ko yaa nis qatsi (from the Hopi language), n.
1. crazy life. 2. life in turmoil. 3. life out of balance. 4. life disintegrating. 5. a state of life that calls for another way of living.
In the 1982 experimental documentary Koyaanisqatsi: Life Out of Balance (the first part of the Quatsi trilogy), God frey Reggio calls attention to what is happening today in the relationship between human beings, nature and technology. 1
This studio confronts the challenge of a new paradigm that is emerging with the rise of a new culture: a culture that I like to describe as the “Americanity” or the “Pacificians” or “Pacifiers.” This word game suggests that America and the Pacific offer clues to an answer. We Americans need to reconnect with our origins, to go back to the land and understand it as sacred. The human species belongs to the earth: we cannot develop life separated from her, as we are part of the land in a face to face process. 2 This means that the territory where we are born shapes our being.
We face the urgency of reconnecting in order to open a new narrative over the territory, which will in turn allow us to build healthy cities, rebalancing life in a post-technological world.
This change of paradigm is necessarily accompanied by the rebalancing of feminine and indigenous communities into the cultural process. The way in which we approach this will be through a concrete project: the MAM Women’s Museum for the Twenty First Century, based in Santiago, capital of Chile.
As a consequence of the process of suppressing the attributes of the feminine in the last 3000 years with the heyday of patriarchy, and the ensuing process of industrialization and technology of the last 200 years, the human being’s link to the naturally sacred has been lost, with a consequent loss of the wisdom and beauty that gives an intimate understanding of nature and its regenerating cycles of life.
Humanity has expanded its access to knowledge, extended its life expectancy, established its cities, and diversified its technologies; but it has also moved away from a sacred, ceremonial and ritual communion with itself, its peers, the community of its ecosystem, and the stars.
The Women’s Museum is therefore more than a collection of objects. It seeks to remember, recreate and activate the sacred spaces of archetypal woman, for the exercise of the word, wisdom, power and rituality that are linked to the force of the feminine in the universe. Its intent is to acknowledge the force of equilibrium and balance that is critical to the great challenges that humanity must face at the dawn of the 21st century. 3
These issues are part of architecture’s challenge in offering a right and meaningful response to the problem. More than a technique for the production of objects, architecture becomes a technique for the construction of relationships in space.
The territory is to America as monuments are to Europe.
As the Chilean anti poet Nicanor Parra has said, “We believe we are a country and the truth is that we are just landscape.” This speaks to the condition of this country: because of its long and narrow shape, compressed between the Andes and the Pacific, the richness of the country is its natural beauty, given by climatic variation from the driest desert in the north to the unexplored glaciers in the south. For the fifth consecutive year, Chile has been named South America’s Best Adventure Travel Destination by the World Travel Awards. From the northern to the southern end of the country, from sea to mountain range, Chile has a natural strength and diversity that makes it unique on the planet. Deserts, volcanoes, glaciers, lakes, mountain ranges, ancient forests and ice fields invite to unforgettable adrenaline filled experiences.
Santiago is a modern city located in the center of Chile, between the Andes range and the coastal range a unique territorial settlement, with Cerro El Plomo at a height of 5430 m. This tight relationship between the Andes and the city gives Santiago a unique territorial relationship with its environment. This condition will inform the design of the museum, located at one of the city’s several Island Hills.
The studio will travel to Santiago de Chile during travel week, to visit the project site and collect information for the final design.
We will also live the experience of the Andes Workshop, in order to understand the place where the project will be settled and live the territorial experience at the far end of the American continent, so as to be able to recognize, from here, our own territory. The Workshop will allow us to live a transdisciplinary experience and to understand how technology develops from common sense and local process. We will attend several classes: “Cuerpo y Espacio” (Body and Space) with the Chilean choreographer Francisca Sazié, “Campo Grabado" (Engraved Field) with the artist and designer Teresa Montero, “Materia” (Material) with the sculptor Vicente Gajardo, “Narrativa” (Narrative) with the journalist and museum curator Aleka Vial, “Registro” (Script) with Ces Serra, a site visit with the naturalist Sergio Elórtegui, and a class on architecture with GrupoTalca (Rodrigo Sheward, Martín del Solar) and Cazú Zegers. At the end of the workshop we will perform a piece at the site in order to mark the opening ceremony for the se new possibilities. The work will be recorded with audiovisual media and will form part of the final project.
- In 2000 the film was deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” by the Library of Congress, and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.
- Ricardo Rozzi, Chilean ecologist, philosopher, and father of biocultural ethics.
- Aleka Vial de Grenade, extract from proposal.