‘For us a book is a small building’, takes its title from a quote by British architect Alison Smithson who has come back to prominence following the recent demolition of Robin Hood Gardens, a housing estate in east London designed by Smithson together with her partner Peter Smithson that was built in 1972. Emblematic of new brutalism, the housing estate’s demolition was fervently resisted by heritage activists and architects – a fragment of it, salvaged by the Victoria & Albert museum will be on display at the upcoming Venice Architecture Biennale – yet relatively ignored by public opinion. In Ordinariness and Light, after Alison and Peter Smithson (all works 2018), Fragateiro presents a stainless steel replica placed on the wall like a shelf, made of the cover of the eponymous book, written by the Smithsons in 1970, which studies a city's urban spaces as a living organism. Drawing from the socio-political implications of modern housing and the conceptual research of the Smithsons, Fragateiro implies parallels with Lisbon’s current urban transformations. On show, As found is a long suspended fragment of wall crossing the gallery main space, that comes from the debris of the so-called informal dwellings of the May 6 neighbourhood of Lisbon’s Amadora district, destroyed to give way to the urbanization of the Portuguese capital’s periphery. Minimalist, the exhibition points, through its select fragments, at the lack of consideration political decisions have on the lives of a city’s more vulnerable communities.
- Cristina Sanchez-Kozyreva