Charlotte Grace and Maria Alexandrescu
in collaboration with Evelina Gambino, Human Geographer @ UCL, Tekla Aslanishvili, Georgian Film-maker, Louis Schulz @ Assemble.

DS3 confronts imagination, ideology and narratives of power that produce and are produced by architectural and territorial projects, be they objects, cities, landscapes, or entire states. We look at architecture’s role as an instrument of political agency, relating the figure of the architect to the forces of power through a committed and critical reading of the site at a multitude of scales – from the dividual subject of the worker and citizen (Gilles Deleuze), through the instrumentality of power and out to the global forces operating via the extra-state (Keller Easterling, Deborah Cowen). We use the term “project” as both noun and verb. Thus, while we look at objects and landscapes for what they are, we do so to uncover what they do. The architectural discipline not only enacts but projects – through narrative, drawing, and image. We focus on how politics produces and re-produces objects, but also how architectural objects form political space through positioning, gesture, use, and affect. Rather than heading to more “obvious” sites of struggle to explore spaces of political confrontation, we aim to explore and produce glitches in the smoothness of the space of late-capitalist development. What has resulted from this commitment over the past three years is a recurring interest in the tensions between infrastructure and the spectacle : how they aid and reproduce each other in urbanity and territory. Spectacle and Infrastructure act as anchors through which we can look at the flow of bodies, goods, capital and images through our globalised and (post?)-crisis context.

This year we look once again at the yet-to-be-realised Extrastate Zone of Anaklia, set to be a major node in the largest infrastructure project ever project-ed, the New Silk Road. A site currently in transformation, Anaklia is located in the transition-state (meaning both “nation” and “condition”) of Georgia, a land between mountains and lakes that topographically divide ‘east’ from ‘west’, and layered with the legacies and project(ion)s of a number of empires, and vulnerable to the contemporary power of hyper-neoliberal investment, all of which have produced – and left behind –
an archipelago of spectacular and infrastructural objects upon the landscape. Anaklia is a site at the intersection and interaction of these legacies, objects, landscapes, and futures, where they expose the multi-scalar subsumption of territory into Late Capitalism on the ground and in the imagination. DS3 asks students to come with the same bravery used to face the non-ideological (Rotterdam) and the over-imagined (Venice) of previous years to confront a space where the structures of imperial legacies must be acknowledged but not fetishised; where the history and geography of imagination could be used to curb, confront, interrupt and interfere with the escalation of neoliberal hegemony.

Trip : Tbilisi / Chiatura / Batumi / Anaklia (8 days)

Key themes: Project (n.)/ Project (v.); Landscape / Object; City, State, Extrastate; Architecture / Geopolitics; Logistics/Municipalism; Failure / Success; Need / Desire; Politics / Ideology; Limit / Possibility; Power / Resistance