Chapter 01: Space Within These Lines Not Dedicated
What does it mean to build using inherited knowledge as your guide? How can we explore earth and soil as a medium for remembering? What does it mean to move through a structure whose nature both resists and affirms containment? ‘A structure with exit pathways’1: solid, yet fluid; impermeable, yet porous.
I propose an infrastructure of togetherness which connects with knowledge systems, borrowing from age-old and traditional, yet very basic architectural techniques—that my grandmother’s generation utilized in processes of building a home—to create a loose structure in situ. The structure will utilize soil both as a medium for its construction, but also as a tool for remembrance. My grandmother’s generation saw the practice of building as a community building practice, whereby the building site is transformed into a space for togetherness: a space from where to create and recreate identities, to sharpen agency, to preserve a sense of rootedness through storytelling, historytelling and knowledge sharing, and to form one’s own understanding of the world.
I am therefore borrowing from this practice, extending it by creating a multi-dimensional and multi-functional site for a collective building of a non-rigid structure for remembrance, for preservation, for conversation, for nurturing and communion, and for tracing and planting oneself within a geography. The structure created here will gain a performative life of its own, as it slowly deteriorates with time, and in the absence of a community to maintain it.
Here the act of making becomes both metaphor and measure. It is not limited to material form: what is made is also intangible, social. In the shared act of making, we bond earth to earth and people to people. The desire here is not for an end to the process. A house may be built, but eventually must be rebuilt. Houses of earth don’t last forever, at least not without a community around them to care for, and maintain them.. And so this infrastructure brings us together in a continuous association, in a commitment to an ongoing making without an end. It is a foundation, a base, a premise.
Infrastructure of Togetherness was initiated by Rehema Chachage as part of her ongoing research. This chapter Space Within These Lines Not Dedicated was realized collaboratively and in care with Dale Lawrence and Chantal Vorobei Thieves. We give thanks to the RAW Académie 9 fellows and organisers for their contributions at various stages enabling this to come alive.