Geni: A de-TEMERized object
Author: Gabriela Ozório/ Advisor: Ana Rolim
On International Women's Day 2017, the President of Brazil, Michel Temer, delivered a speech emphasizing that women should be astute followers of the household budget and price fluctuations, in addition to taking care of household chores, and still be responsible for the education of their children, gaining more and more space in the job market. This speech had a great impact on the media and academic circles, especially considering that, according to the Institute for Applied Economic Research of Brazil (IPEA), despite working harder and having a higher education rate than men, women continue to earn any less.
In order to confront this discourse, the Contemporary Architecture and Urbanism course, taught by Ana Rolim at the Architecture and Urbanism School Unicap, organized the design competition ‘De-TEMERize: the domestic space of the woman who does not fear’. Open to all students, the briefing called for the design of a temporary object in response to the president's vision through the interpretation of the domestic space. The opportunity aimed to stimulate critical thinking about a relevant issue, aligning theory and practice, an essential connection for academic development and the exercise of citizenship, in addition to promoting student engagement in design contests.
The main rule was simple and direct: conceive a 2m x 2m x 2m object to be located in the pilotis of a school building, which could be easily transported without the help of vehicles to other areas in the campus. The evaluation criteria were as follows: originality; critical positioning and argumentation of the parti; plasticity and spatiality; feasibility (structural stability, low cost of construction materials, agility in execution and assembly time), and excellence in graphic representation. Proposals needed to be submitted in a postcard format, following the template provided by the competition organization.
The judging panel elected the proposal entitled ‘Geni: A de-TEMERized object’ as the winner. The object’s name referred to a famous Chico Buarque's song called ‘Geni and the Zeppelin’, wrote in 1979, when the country was under a military coup, Its polemical lyrics relate to the female body, frequently referred in situations where people are victims of moral patrolling:
Throw a stone at Geni
Throw a stone at Geni
She is made to catch
She's good at spitting
She can give anyone Damn Geni
(Geni and the Zeppelin, Chico Buarque, 1979)
Geni departs from understanding that the president’s speech is heavily sexist. It manifests the interface between the calumnies of the traditional home – such as the ones contained in the president’s speech - and the real world, materializing in a tensioned-skin object. In this interface, real and false realities intersect, where the woman seeks herself, tries to project herself, but only her silhouette is identified by those who observe her efforts to launch herself into the real world. Although its projection sometimes occupies space in the real world, there is always a thin, almost imperceptible layer that drags her body backwards and into the small place assigned to it. This is a space into which the woman is depreciated, undervalued and oppressed. Geni is the physical representation of the side effects caused by the non-critical repetition of the characteristics of archaic housing, which no longer represent the structure of contemporary society.
With building materials donated by local business owners and a carpentry shop, students, professor, and volunteers carried out the construction in less than two days. Access occurs through a slot through the elastic building skin that replicates genitalia, through which people enter and exit, alluding to the rebirth that one could feel once the condition of annulment or oppression by society was gone. The structure is made of recycled 5cm x 5cm x 2m timber, mimicking the boundaries of a house, in addition to triangular corner buttresses. The building skin is made of colorful spandex stapled to the wood structure, with sufficient elasticity to support the projection of human bodies on its surface. Inside, there is a foam mattress that creates a welcoming feeling, and an wood and nylon display next to the entrance features all proposals submitted to the competition.