SYNCRETIC PRACTICES BETWEEN ART AND ARCHITECTURE: TOWARDS A CRITICAL EPISTEMIC PRACTICE FOR SOCIAL ENGAGEMENT.
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This thesis proceeds from an analysis and a critical assessment of socially engaged spatial practices that have arisen from the convergence, intersections and conflicts between public, social art, and architecture’s spatial practices; specifically, those situated within informal settlements of marginalized communities in Latin America. Through a literature review, the thesis identifies the persistence of a number of overarching misconceptions informing the design thinking of art and architecture’s spatial practices. This research is geographically framed in Latin America. The thesis develops within the contextual arena of informality as a vernacular practice in the informal settlements of marginalized communities at the borderlands of the Latin-American city. The thesis is informed by projects and interventions that artist and architects have developed and constructed within communities in these borderlands sites. The thesis contends that public and social art and architecture spatial practices in the site of poor marginalized communities perpetuate the colonizing attitudes and processes of extractivist capitalism. To substantiate this, claim the research has been informed by two case studies of art and architecture spatial practice. The projects this thesis focuses on are located in the informal settlements of La Perla in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and in Ciudad Bolivár, Bogotá, Colombia. These are the sites where the impact and effect of artists’ and architects’ spatial practices were observed. The content of this research results from conversations and observations within these communities, thus weaving a communal narrative of epistemic injustices, resistance, appropriation and place-making. The purpose of this thesis is to contribute to the decolonization of the working paradigms of art and architecture’s spatial practices. It begins by outlining a methodology for identifying epistemic and hermeneutical injustices in the design thinking of artists and architects; this is followed by the proposal for a critical epistemology to guide the design thinking of art and architecture’s spatial practices away from their epistemic errors. The thesis provides a model for further practical exploration by uncovering the epistemological problems in the design thinking of artist and architects. This research speculates a design-thinking solution of a critical epistemic methodology for artists and architects to develop a socially sensible epistemology of justice and solidarity for a socio-spatial practice that promotes social engagement in marginalized and disenfranchised communities.