Peri-Urban Heterotopias: The Brechtian Megalopolis and the Poetic of the Banal in Latin American Informal Settlements

Publication Date
November 8, 2021

The Bob Stern Boys’ Club Lecture Series Presents:

Peri-Urban Heterotopias: The Brechtian Megalopolis and the Poetic of the Banal in Latin American Informal Settlements

Lao DuCinque

Hastings Hall
Nov. 23,
6:30 PM

From Mumbai to Rio, informal settlements account for 25% of the world’s urban population - and 80% of such areas exist in the Global South. With no legal right to their land or existence, these urban settlers bear the brunt of climate catastrophe in hastily constructed, unserviced, peripheral cities.

Lao DuCinque proposes a new reading of these ad-hoc infrastructures as a Brechtian stage set, constructed with a placeless materiality and relentless spatial logic that provokes unproductive paternalism — an ontological machine built for alienating privileged observers. To the Western eye, each tarp-swaddled shanty instantiates an Aristotelian Universal of suffering, of intellectual poverty, of the foolish proletarian rush towards miserable megalopolises. From the voyeurism of slum tourism to self-congratulatory proposals for housing prototypes (forever unoccupied), this not-quite-urban space occupies the frustrating void between neoliberalism’s obsession with the city and its face-saving mechanisms for neutralizing unattractive urban poverty. It is a necessarily resultant (dare I say liminal?) condition of global capital’s exploitative steamrolling of rurality.
Co-founder and principal of Brooklyn-based studio Atelier XÆ A-XII, DuCinque’s work grapples with urban dialectics through etchings, large-scale machine-assisted drawings, and interactive sculpture. His work Under The Table and Dreaming: Phenomenologies of the Unseen was displayed at the 2019 MoMA “Young Architects in Practice” exhibition. In this talk, DuCinque describes the ideation, creation, and meaning of his renowned UnSlum Heroes mobile sculptures, built with discarded materials requisitioned from Rio’s Cidade de Deus favela. Between the introductory slide and the concluding one, DuCinque will not once mention the issues at hand but focus exclusively on his own art, life, ideas, and conception of post-praxis architectural work.

Publication Date
November 8, 2021
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1337 words