by Paula Nascimento and Stefano Rabolli Pansera
Beyond Entropy is a cultural agency operating on a North-South tie-up, stretching from London to Luanda through a multiplicity of cultural interventions on conflicting territoriality, architectural research and dissipation of energy
Mangiabarche Gallery, Fondazione MACC, Courtesy of BeyondEntropy Ltd
Beyond Entropy uses the concept of energy as a privileged tool to analyse territorial conditions and to develop proposals in the form of architectural interventions, curatorial projects and cultural analysis. This choice derives from the urgency with which energy has been raised in recent years in political, economical and scientific debates, but not so much in cultural ones. Indeed energy has often been considered either an exclusively technical issue (to be solved by engineers or highly specialised technicians) or as something relating to the rhetoric of sustainability and therefore to be treated from a social, ecological and ultimately technical point of view. Currently Beyond Entropy is working in three territories: Europe, the Mediterranean and Africa. The agency, based in London, stretches on a imaginary North-South axis from Northern Europe to Sub- Saharan Africa, passing through the basin of the Mediterranean. In every region Beyond Entropy develops a territorial model that answers to specific spatial conditions.
Beyond Entropy Europe develops workshops and territorial analysis in order to understand and dwell in contemporary European territory. Its aim is to envision a new form of occupation for the contemporary landscape by focusing on the urban sprawl as an entropic landscape.
As Aldo Rossi described at the beginning of A Scientific Autobiography: “Max Planck was thrilled by the fact that work is not dissipated but it remains stored for many years, never diminished, latent, in a block of stone until when, a day, it may happen that this same block falls upon a passer-by and kills him. Indeed, in every artist or scientist, the principle of continuation of energy is interlinked with the research of happiness and of death. Even in Architecture this research is related to the Material and to Energy, without this observation it is not possible to understand any construction neither from the static point of view nor from the formal point of view.”1
Beyond Entropy Mediterranean focuses on Sardinia as a territory of conflicts defined by a bipolar use of space, where irreconcilable conditions coexist: sea and land, natural reserve and touristic exploitation, large infrastructures and deserted islands, overcrowded coastlines during summer and depopulated villages during winter. These conditions reverberate along the entire Mediterranean coast, from Spain to Lebanon. How can we imagine a future for the Mediterranean beyond the dialectic opposition of exploitation and protection?
The project of the Mediterranean Kunsthalle is centred on the open-air gallery of Mangiabarche as a possible epicentre for the entire Mediterranean coastline. It lies near Calasetta, a small village in southern Sardinia that was founded by Genovese tradesmen in the 17th century as a hub on the route to Tunisia. The gallery’s deteriorating building constitutes a model for development that does not rely on new construction but on the transformation of what is already there. No volume has been added to the barracks, no wall has been built. The simple removal of the roof transforms the entire building into a white ruin gleaming under the sun. The walls now form the backdrop for artistic interventions that are exposed to the atmospheric conditions and decay with time.
Beyond Entropy Africa focuses on Luanda as the paradigm of the urban condition of the African sub-Saharan region, a type of city defined by a lack of basic infrastructures and a high-density population. The proposal introduces a new common ground, which performs simultaneously as public space and infrastructure.
Beyond Entropy curated the Republic of Angola’s national representation at the 55th Venice Biennale in 2013. Central to the pavilion is a reflection on the ways in which images are used to give form to the way the city is experienced. How can knowledge of a city be organised through the taxonomy of its spaces? Edson Chagas’s Found Not Taken series concentrates on the systematic cataloguing of abandoned objects that are repositioned within an urban context to create new relationships between object and context, form and its codification. What relationships are created between spaces and their images? What roles are imagination and creativity allowed to play in this urban taxonomy? In the ambiguity of a vision which uncovers and nonetheless reconstructs, what is delineated is an urban cartography mixing documentary-like precision and poetic reconstruction: a new way of observing the encyclopaedic wealth of spaces around us and, perhaps, a new way of inhabiting these spaces.
1. Aldo Rossi, A Scientific Autobiography, 1981, available online at: http://mediacen- tre.kallaway.co.uk/pdf/100809-Beyond-Entropy-Guide-Inner-Preview.pdf