I’m absolutely thrilled to have curated this show, with Nicola Twilley of Edible Geography, and I can’t wait to see it finally open for view. On the other hand, this week is an absolute mania of painting, material deliveries, installation, cleaning, and more, which means I’ll probably be a bit thin on posts for the next few days.
The last four or five months, of course, have seen a wide variety of quarantine-themed interviews and posts here on BLDGBLOG, but it’s worth reminding both myself and others why quarantine is worthy of architectural attention in the first place—as a spatial experience of waiting, isolation, and, often, emotional claustrophobia.
At its most basic, quarantine is the creation of a hygienic boundary between two or more things, for the purpose of protecting one from exposure to the other. It is a strategy of separation and containment—a spatial response to suspicion, threat, and uncertainty. From Chernobyl’s Zone of Exclusion to the artificial quarantine islands of the New York archipelago, and from camps set up to house HIV+ Haitian refugees at Guantánamo Bay to the modified Airstream trailer within which returning Apollo astronauts once waved at President Nixon, the landscapes of quarantine are as varied as they are unexpected.
Each of the works on display in the exhibition responds to some aspect of quarantine, from the “dark math” of triage and the ethical challenge of enforced isolation to the geological timescale of nuclear-waste sequestration. The works range from a wall-sized infographic comparing the infrastructural bubbles inside of which illegally imported orchids and the President of the United States, respectively, live, to a tear-off & take-home short story inspired by the idea of a Quarantine Administration bureaucracy. There are designs for a new, multi-player iPhone game called “Cordon Sanitaire”; field notes and sketches from North Brother Island, the final home of Typhoid Mary; a special issue of David Garcia’s Manual of Architectural Possibilities (M.A.P.); and much more.
The exhibition will be up until Saturday, April 17—but, if you want even more, there will be a series of ticketed, quarantine-themed dinners in early April.
The reception kicks off at 7pm on Tuesday, March 9; it is free and open to the public (and there will be free beer, generously donated by Brooklyn Brewery). I hope to see some of you there!