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Lava Brick

submitted by

Elena Perez Guembe

‘Lava brick” and spaces around the clay, in the house-workshop of a Zapotec artisan. Photos: Elena Perez Guembe

Clay body-house body: the cosmic body

This lava brick resulted from a situated project that studies, through making, the house–workshop of a Zapotec woman artisan who hosted me over two long periods of time.

The process of working with clay externalised the knowledge of my thinking body by materialising embodied memories in the brick (the 2017 earthquake in Mexico, my training as an architect, etc.), while at the same time internalising new bodily memories created in the process of making and through daily practice in the spaces where the activity took place. Thus, I could tacitly assimilate the spaces’ practical and symbolic functions, everyday dynamics, embedded rituals, and the myths that structure and give meaning to them. The thinking mind comes into play when an architectural analysis is made a posteriori, processing information and making explicit a vast cultural knowledge embedded in spaces that otherwise would have been overlooked because of their seemingly ‘simple’ or ‘uninteresting’ appearance.

Submitted by
Elena Perez Guembe is a licensed architect, currently undertaking a PhD at TU Delft in the Netherlands. Elena has worked in the offices of Zaha Hadid, Rafael Moneo, and Nicholas Grimshaw, and has taught at RPI School of Architecture in New York. Her work has been exhibited at the 2018 Venice Biennale as well as at the 2019 Lisbon Triennale.


This object is part of the TACK Exhibition “Unausgesprochenes Wissen / Unspoken Knowledge / Le (savoir) non-dit”, in the section “Making and Materiality”.