Excerpt from MAP 002 QUARANTINE by David Garcia Studio
This second issue is three years old and David Garcia Studio already published the fifth opus of their MAPs, but I figured that it could be a useful element for the blog’s archives. This historical map of epidemics and the quarantine devices that were born from them is part of the publication MAP 002 QUARANTINE that D.Garcia created in parallel of Nicola Twiley and Geoff Manaugh’s exhibition at the New York Storefront for Arts and Architecture: Landscapes of Quarantine (see the previous article around this topic).
Quarantine is a simple mathematical calculation that creates the precautionary incarceration of a certain amount of people for the sake of a larger number of others. Its architectural implication is the intrinsic potential of each building to become instantly an incarcerating space. Although some spaces of quarantine have been specifically designed to host such a function (in hospitals or harbors for example), the speed of a given epidemics can be so fast that any space can potentially be transformed into a quarantine territory. Albert Camus’ Plague is a good example of such a potentiality as it depicts the entire city of Oran (Algeria) imprisoned from the rest of the world when an epidemics of plague occurs.
Quarantine is the quintessence of the territorialization of the law. It applies itself on anybody present on a given territory, whether this body is de facto contaminated or not, without distinction of social status or any other discriminating characteristics. In that case, the law unfolds the incarcerating power of architecture. The latter (whether we talk of a single building or of a city), without changing anything to its physical characteristics, enforces containment on its users/subjects who soon experience its uncompromising power through its physical elements (walls, floors, ceilings etc. ). Under the regime of quarantine, architecture, which was materially enforcing the law of property by preventing other bodies from coming-in, now prevents the bodies already inside (the grantees of property) to come-out.
The temporary status of such a law -quarantine comes from its original length of containment, i.e. 40 days- justifies its extreme characteristics. As we know, however, temporary often tends towards durability and the state of exception does not requires much to become the rule.