For architect, writer, and curator Andrés Jaque, architecture is first and foremost a political activity, with every aspect of the discipline shaped by conflicts, negotiations, and compromises between stakeholders—whether city council representatives, real estate developers, construction workers, residents, squatters and bystanders. In the context of the exhibition POWER he discusses the codependent relationship between the material production of collective desire for high-end life and environmental disposession.
Jaque’s performance Being Silica premiered at Performa 2021 and addresses the codependent relationship between New York City and its neighboring territories encapsulated in UltraClear™ glass, a new building material that became a fixture of luxury towers in the past two decades.
Unlike standard clear glass which, if viewed from an edge appears green in hue, the edges of UltraClear™ glass are seemingly transparent with a 91% light transmission rate. Made of silica, a low-iron mineral, this new type of glass aligns with ideals of a pollution-free city, in which skyscrapers residents enjoy expanses of clear blue skies. The highly sought-after Silica, however, is produced through horizontal fracking––a highly toxic process that is banned in New York State. Being Silica engages with how much green agendas in metropolitan cities happened at the expense of peripheral areas such as Illinois, where silica is extracted, and Pennsylvania, where fracking takes place to produce the energy required to manufacture the new glass.
Andrés Jaque, Phd Architect (ETSAM), is Dean of Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation. Jaque is the founder of the Office for Political Innovation, an architectural practice based in New York and Madrid, Spain, and has been teaching advanced design studios at Columbia GSAPP since 2013. His architectural work includes ‘Reggio School’, ‘Plasencia Clergy House’, ‘House in Never Never Land’, ‘TUPPER HOME’, ‘ESCARAVOX’ or ‘COSMO MoMA PS1’. The Office for Political Innovation has been awarded with the SILVER LION to the Best Research Project at the 14th Venice Biennale. Andrés Jaque was the Chief Curator of the 13th Shanghai Biennale in 2021 and Co-Curator of Manifesta 12 in Palermo.