the wheelwright travelingfellowship was started, it's one of the oldestfellowships the gsd has, and one of themost, well, i guess it is the most prestigious,was started in 1935. in 2013, it was transformedfrom a fellowship that was only for students ofarchitecture at the gsd, for alumni of the department,was transformed from that, which it had been since 1935into an open international competition available to earlycareer architects worldwide.
and the aim shifted a littlebit as the school had shifted to focus, it was atraveling fellowship, explicitly atraveling fellowship, and travel is mandatory bythe terms of the fellowship. but it's shifted alittle bit to include what we're calling newforms of design as research. not design differentfrom research or design plus research,but design as research is what we were looking for.
and especially because it is atraveling fellowship informed by cross cultural engagement. it's really interestingto look at the terms. it's a very peculiarlywritten fellowship. there can be no deliverables. we cannot ask anything of thewinner, not even a phone call. i'll come back to that. and clearly, what the peoplewho wrote it had in mind was the european beaux-arttradition of the grand tour.
it was for americans at a timewhen it seemed, i suppose, that very few americanstudents could travel. and i think thetravel was to europe. i think it was quite clearthat it was conceptualized as a european trip whenvery few americans could travel either financiallyor just sort of culturally. most students at gsdwere not equipped. and it was somehowimagined-- or this is how now i imagine it--that the winner would
go to paestum, of course,and do watercolors of the greek temples, orthey would travel to rome and sketch all the ancientroman to legitimate in this tradition ofthe ecole des beaux-arts to legitimate the intellectualas a cultured and worldly intellectual as opposed tojust a kind of trade person or crafts person. i should say craftsman,because they're were all men then as well.
that's the other thing thatis clear in the writing of the award. today, it wasreally interesting. in the middle ofthe day, some of you joined us in themiddle of today, we heard from the threefinalists of the third year of the new fellowship. and it was interestingthat as i was listening to their presentations aboutwhere they wanted to go
and why, i was analogizingthem with this idea of the grand tour. only now, the places they wantedto go, like erik l'heureux, to the equatorial citiesof various continents to film architecturesof atmosphere, he called them, having to dowith wind and water and the way buildings interactwith wind and water. no more watercolors,no more sketches. now it's videotape andarchitectures of atmosphere.
or malkit shoshan fromamsterdam going, so imagine greece androme or the sahel area of africa, whichis where she wanted to go to map areas ofconflict, spaces of conflict, spaces where powerand imposition and reterritorializationare kind of invading africanvillages as her grand tour. or quynh vantu who lives inlondon going to korea, japan, other cities in asia to studytraditional architectures who
embrace and construct ritualsand kinesthetic issues of movement and threshold andritual in what, i would call, i think an ethicsof kinesthesia, an ethics ofkinesthesia, which she has learned in her own design. but now will study thetraditional histories of other architecturesand incorporate those. and there's somethingvery beautiful about that that as different asthey were that this experience
of place, being in aplace, being in a culture, and studying therepresentations, the architecturalrepresentations of that culture, how, infact, the travelers in 1935, and the travelers now arenot so different maybe after all in that sense. i think that's certainly thecase of our inaugural winner whom we have heretonight, gia wolff. i said there canbe no deliverables,
but gia has been oneof the most generous and in touch people,awardees, i can imagine. she's advised otherapplicants, and other winners-- or the other winner, ishould say-- at this point. there's been a lotof correspondence with gia and the jury, anda lot of advice from gia. it's wide open, but it is truethat gia is, nevertheless, an alum of the school. she graduated in 2008.
we didn't think about that. i think we genuinelydidn't consider that when we awarded her, but i was veryglad just after we awarded her that she was alum. but really, it wasselfish, because she's one of the few, other alum,i knew some of the winners, but i knew gia pretty well. she had been here as a studentsince i have been here. and i remember thedepth of her generosity.
gia, she was really interestedin the events of architecture or interested inarchitecture as an event, as a construction of an event. and she always hadthis warm glow in her. and it's been amazingto see that glow focused and sharpened and facetedinto a much more articulated and multifaceted project thati think will continue long after the money has been spent. when she graduated from gsd, sheworked for the acconci studio.
she worked for adjayeassociates, lot-ek, very different kinds of practices. but, again, all practiceswho, in very different ways, are concerned witharchitecture and performance. she made up projects forherself-- installations, objects, events. she exhibited at whitecolumns in new york storefront for art and architecture. at pace university, there'sthe peter fingesten gallery.
and really projects,many of which she invented herselfand executed herself. later, she became a collaboratorwith phantom limb company on design of stage sets formarionette performances. and all of this wasin her portfolio along with her proposal tostudy the community based architecture of paradefloats in various cities and the architecture ofcarnival, if you will. gia is presently anadjunct assistant professor
at pratt instituteand teaches also at the irwin chanin school ofarchitecture at cooper union, and i just want to welcomeher, and really thank her. we've all been able toparticipate and enjoy gia's travels. maybe not directly,but certainly because of the correspondenceand the generosity, so i want to thank her andwelcome her at the same time. thanks.
thank you, michael. that was just an incrediblynice introduction. i am so honored to be heretoday among the finalists, the incredibly talentedfinalists for this year's prize, and thespecial people who are here making specialappearances wherever you are in the audience. so i won the prize in2013, and it really has been an incredible,an incredible two years.
although the prizestipulates two years to complete the research,the trouble in my case is that it's becominga life's work. while i have an immense amountof images to share today, i already know that ihave at least another year or two years ahead ofme before i'll fully complete this mission. so what i have today is stilla bit of a work in progress. i have to ask you to bear withme for a few quick minutes.
i have a number of peopleto thank, many of whom out of their owntime and interest have helped make thisproject what it is today. and i really, i can't be herewithout thanking them first. the gsd, the wheelwright prizecommittee, cathy, ben, mohsen, michael, jorge, and thevarious other harvard staff who've been incrediblesupport over the last two years. both personally andinstitutionally, you all really
continue to make thisgift keep giving. my incredible team in rio,cesio, vera, lourdes, alex, daryan, aron, gabriela,luciana, juan, marcos, rubem. my new york support,john hartmann, freecell, andrea monfried, michael webb,[? graham ?] [? shane, ?] julia locktev, and, of course, allof my family who are tuning in live in losangeles right now, even my mom who canceledher clients to watch. and the many, manyothers who have
provided feedback andconnections and resources along the way. and certainly, certainlynot least, my most recent collaborator,claire tancons, who is simply one of themost brilliant women i know and an invaluablecarnival resource. after i share therio research, i'm going to show two projectsi worked on with claire. i hope to have shownthree, but actually
along with themusician, arto lindsay, who was just playingwhile everybody was taking their seats, thethree of us will be working on a projectcoming up this year. that's it for this. when i set out tostart the research, i literally had a two pageproposal and nothing else. while the subject was a cleartrajectory of my career path, it was also completelynew territory.
i knew very littleabout carnival. i'd never been to brazil. i didn't speak portuguese. i had limited first-handexperience in carnivals. i was literallystarting from scratch. and as with most projects, itstarted incredibly ambitious. i was supposed to have traveledto five different countries by now, which istill plan to do. but for now, i'm still unpackingthe famous rio carnival.
the rio researchitself, the research has revealed itself in somany different mediums. but one that i'mstill in awe over is how i was ableto form a solid team as a stranger walking into acompletely foreign country. i think this is partlydue to a good idea transcending the means. a good idea naturallylends itself to externalparticipation, but also,
how an idea is ableto transform itself given the right opportunity. in this case, throughthe wheelwright prize. i wasn't exactlysure where to begin, but i started by writingto literally everyone who gave me a contact. and over the courseof a few months, i wrote to over 100strangers, and by the time i arrived in rio,on my first trip,
i was able to meet about 20. out of those, five have becomepivotal colleagues, friends, and my rio family. and since then,this group has grown into a solid team whoeach have a crucial role in the formation of the work. so what i'm showing hereis a list of everyone who has directlycontributed to the project, with the bolded names beingthose who have profoundly
been instrumental. so it's really a lot ofpeople at this point. i'm presuming likemyself two years ago, most people here don't knowtoo much about rio's carnival other than it bearing a lotof feathers and precisely molded asses. there is no shortageof those, but really what makes rio sounique is not just the visually magnificentfloats, but how
they possess anintangible power that draws from their deeprooted relationships to the urban fabric intothe diverse communities that build them. this upcoming year, iwill be more focused on the communityaspects of carnival so for now, i'll be alittle brief about that, and focus rather on some ofthe other more urban findings. this is the incredible city ofrio, and hatched in the corner
here is where most of thecarnival action takes place. but the community relationshipswith each samba school really stretch out intothe entirety of the city. and just to clarify,a samba school is comprised of everycomponent in carnival, not just the sambadance or music. it is the music, it's thefloats, it's the dancers, it's really everything. and in rio, each samba schoolcompetes with one another.
in fact, it's ausually economic force in the country, and somethingthat everyone connects with. even if they're notthat into carnival, if you ask them who theirschool is you bet they have one. maybe it was their father'sschool or their grandparent's, but they have one, the same waythat they have a soccer team even if they're notthat into sports. so one of the schools thatresponded to my initial letter was mangueira, whichis one of the oldest
traditional and ubiquitouslyloved samba schools. as with most sambaschools, they're connected to aparticular community, and usually it's afavela, if i'm correct. but this doesn't necessarilymean that the favela residents are the only people who parade. anyone can join a school. there about 6,000 people whoparticipate with each school, and i think about2,000 or so are often
foreigners who justbuy costumes, quickly learn the routine,and song and parade. so here we see, this isthe mangueira favela. this is their [? gres, ?] whichis their community center, and this is vila olimpica, whichis a kind of larger community center. this is the [? gres, ?]and each school has one, and they're locatedin their community. and it's where all thedance and music rehearsals
happen throughout the year. but especiallyunique for mangueira is the vila olimpica,which is a large complex of little buildings that rangefrom a medical center, library, sports facilities, to schools,preschools, high school, and a trade school. we were given a tourof the facility, which has been listed by the unescoas a world heritage site. and it's prettyunique to mangueira.
i haven't foundany other schools that have a facility like this. you can see thebasketball court, and then the two kind of trade schoolfacilities, the plumbing. all, of course, adorned withtheir pink and green colors, which they have alot of pride in. so this map is showingthe three areas where the main parading takes place. cidade do samba issamba city, and it's
the facility where the specialschools, the first level schools, where thefloats are built. that's samba city. and then thewarehouses, which is where the floats arebuilt before samba city, but now where the second tierand the third tier floats are built. and then this isthe sambadrome where the actual parading happens.
just to give youa little rundown, there are three tiersof samba schools. the first group, which is thespecial group, has 12 schools. they have the mostmoney, and they have each eight floats per school. the second level schools are,i think, there's about eight of them. they have very little money,and only about two floats each. and the third tier schools, ithink, there's a ton of them.
i'm not even sure how many,and they have very, very little money, and i thinkthere's usually about one float perschool, and they don't parade in the sambadrome. they parade around the city. and this is samba city. it's open to the public. you can't get intothe actual warehouses unless you're a guest,but you can see the two
different shadings,you can see the size of each warehouse per school. the centralized areais public, and they have events and promotionalactivities there. this is what it lookslike inside samba city. because carnival isso highly competitive, like a nationalsports team there, even though you can walkaround within the center area, the schools still maintain totalsecrecy of their upcoming plans
despite their close proximity. another school that openedtheir doors to me was portela. they gave me a tour of theirwarehouse in november of 2013. so i was able to get aglimpse of the entire facility and their construction process. i met their carnavelesco,who's there on the left. the carnavelesco islike the lead designer for the school's parade. and he happily shared withme his costume drawings,
but when i askedabout float drawings, no one seemed tospeak english anymore. but what i did learn,which was major, is the fact that there has tobe an architect or engineer stamp on the float drawings. this was really a huge--sorry-- huge revelation. when i mentioned to oneof my colleagues in rio that there were thesearchitecture drawings around, she didn't believe me,because there have never
been architecture drawingsof floats published. so who knows? but i did get to see aarchitecture drawing set from mangueira'swarehouse last year, so i did confirmthat it's not a myth, but i still needto figure out how to let somebody trust meenough that they will share it with me besides just kindof seeing it from afar. and inside portela, the basicprocess of flat construction
begins with a truck chassis witha steel structure welded to it, which is then coveredin wood and then foam. and there is actually a reallyhuge foam craft industry there too. this is a portrait of a welder. and so this upcomingyear, i'm going to be doing aseries of interviews with fabricators and someportrait shots bringing to light more ofthe people involved.
but they are really incrediblyproud of their work, and this man wasreally thrilled to have this portrait taken by my supertalented photographer in rio. and this is, onthe upper left, is the head craftsman, thehead wicker craftsman within the costume department. and i asked him wherehe learned his craft, and he said his father, wholearned it from his father, and now he was teachingit to the man below.
and to the right isthe costume prototype. and by will or bruteforce, i couldn't leave without trying on apart of the costume myself. i was actually reallysurprised at how heavy it was. those wings are madeout of a steel armature. these people paradefor an hour and a half in them at the peak summer. all right. so adjacent to samba cityare the old warehouses
that were once used forthe special schools that are now being used for thesecond and third tier schools. samba city is actuallyrelatively new. i think it's only aboutsix or eight years old. the old warehouses are wildand packed with pieces salvaged from first tier floats. they're almost like afloat graveyard really. the scene felt insanelydisproportionately different to the facilities ofthe first level schools
even though they were reallyjust the second tier schools. i walked into thisparticular warehouse, and within like asecond both of my legs were covered withmosquitoes and fleas. but because the stakes are sohigh with the special schools, it was easier tolearn about carnival at first by looking atthe lower level schools. facilities aside, theyshare so many similarities and their doorsare totally open.
it was a way to begin toaccess the information. and here, we cansee how many people are involved tomaneuver one float, and the ubiquitousdesire to build to just under theirown size limitations. and this is the sambadrome. it's the linear stadium wherethe first and second level schools parade. it was built by oscarniemeyer in 1984.
it's an incredibleconcrete structure. but prior to it, the floatsparaded on the streets, which would have also beenincredible to see in rio, and partly why i'mtraveling to some of the other citiesin the upcoming year. but parading inthe streets still does happen for the thirdlevel schools and for blocos. and the blocos areinformal street parties throughout the city.
they're not floats, they'remore just for people, but are still an incrediblesubject for another wheelwright prize. nevertheless, with thecreation of the sambadrome came a lot of innovation of thefloats in terms of their size and technology and mobility,which we will see some of. at the end of theavenue, there's an iconic arch, which ibelieve was originally meant for parading throughand back down the avenue.
this is not allowed anymorebecause since niemeyer's death, more box seats were built atthe base of the grandstand so now the floats justparade down the avenue and out onto the street. what you can see, sothey used actually come around and back throughand back down the avenue. and you can see these lights,how far back it actually goes. it's really huge. this is looking back down.
and the proximityof the urban fabric right behind the sambadromeis really incredible. in fact, some ofthe favelas, i have heard that they selltickets to watch the parade fromtheir houses, which is really cool, andsomething i would love to do. i spent an enormous amountof time in cidade do samba, and luckily, it has thecheapest parking in the city. it's only about six [? reais ?]for the day, which is like $3.
and the closer igot to carnival, the harder it was for meto get through to anyone. no one answered or returnedany of my emails or calls. tarps were used to cover thefloats that were bursting out of their hangers. photography even outsidewas not permitted, but clearly i snuck a few in. i did manage to get a tourof mangueira's hanger right before the parade,but, again, was not
allowed to photograph anything. rubem, the director of theescola de samba mangueira told us during our tourthat what we were seeing isn't anything likewhat the floats would look like during the parade. there you can seea little glimpse of them testing their lights. i was aware of how competitivecarnival is to cariocas and how the secretsof each school
are only ever seenoften for the first time during the carnival parade. but what was so secretive abouttheir final glitzing being adorned on each floator the dangling wires bursting through the 30 foottall flower stems with their 10 foot long petals resting ina pile on the floor awaiting one last coat of rubbercement and finishing frills? or a 10 foot wide by 20foot tall decapitated person whose belly was splayed openrevealing a bent steel grid
armature and an old blackenedengine for its guts? who was the giantbeing depicted? was this the big secret? i was looking for whattricks manguiera was hiding. new technologies, innovativeconstruction details, transformative flowmechanisms, hybrid assemblies, but nothing seemedvisibly obvious. rubem was right. two days later had i not heardthe loudspeaker announcement
followed by thedeafening fireworks that initiated manguiera'sstart down the sambadrome, i would never have knownthat what i saw moving slowly and rhythmically down thestreet were the same floats i had seen justa few days prior. it wasn't the fact that theflowers now had their heads on, which were flashing andspinning to the school song, nor was it the fact that thefloat's belly had been sewn up, and all of its 10foot long limbs
were waving at each bleacherfilled with thousands of people singing and dancingto the sambra rhythm. but to my surprise,it was the people who literally made the finaladdition to each float, embellishing thealready thick color, texture, and animated exteriorwith one last dynamic layer. the people gavethe float the scale that were both out of scaleyet within the unexpected scale of architecture.
there's a great cohesivenessbetween the people and the floats makingit difficult to separate its dynamic personality. [samba music playing] on one hand, the thematicstory represented on each float if viewed with aliteral perspective would seem like a surrealhyper-representation of simple everydayobjects like trees, soccer balls, or musical instruments,which are frequently
represented on the floats. such ubiquitous imageryis not unlike what you might expect tosee in many parades around the world, such asthe macy's day parade in new york that flaunts giant balloonsof spider-man, for example. however, there's somethingabout the floats in rio that transcend sucha common translation. it's not just the factthat these floats rank among the largest in theworld, but is rather something
much more powerful and deeprooted in their relationship to the urban andconstructed fabric as well as the communities within. we see a part of this duringthe hour and a half each school parades, but theconstruction of the floats happens throughoutthe entire year, and embeds itselfmuch more profoundly in the culture of the city. but the efforts of suchstrong community ties
do not go without incredibleawe and wonderment in how it all comestogether, keeping in mind that the floatsare built in pieces, and often only cometogether for the first time once they arriveat the sambadrome. and this float was by farone of the tallest i saw. you can't really tell here, butas it moved down the avenue, it transformed into anenormously huge figure. clearly, this floatcould not have
been tested prior to this dayas there would have been no way to have kept it a secret. so i could only capture ittransforming down not up, but it's still really cool. and i love how you beginto see the fragments of the architecturein the background. at the start ofthe parade, this is one of the first floats i saw. i took one look at itand thought, oh my god,
how on earth is this thingrelated to architecture? but it is so cool. [fireworks] like the spinning pianos, mostof the floats, while completely spectacular areincredibly literal, and seeing through thevisual representations are a challenge to seeing thearchitectural relationships. paulo barros is one of theonly carnavalescos working now that has some senseof abstraction
that he achievesthrough repetition. although still quite literal,these are stunning visuals. it's actually reallyhard to capture anything without dancingat the same time. and here's just one. so i drew this map after my2014 carnival, but it's wrong. i kept it anyway,because the larger truth is i'm not sure it'sever going to be right. it's really hard to tell yearby year what stays the same
and what changes. and as soon as ithink i have something down i'm reminded that thismay not be the same next year, so i didn't try to correct it. on one hand, ithink this is partly due to the incredible speedat which the physical city is changing, because of theworld cup and olympics. on the other hand, it's simplya carioca state of mind. and carioca, by the way, is theword for a brazilian from rio.
but the importantaspect of this map is the start and endpoints of the sambadrome. these two areas are wherewe see the floats being assembled and disassembled. because there are sixschools parading per night, the parade has tocontinuously move even as the floats are beingassembled and disassembled. keeping the timing andpace is so important that the floats are beingjudged even at these points.
lifts are used at both endsto get people on and off and attach and detach smallercomponents of the float. the floats are onlyfully assembled literally right before theyturn onto the avenue to parade. lifts attach peopleto the float so they have no way of gettingdown on their own so that they reallybecome part of the float. the scene is wild and seeminglydangerous, but apparently in control, in anot so obvious way.
but this scene wasmind opening as it exposed a very hidden side tothe spectacle of the event. [voices and beeping] and it made aspects oftime and construction incredibly transparent,but moreover, it showed me that there is, infact, something much greater than the parade itself. and there was more towhat i was looking for. what became clearis that despite what
i'm sure the league ofsamba schools would argue, the parade did not, in fact,start and stop at these two end points, but rathermarked a transition into a different kind ofparade, something much more architectural and urban. the parade became a loop thatbegan at the warehouse, moved through the city, paradedin the sambadrome, and made its way backto the warehouses through other parts of thecity, redefining itself
in the experienceof the spectator. here again the map is wrong. for the same reasons, ididn't bother to redraw it. there's no way that itcould ever be current. but i brought my map here,which has all the markings that i made actually there. so if anyone's interested tolook at it after the lecture, you're welcome to. but very importantin the drawing--
this drawing, notthat drawing-- is that it taught mesomething incredible, which was in thinking about the lengthof the sambadrome, the length of one schoolparading, and realized how long a line of floatsneeded to be for one night, because-- wait,let me start over, because this iskind of confusing. i was thinking about the lengthof the sambadrome, the length how long a line of floatsneeded to be for one night,
but because there are two nightsof special school parading, and each schoolhaving eight floats, i discovered that there'sone day where there's 96 floats moving through the city. and this became themission for 2015. my now strong andgrowing team and i set out to figure outthe float parcourse. apparently, there's anofficial map of the parcourse, but no one had acopy of it, not even
these officials standing on thestreet, moving traffic through. we even made a contactseemingly high up, the chief person who works underthe main director of the league of samba schools, andwhose job is literally to direct the floatsout of samba city. no surprise, hedidn't have a map. i wasn't sure he couldeven read a map when i put my precious mapand pen in front of him, so instead he got in our car,and drove the parcourse with us
to show us the route. but, of course, we onlymade it about 50% of the way before we realized we werebeing led back to samba city. and the truth is i wasn'tsure he knew beyond that. but this is the story oftrying to obtain information at every level. it just comes inthese fragments. i also learned by now,although i set out with questions that seemedlike the next logical step,
it doesn't alwayswork like this. i have to constantlyask new questions, and take advantage ofwhatever's in front of me, that the researchis more organic and is being gathered incumulative small doses. this trip i wasmuch more organized. i had a strong team, and iwas ready to try and start producing specific, but,of course, unknown images for the research.
i was accompaniedby hired driver, a few amazing academics. vera, from the universityfederal in rio de janeiro. silvio, another professor fromsao paulo architecture school. my photographer, anassistant, and bodyguard hired from a companycalled the bodyguard. we were planning on walkingthe parcourse, which meant a lot of dodgy areasand expensive equipment. but the driverwas happily parked
in our cheap parkingspot in samba city to collect us as we needed. unfortunately,the weather turned into a complete downpour. all the floats that weregetting ready to leave were being covered in tarps. and they sat and waitedand waited for the rain to let up before making theirjourney to the avenida vargas where they line up toenter the sambadrome.
the rain was a slightsetback, but didn't stop us from trying to find thefloats wherever they might be. first step out of sambacity, and already we were confrontedby a scene filled with the most incrediblejuxtapositions, the highly articulated but totallylow tech float, an old port warehouse, aglowing cruise ship, and a herd of camels orzebras moving down the road. seeing the floatswithin the architecture,
as part of the architecture,made me think of the portuguese translation for a floatwhich is [portuguese]. it means the allegorical car. it took a while beforei was able to work that translation out. every time i saidfloat, no one understood what i was talking about. although they sortof i knew i was referring to some sort ofcarnival related element.
when i learned theportuguese word for float, it reaffirmed itsparallel relationship to ephemeral architecture. an allegory, whichis a story that can be interpreted toreveal hidden meaning, is also a phenomenon muchgreater than the floats themselves. could carnival itself be aallegory for architecture? the float transforms the city.
its scale makes exteriorstreets into interior rooms of a street theater. where incredible momentslike these are seen, sidewalks turn intodressing rooms. i do a lot of work with anincredible marionette theater group called thephantom limb company, and in puppetry theater,there's a powerful ability for the viewer to feel a senseof participation and investment in the performance that isdifferent than typical theater.
the scale of the puppetsare forgiving in that you immediately forego a needto connect the performance to any scale or measurementthat would tie it back to what we understand to be reality. immediately, you are immersedin the story, the drama, and the new realityof the imaginary. similarly, the suspension ofbelief is obtained in carnival. but what is sostriking about this is that it is occurring at anarchitectural and urban scale.
not only are thefloats' physical size equivalent to thearchitectural surrounds, but presented against theexisting urban fabric, the floats move through thecity like mobile buildings. they're so big that they getstuck in between buildings like this one did. parts have to getdismantled on the spot, and keep in mindthat there could be 95 floats behind this one.
it is not uncommon to seefragments of float parts on the sidewalk or inthe middle of the street, layering old with new, real withfake, permanent with temporary. and to a brazilian,this may seem normal, the hyper-reality as anew kind of standard reality. but to an outsider, thisscale shifts are surreal. there's a differentkind of theatrical magic that you feel when in ablink, the imaginary world you just occupiedcomes apart with
one swift and unscripted move. here, the odds of seeingthe car costumes heading into a real gas station istotally real and yet totally not. the performance that occurs inthe assembly and disassembly of the floats isradically different than the actual parade. it reveals the truth about thelength of the parade, which extends beyond thesambadrome and out
towards the variouscommunities within the city. the length of theparade stretches back to the community centers,to the float warehouses, through the cityto the sambadrome, and back through thecity in an endless loop throughout the year. time, shifting at speed inaccordance to the performance. the allegorical carframes and reframes our point of viewand questions who
is performing-- thecarnavalesco or the pedestrian, the building or the float,the city or the procession? the constantly changingscene, the proximity to the stage, the materiality,the surreal relationships all tell a story. and while they arephysical signs showing how the city transformslike this street sign which is actually rotatedas is this traffic light or the wires beingcut, it is a hidden meaning
found inside the floatsbeyond their construction and to their communities. not inside the sambadrome,but outside on the streets. this is an interior ofa float, by the way. in the craft behindthe construction, and within an interiorityof the allegorical cars. this is also an interior space. i conclude theresearch contemplating if carnival is anallegory for architecture
how can these experiencesbegin to influence completely new ways of thinking about thecity and our built environment. and i've beenreally lucky to have had a few opportunitiesto begin testing some of these ideas inreal projects that i'm going to quickly share now. i've been really luckyto have been able, the uniqueopportunity to explore spatial and performativeideas from carnival in tandem
with the discoveriesthat i've made through this ongoingwheelwright research. only a few months afterreceiving the prize, i got a call from a womannamed claire tancons, who said she was going to be in newyork and hoped we could meet. claire is an independentcurator and an academic and truly themaestra of carnival. she's been researching thesubject for the last 10 plus years.
and since our firstmeeting, we've collaborated on two projects,and as i mentioned before, we're also about to embarkon yet a third project. this exhibition, titled "enmas: carnival and performance art of the caribbean,"which is currently on view at the contemporaryart center in new orleans commissioned nineperformances by artists whose work is embedded withina critical carnival dialogue. mas is short for masquerade,and synonymous with carnival
in the englishspeaking caribbean. a [? mas ?] [? man ?] isa carnival person similar to a carnavalesco in brazil. claire brought meinto this project as the exhibitiondesigner, which for me was anexciting opportunity to play out myrecent discoveries about the processionalas architecture or the processionalwithin architecture.
the design for thisshow delineated a very dark, almost blackperipheral processional path through the space, a path thatis linear and directional, and yet non-prescriptive. opposite the path werecentralized and brightly lit colorful three-sideddiorama-like rooms for each of the artists. by separating theprocessional from the artwork, i hoped to achieve a cleardistinction between the two
elements in orderfor the visitor to create their ownexperience through the space. as claire puts it, "enmas" considers a history of performance that doesnot take place on the stage or in the gallery, butrather in the streets, addressing not thefew, but the many. parallel to this,the perimeter path creates a kind ofstreet-like path that is both part of theshow and simultaneously
a place for personal orindependent direction. so you can begin to seethe path that wraps around and all the artistwork around the center. the challenge of tryingto create a carnival space was doubled by the challengeof creating an exhibition design for performance. how do you show a performancethat doesn't feel dead? one way to rectify this was toremove the factual information out of the artist'sareas in order
to try and create full scaledioramas that the visitor can walk into and experiencerather than being distracted by dates and geographies,material, colors, printers. all the factual informationwas placed on the perimeter wall adjacent to each artistand spotlights on the outer wall highlighted the text andhelped to draw the visitor through the darkness. so you can see that'sthe information, not for this person, butthe person next door.
and here, again, youcan see the spotlight in the distancefor another person, leading you throughthe darkness. not only is a dialoguecreated by the tension between the processionalpath and the display, but also by the relationshipsbetween each artists. early on, we looked atways to connect the works either by their geographiclocations-- the performances took place throughoutthe world--
or by the time of yearthe performances occurred. and the performances, inparticular, these performances took place at differenttimes of year, which were not always in syncwith the pre-lent carnival season. instead, the cyclicalpath reaffirm the fact that carnival is not boundto one location or one time, and by seeing newadjacencies between works emphasized a less consideredcyclical nature of carnival.
the visitor isinvited to retrace the steps of theperformances, and become an active participantin their reconstruction, redefining their ownpreconceptions of carnival, both as an art form and withina critical cultural dialogue. the next project beganagain, with claire who had been invited bycatherine [inaudible] from the tate modern to guestcurate a show in the turbine hall within theperformance department.
having had just come backfrom my first trip to rio, it was all fresh inmy mind when claire asked me to thinkabout the turbine hall as though it was the sambadrome. she asked, how couldi transform herzog and de meuron's architecturalspace for the turbine hall into a carnival spacereminiscent of oscar niemeyer's sambadrome in rio de janeiro. i should quickly mentionthat, as it turned out,
the turbine hall is actuallyconsidered an exterior space with a covered roof by thehealth and safety standards which we had toendlessly comply with, so that parallel relationshipwas actually quite on point. a seemingly simple idea,which took a lot of risks within the tate'sperformance department, unwavering support from claireas a guest curator, and me, of course, to convinceeveryone that it was not that difficult to do.
my installation,"canopy," became a monumental andunprecedented installation within theperformance department for the show titled, "up hilldown hall: an indoor carnival." in trinidad, there'sa beautiful tradition of revelers holdingcanopies over their heads as they parade. and my proposal became a kind ofdeconstructed canopy of ropes, suspended lengthwise, 550 feetlong, and seemingly hairline
thin pieces of rope,physically connected to the building's roof trusseson the east and west ends of the hall, andvisually connected the vast space with10 catenary curves. 5,550 feet of custom made thick,vibrant, pink-red red ropes hung from one end ofthe hall to the other. spliced together toform loops to connect to the overheadbuilding trusses. as a means to enhancethe processional nature
of the turbine hall, theropes enticed audience members through the uniquestreet size space and guided them alongside theperformers and participants. at the lowestpoint in the curve, the ropes split paths and woveabove and below the bridge to bring viewers insidethe space of "canopy." this is up close, butjust out of arm's reach, the ropes revealtheir massive size, and rough twisted texture.
above the central bridgewithin the space of "canopy." looking through the ropesbrought your eyes up through to the architectureof the turbine hall. back down below as the ropeswove through the colonnade. the event coincided with theweekend of the notting hill carnival. and as claireexplained, the show engaged with carnival asritual of resistance, festival of otherness in performanceart, and with the notting hill
carnival specificallyas a contested site from which to reflect on notionsof public space performance and participationall situated within the architecturalinstallation of "canopy." smaller handheld ropeswere choreographed with one of the artists,the performance artist, marlon griffith's piece, "noblack in the union jack." these ropes were used ascrowd control devices, and moved in harmony anddiscord with the revelers.
and the next day was thenotting hill carnival, and actually you see thehandheld ropes being used. held with tension,each rope bearer simulated a pointalong the line, and defined the spacefor the performance. shifts at eachpoint along the line redefine the performancearea, and help move the audience and performersfrom one end of the hall to the other.
looking down. and that is it. [applause] we'll take some timefor some questions. is that all right? yeah. do the first tier schoolshave any better shot at winning the championship thanthe second tier, historically? they don't competeagainst each other.
they only competewithin their own league. and actually, whoever scoresthe lowest, moves down, and whoever scores thehighest on that lower tier moves up, so there isopportunity to rotate. but it's very difficult. hi. thank you for your presentation. i was very, veryinterested when you suggested that carnival is likean allegory of architecture.
especially i waslistening to you about probablyyou are suggesting or not that someof the lessons has to be to experience ratherthan something else. dialogue, relationship,cyclical nature, and also really finding aspecific meaning. so i'm wondering if because itis also reflected in year round job that you are presenting. it's probably thisthe things that you
are going to try topush forward in part of your researchin the next time or what is next, in other words? i think the goal forthis upcoming year-- and it's probably goingto take another year, to be honest-- isgetting a little bit more into the community aspectsof carnival, the people. i don't feel like i havea firm grasp on that. but the way that theinformation has been unfolding
or has unfolded hasbeen really organic, like really horizontal, a lotof little bits, but not in mass. so i think if i can justcontinue to gather information horizontally eventually it'sgoing to build upward too. so it's a littlebit of everything, but with a particular focuson the community aspects. thanks, gia. that was a great presentation. i have a question thati think a lot of people
think about when theylook at carnival, which is that aesthetically, andcraft wise, and fabrication wise, it's all veryold world, traditional, and you'd said at the beginning,lots of beads and feathers, and you dig in deep, andthere's styrofoam, and metal. and of course, fromyour perspective, and from designer'sperspective, you're interested in where is theprogressiveness in architecture and material technology.
do you see any ofthat happening? and if not, then why is it thatthey're not exploring not just progressive ways of making,but also progressive imagery? or i mean, i know that it'sbased in a community aesthetic, and, of course, ithas a long tradition, and there's a fondness forthis kind of aesthetic, but the idea of art directionbeing conceptual as opposed to literal, whichyou'd also touched on. i'm going to try to answer this.
so there's one ortwo schools that are getting external sponsorship. you can't actuallyhave sponsorship on the floats themselves,but there's other ways to promote sponsorship. like the schoolsget these vip rooms that they cover withsponsorship or dinners. i don't know what it is exactly. but there are someschools that are
moving to gettingrussian choreographers and other internationalpeople involved. and so they'retaking the, i think they're the schools that aremuch more innovative in terms of technology. i don't have thatmany photos of it, and i haven't had access to thewarehouses of the schools that are doing that, but i knowthat a few are doing it. and there is a riff, i think, inwhether that's the right thing
to do or not, whether youstay with this tradition or you find ways toadvance it and change it with a changing world. and then i think there'sanother part to it where people like the tradition. i don't know. i mean, even some of the ideasthat i've been bringing up to people like even justtracking the floats in the city is not something anybodythinks twice about there.
for them, it's the parade. it's like when everythingcomes together, and that perfectimage of the carnival, that's what people like. and when you talk about thefloats moving through the city, it's like it's off the map. they don't even know whati'm asking for when i'm like, do they go down this road? they're like, they'reparading in the sambadrome.
no, no, but i want toknow how do they get back to the samba city? it's such a foreignquestion, i think. they're sort of focusedon what carnival is in a really traditional way. but i think it's changing. some of it. in new orleans--and you apparently have been doing somework in new orleans--
the routes of the paradesare very important. there is a lot of awareness ofthe routes and the different, and if there's been achange in the route. i just wonder maybe if you couldtalk a little bit about how new orleans practicesmardi gras in particular are similar and different fromwhat you've been working on in brazil. but also thinking about aplace where the activity is so vibrant and still really partof the culture, how successful,
if you want to do an exhibitionor a museum thing, where people can go outside and actuallyparticipate in the real living expression of someof this, how do you work with that so that themuseum so it's more successful? have you found waysthat that's successful? i can imagine peoplegoing like, why would i want to go see it in a museumwhen there's a parade happening this afternoon? i'm exaggerating a little, butthis tension between the museum
exhibition and the real life. you mean the tate show? any or thecontemporary art museum in a place like neworleans or anywhere where you're trying to do anexhibition about something that actually has a livingexpression in the culture, how successful ordo you have any, try to come to terms with howit can be successful or not? i don't know if that's.
i'm not totally sure iunderstand the second question, but in terms of themardi gras question, i think there's actually alot of parallels to how new orleans does carnival to rio. i'm pretty sure they compete. they have warehouses. they build all year long. they don't have the sambadrome. they do parade throughthe streets, which
is super exciting, and there'sa lot of other countries that i am hoping toget to at some point to see that as a comparison,like the actual parading through the city. beyond that, i don't knowthat much about new orleans. i have never been to mardi gras. and the focus of thewheelwright research has beeninternationally focused. and also, trying to keep myparticular focus on carnivals
where the floatsare architecturally scaled, because there's somany carnivals everywhere with really interestingand exciting floats. there's one in amsterdamthat happens, i think, the first weekend in septemberthat's kind of like the rose parade, but not exactly. it's a little bit more extreme,and that's also really cool. and i want to go to that, butit doesn't have the same sort of scale or parallelism.
so i've been trying tokeep my focus a little bit to really, really huge floats. i'm not really sure aboutthe second question. in a place where there is aliving tradition of parading and live music--mardi gras, carnival-- and if you're going to tryto do an exhibit about that. and it was a little bit ofthe show in new orleans that's there right now, as iwas looking at that, i was thinking how successfulis that likely to be in a place
where it's all around you andpotentially in public realm? i mean, you can juststumble on parades. are lots of peopleinterested in going to see a show aboutcarnival parading in a place where you can actuallyparticipate in it? i mean, i'm not sure i wouldimagine that they would be especially interestedin it, because they're so familiar with carnivalin their own city, and here they are seeingexamples of artists doing work,
not even necessarily traditionalkind of carnival related work, but whose work themselvesis taken from carnival, and done all over the world. i have a short question. i'm curious, becausei don't know so much about the carnival in brazil. i'm curious whereit was originated. what is the historyof the carnival? it somehow, the wayyou described it,
it reminded me offootball clubs that you have certain part of thecity that associate themself with a certain club. and i'm curious howit affects the dynamic within the communityin the city, and how the carnival,and the dynamic between the carnival and thecity, how to form one another. over the yearssince its inception, it has really kindof transformed
to become like a sport in a way. and while it still hasa lot of traditions and borrows from a lot of,that each school has a theme, and the themes are often somesort of historical person or it could also bea contemporary singer or something like that. you do you often see alot of visual imagery that talks a lot aboutcultural or historical aspects of carnival.
but i think in its inception--and i'm not a huge specialist on the full historyof carnival-- it is deep rooted in africanslavery in brazil and religion, and having to hidethrough carnival, hiding a lot oftribal traditions. i just have one question. all architecturerequires usually lots of capital behind it. and i'm curious in theproduction of these floats
how are the differentschools generating capital, and why has it not been co-optedby large scale sponsorship or how has there been devicesof resistance to keep it really in the community, and nottaken over by petrobras or whoever in brazil? well, petrobras actually givesall the schools a ton of money. the city gives theschools a lot of money. and the winners gettons, i don't know, like a million reais, 10 millionreais, like a ton of money.
and they generate money throughcostumes, selling costumes, and through a lotof participation. so the 2,000 or 3,000or however many people that are not part ofthe community, costumes are expensive. so that's one wayof generating money. and i think they have a lotof parties like every week or every year, something. they have parties.
there's all sorts of differentways to generate money. but it hasn't beenco-opted by sponsors like you'd see inthe macy's day parade where each float issponsored by so and so. no, they don'treally allow that. they don't allow thesponsorship to be shown. the images that yousaw of the dancers with the checkeredflags, the theme for that was a race car driver.
and so there was innuendosof-- not innuendos-- but hints at sponsorship fromdifferent gasoline companies, and so it was alittle controversial. but like i said before,you can get sponsorships, outside sponsorships,but it's just not shown in the actual parading. it's shown in other ways. [inaudible] troubleearlier this year. there are schools acceptingbig chunks of money,
and it actually impacts theirentire theme and art direction. and schools are now discoveringthis marketing model where they can sellthemselves as specialists. in fact, the school that wonthis year got a ton of money from a horribleafrican dictator. and the theme waskind of about him. [? so it was ?][? changing the ?] [? message. ?] right.
but it didn't directlysay, but it was definitely. it was amazing to me howmysterious the story became at some point, but it was likeas you were looking for reasons or trying to map theprocession through the city, and it seemed likeno one had the code, no one knew what it meant. and when you laid out thisidea of an allegorical cart, i think you couldreally theorize this, because the theoryof allegory is deep.
and part of it, at least, hasto do with allegories work with material, the code forwhich, the meaning of which has been lost. part of allegory isa kind of making do. i think [? cathy's ?]question about why doesn't technology progressin the practice of carnival, and there's somethingabout, in allegory, it's always a making do. it's independent of aninstrumentalized technology.
it's almost a kind of bricolagethat you use leftover pickup trucks and leftover machinerythat have functioned elsewhere in order to run the floats. and that itself is a kindof allegorical operation. but ultimately, i'mthinking of allegories that become covering,like a way of covering for certain traditionsthat are resilient, that came with slavery. ultimately, likefootball, starts off
as an allegory of somekind of battle, say, but ultimately, allegoriesbecome about themselves. they gain an autonomy,because they're so reflexive and reiterative. so ultimately, footballis about football. it's not really about, it'snot an allegory for battle. it's just about football. and i think there's somethingabout the carnival itself, it's just about carnival.
it's lost itsreligious attachments. it's lost its-- it's evenresist economic attachments in a certain way. and it just becomesself-replicating in a way, which iskind of fascinating. and i feel like i'mself-replicating right now. jorge, last question. i'm wondering whether, i'mlooking with great interest, because i think thereare many stories here.
and i just wantto ask you how far or not these is fromwhat you originally wanted to investigate. because, let's faceit, carnival in rio is a thing in itself,which has, as far as i'm concerned,probably by now very little to do withcarnival in brazil. the idea as much asit's very interesting that you build a street thatyou only use once a year
instead of doing itthrough the street, it tells you that we'redealing with something else. and then the millions ofdollars and the sponsorships and the cost, andthen we know there is carnival in brazil inother cities, as you say, you plan to go. my sense now is that thishas become another phenomenon frankly, which has, ofcourse, a great interest. but i wonder how you feelwhen you discover all these
behind the scenes, allthese money, a sambradrome where you go to paradein a street that is not a street anymore, and how thatmay compare with carnival still being performed and generatedin the communities with not this sponsorship, but just withthe will and effort of people in small communities. it just sounds to me that thisis a huge business related to tourism. we know that it is, in fact.
carnival in rio isa thing by itself. for sure, for sure. i think when i discovered thestart points and the endpoints of the parade, the projectreally transformed. it became clear that itreally, the interest was not about the actual paradein the sambadrome, although it was totally excitingto witness and be a part of, it was everything else. that interest has continued tounfold in so many other ways,
trying to chase these imagesand just find the floats, find the streets thatthey're going down, and catch them gettingstuck and dismantled, and having thesethings whiz by you. none of that is anythingto do with the tourists. you just don't find those photosin the newspapers and anywhere, and any sort ofgoogle interneting, you just don'tfind those photos. they're just notinterested in it.
to them, carnival is reallyabout this perfect picture. it's about thesecoffee table books, and so as soon as you startposing any of these questions to them, they have no ideawhat you're talking about. and so it's really like youjust have to go find it. the amount ofthese conversations asking a guy on the streetwho's helping monitor traffic, like do the floats,what time are they going to be over there,where do they go?
and it's like a 30minute conversation to not really get the answerthat you're looking for, because he has no ideawhat you're really asking. because it's justnot on their radar. i don't know if that fullyanswers the question, but, i think, on one hand,it is about the tourists, it is about this perfectpicture that you see down the sambadrome, but theinterest of the project at least has been discoveredthat it's not that.
it's everything aroundthat and everything that leads up to thateven throughout the year. so cathy, ben, new rules. now, wheelwright winner's haveto come and give two lectures. one after the end of theirresearch phase, but then the next one is how itaffects and the repercussions in your own work as you'rebeginning to show here. that's next year. so we'll see you then.
sounds good. see you then. thank you. well, see you in december.