Hijacking Urban Decay: Dilapidated Re-animated Expo

The fabric of the city is wrought with abandoned hulks, spent spaces, and urban orphans. The blanket urban decay of the city has become the vernacular. Given the constraints of private ownership these buildings have become hopeless and functionless. How can one exploit this given framework of program-less spaces, which have been rendered useless and become the backdrop for the tragic play of everyday life?

The city could take ownership of theses properties and relinquish this space for public use. One could imagine all of the abandoned spaces in Baltimore linked together to form a new urban park of modern ruins, housing public theaters; community centers where a myriad of sports and civic activities could take place; a whole new world of possibilities unfolds as the public catches a glimpse behind the walls of the previously unobtainable. And then…

You would need to need to staff them, regulate them, maintain them, soften them, temper them, control them, and charge admission, stripping them of any meaning and any authenticity.

What you want in life you have to go out and take.

The entering and use of this forbidden urban space constitutes a crime, or at the least some element of risk. Potentially useful space becomes useless by public decree. Behind barriers of plywood, things COULD happen, but this potential “free” space currently enjoys no function—if one were to break down the barrier and enter the space they would automatically become criminals, therefore; the only valid function for these structures is in criminal, arbitrary, dangerous or FREE program.

In the brutal acceptance of this distopic reality anything could happen; how does one take advantage of this perfectly constructed urban waste to facilitate events that reclaim program, even for one minute, one hour, one night?

Waste is a thief—so lets chop of the thief’s hand and instill meaning through the manipulation of program: free architecture! What would you do with a building? There are 40,000 of them—pick one.

Pick one and develop a process for manipulation; develop a program for temporal use. People are invited to it, or warned not to come. We will display the artifacts of possibility; a matrix of free use from the trite to the epic. Somewhere within this spectrum a direction will be chosen and realized in real time and real space for public consumption, participation, approval, or disgust.

Over a period of one weekend multiple interactions were staged in abandoned spaces throughout Baltimore. Actions as mundane as having a meal or reading a book gave way to the absurdity of having a musical performance for no one in the belly of a dilapidated rowhouse. The documentation of these events were organized into an exhibition for Baltimore’s “Artscape” 2006. For the exhibition a projection tower was built to broadcast the images as well as a tunnel space where the video of the acts was played surrounded by photographs and artifacts from the hijacked spaces.