roulotte:04

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Roulotte. Martí Peran

The illusion of every mobile home was developed as a myth of late modernity, but behind this genealogical line, the modern roulotte has been moved to a profile with a huge critical potential as opposed to a large part of the conventions of the same modernity. The declining which could summarize this process is widely known. The first episode embodies Raymond Roussel’s famous “maison roulante”, designed to inject the possibility of mobility into the domestic comfort of private luxury accommodation. It hardly attempted to combine the illusion of having a private refuge with the modern fascination for the car. In his wake, the aerodynamic experiments by Buckminster Fuller added a new patina of cosmopolitism to a number of prototypes quite close to the shipping spirit of Le Corbusier’s architecture. The mobile home thus seemed paradoxically like the paradigm of a new way to be still anchored to the world. We had to wait until the renewed imagination of the postwar to witness the beginning of inflection. Since Archigram we have begun to imagine a city devoid of territory thanks to technology able to diversify movements; a possibility still politically speaking quite neutral which soon Constant would be in charge of correcting when he highlighted the antagonistic transforming power of the “principle of disorientation”. From that moment on, mobile homes shed their original features (as a private expanded refuge, as the possibility of a traveler’s colonization of new places and as a technological tool to broaden the tentacle like cohesion of territory) to turn into a sort of toll for critical nomadic lifestyle, deforming established routes and ways, and far from the musts of an epistemology based on belonging.

As opposed to the formats of driven mobility in which modernity was occupied (traveling and defined routes within a city), the new roulotte moves by means of a generating circulation of several vectors of direction. It is no longer about guaranteeing a connection between two points allowing the controlled network to be extended but the chance of multiplying trips until shedding territory which makes the conventional cartographic perspective relative. Moving without traveling. The roulotte no longer sails along the routes that were previously mapped but crisscrosses them to create its own routes. This is the underlying transforming power of nomadic lifestyle, able to deform the devised reticule and therefore, making it difficult for the efficiency of control mechanisms commanded by traditional urban planning: residing without inhabiting. Opposed to the illusion of a static territory and city able to orchestrate the movements made inside them (from the room-like areas to productive and consumer ones) with the exclusive score written from the hierarchy of private interest, the unforeseen travels of the new roulotte dislocate the places and established functions of space, they act like parasites for the foreseen with what is unexpected and they intersect what is public and private by returning to the public sphere subjectivity and emotion which was usurped from it. From the roulotte one stays overnight where one did not plan, domestic appropriations are made of common space and one controls the succession of scenes which pass by the windows a la carte: the multiplication of collisions between events and spaces of a true architecture of action. The roulotte thus bursts in like unnerved architecture, like a focus of events and node of constant traffic. The city seen as a passing place not a destination, which furthermore allows one to turn around the convention which distinguishes between civilized centers and periphery to be conquered. The temporary nature of every small camp on the urban margins, turns its availability into its own subjective productivity, fertilizes for one evening even a new intermezzo.

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Roulotte:04 has been devised purposely for the project Post-it City. Occasional Urbanities(www.ciutatsocasionals.net) The main purpose of this research consists of detecting different techniques for temporary occupation of the public spaces in today’s cities for all kinds of activities (commercial, leisure, sex,..) and with the conviction that behind them one may equally recognize new subjective emergencies as well as responses to the new social emergencies. When bursting into the public space unpredictably and ungovernably, the post-it phenomena upset the conventional backdrop of the city, turning it into a plural territory crossed by all that is parasitical and skilful, by recycling and creative work; but they also show up the new forms of marginalization and exclusion, compelled to subsist through flexible features to temporarily conquer spaces belonging to citizens by constant mobility and, often, a compelled secrecy. Inside this Post-it City occasional situation are multiplied like this with the double feature of resistance and emergency. In this context, Roulotte considers it was appropriate to articulate this edition by presenting a huge collection of roulottes and caravans, susceptible of being interpreted almost as a paraphrase of the same idea of Post-it City. In the end roulottes are the perfect example of a mobile architectural feature which behaves unpredictably and is able to appear and disappear with absolute agility.

The materials presented make up an open repertoire not a closed catalogue. As it could be no other way, there is no common route or any map organizing the order and destination of each caravan. The unit is combined almost at random, different pictures from very different origins. The only criterion has been marked by very elementary guidelines: to give certain priority to scenes in the metropolitan area of Barcelona and, on the other hand, to work starting from those pictures linked to art or research projects which develop, whether this is the final aim or as a consequence of previous work processes, a documentary-like approach to the real phenomenon of these tiny occasional traveling cities.

(December 2007)