The word ‘collaborative’ should make you as suspicious as the word ‘sustainable’ since both are used to vindicate projects and relationships. But appearing collaborative, like appearing to be happy in the office, is a condition of professional employability, and so the word seems unavoidable and even empty, especially for architects who can’t make a project on their own anyway. At the same time, we hear more and more about ‘collectives.’ Both concepts reflect a society anxious that its mounting crises have something to do with unchecked individualism.
Architects are traditionally uncomfortable with acknowledging their dependence on other actors, so My Invisible Friend invites them to present projects made with non-architects and to reveal the invisible friends without whom their work would be impossible. Each speaker completes three tasks:
1: Tell the story of a decisive encounter with a figure from outside architecture and of how it created a new kind of practice.
2: Pick any dead or fictional non-architect to collaborate with, and explain why.
3: Pick another contemporary architect and a collaborator to inflict upon them, and explain why.
Michiel van Iersel is an independent urbanist, curator, writer, and teacher, currently a Loeb Fellow at Harvard GSD. He cofounded Non-fiction, an Amsterdam-based collective interested in public values and engagement through new rituals, exhibitions and publications, and events. Van Iersel is a tutor at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy/Sandberg Institute and research fellow at the Academy of Architecture in Amsterdam. He also co-founded De Verdieping, a temporary project space for experimental culture, and the ongoing research project “Failed Architecture,” about architectural and urban failures around the world. He was curator of the 2016 International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam and co-curated Places of Hope, an exhibition for Leeuwarden-Friesland European Capital of Culture 2018.
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