This project is probably the most problematic that I got to publish so far. In one of the most current articles, about the book Camouflage written by Neil Leach, I evoked the chapter entitled Sacrifice in which he recounts the tale of Master Manole who imprisoned his wife within the wall that he was building.
This architectural narrative (which was presented as a book and made it to the finals of 2010 Riea Book Competition) by Eduardo McIntosh seems to follow a similar path in an even more disturbing representation. He, in fact, describes an obscure massacre that occurred in 2001 in Afghanistan when the Taliban soldiers fought against the Northern Alliance (led by Massoud) to gain the control of the city of Mazar-i-Sharif (fourth biggest city in Afghanistan). Eduardo uses this context in order to create something that, to be honest, I did not know architecture was able to do. He fictitiously describes the construction of a mass grave in which the 3000 dead bodies are directly used as bricks. He then even go further in the horror with the introduction of a chemical reaction between the bodies and the rich soil of Afghanistan that produces the birth of a “poppy Anthropophagus” which produce a high production of opiate. This opiate, producing opium or morphine can then be introduced in the economical loop that is always more or less involved in the contemporary warfare. In this narrative, the horror of war is therefore fully part of the globalized system of production.
I am extremely disturbed by his images which remind me of the Sadian film Salo by Pier Paolo Pasolini. In fact, there is something eminently Sadian in this narrative as the bodies, even dead, remain objects of empathy from the spectator who is both fascinated and repulsed at the same time by the absolute power expressed by a body (the soldier/mason) on another (the corpse).
Once again, even if I pursue the claim that architecture carries inherently a violence on the body, I could not imagine that an architecture per say (even if it is represented as a narrative) could reach this level of horror. The neutral tone used by Eduardo for his text and his images helps even more to reach this degree of violence as it emphasize its banality (as I was already evoking in my article Violence on the Body).
With this narrative, Eduardo thus increase our imaginary of human violence and include us, architects, as potential actors of the dark side of History. In a similar way than Hannah Arendt’s work, he force us to look at pure evil without allowing us to comfortably exclude ourselves from it.
He also remind us the expressive power of representation that is usually considered by architects as a simple mean to please the eyes and therefore to comfort the mind.
By Eduardo McIntosh on The Funambulist:
– Imagining Recovery (another architectural narrative)
– Autonomous Living Units
– The Architecture of Deceit (his manifesto)