One of six installations for the digital exhibition by winners of the 2021 League Prize.

At a time when daily life has become overwhelmingly restricted, our installation for The Architectural League Prize 2021: Housekeeping is born out of a new set of self-imposed constraints: a place, a few tools, a limited number of hands, a fixed time interval, and the will to use only what we can find onsite. 

Inspired by Enrique Walker’s text “Under Constraint,” which describes the work of writers and filmmakers who followed self-imposed restrictions, we hoped to open “unexpected paths of production,” in Walker’s phrase, by working within strict limitations. 

Thinking and making are not independent processes in our practice; they are one. Time overlaps and unfolds. Thus, we did not know where this path would lead us. 

At Playa del Barro, near Sayulita on the Pacific coast of Mexico, we walked the site, thought about its possibilities, then returned. Ten people, seven shovels, seven hours. Sun, sand, wind, and water. Creating with what is already there. Adding nothing. Pure entropy, with no geographical displacement within the territory. A territory reduced to a few square meters of sand on the beach. Displacements on the scale of the human body. What a shovelful can pick up; what a few arms can throw. What a body can endure throughout a day under the sun. 

Early in the morning, a stick and a rope determine a perimeter. Space is produced by the physical force generated by a human body. A space that could have been there before the arrival of any soul. A space produced mechanically. An infinite repetition throughout a day. A movement repeated until exhaustion, almost reaching a state of trance; a repetition that generates a shape; a shape that exists from the very first shovelful; one shovelful after another, scaling up in incremental progression. 

At the end of the day, the body, exhausted, rests its back against the sand that it has moved. Flesh and bones cool down under the shade projected by the geometry of the piece. The gaze is directed to the sky. Sky and sand: nothing else exists, forming a horizon that seemed impossible just a few hours ago. The place is not the same anymore, even though the body that produced it has moved only a few meters back and forth. 

The piece is thick, pure mass; the kind of mass that typically appears everlasting. Time, however, does not allow such concessions. The sea will take care of the base; the wind will attack the ledges. What never was will get back to not being. What once existed will disappear.

Project Team: Carmen Bentabol, Nia Jorquera, Jorge Mañas Álvarez, José Méndez, Adrián Rámirez, Alexandre Bergeron, Jorge Antonio Bravo, Melissa Cardoso, Andrés Flores, Casimiro González, Laura Polvorilla, César Robles, Benito Rivera

Ilse Cárdenas, Regina de Hoyos, Diego Escamilla, Juan Luis Rivera

Film by Roberto Escamilla-Garduño. Drone photos by Daniel Spencer and Spencer Harris