How do you define activism in design?

 

The Land of a Thousand Tanks

 

Discovered via Pruned

Sanjukta Sen and Nicholas Pevzner interviewed Mathur + Dilip da Cunha for Places:Design Observer recently.

One thing I found interesting is that the authors didn’t differentiate between the husband and wife within the interview/transcript. They simply list the answer/response as being from both.

Anu Mathur + Dilip da Cunha answered the above question as follows.

So our brand of activism is quite different from the more prevalent variety, which is design-build activism. For us, the questioning begins early — way before the project is shovel-ready. It actually begins with preparing the ground that someday will be shoveled — and not just the actual ground, but also the conceptual ground for questions and conversations. This is why we’ve worked so much through public exhibitions — for instance, in the case of Deccan Traverses and SOAK.

The pretty explicit suggestion of designer as curator and educator is in my mind interesting. There is something very similar in what they say here, to what the CLUI or The Center for Urban Pedagogy does. This to me is very attractive as a professional model. Chiefly because it is not as wonky as pure think tank, policy type work, yet it seems to offer a very direct way to influence both the public and also (or even by extension) the policy maker(s). The approach seems so ripe with agency (to use a perhaps, to loaded “critically” word).

Again, as they explain towards the end of the piece, “Material transformations can be achieved through the education of citizens or students who will as a result “make” things differently in the longer durée.”

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