Twelve Cautionary Urban Tales

The installation at the Matadero in Madrid proposes a speculative political arena in which the wisdom of nature is highly valued and where the flora is on equal terms with the humans inhabiting the planet.

Location Madrid, Spain
Curator Ethel Baraona Pohl, César Reyes
Set design Taller de Casquería
Time frame 2019-2020
Client Matadero
Photography SCB & Matadero Madrid with Lukasz Michalak, Estudio Perplejo

Taking inspiration from the project “Twelve Cautionary Tales for Christmas,” by the group of radical architects Superstudio, first published in 1971 in the magazine Architectural Design, Twelve Cautionary Urban Tales is an exhibition that raises new narratives in the way we talk about the city. A group of contemporary practices, from different generations and a range of professional expertise have been invited to give shape to these Twelve Cautionary Urban Tales by reconceptualising the original format of Superstudio and transforming the exhibition into a tool to help us rethink our role in the building of the city.

The Parliament of Plants proposes an urban environment where the wisdom of plants is highly valued, where the flora is on equal terms as the humans inhabiting the planet. Citizens have a great respect for their knowledge of social and economic biotopes, as well as their deep knowledge of natural processes. The woody, leafy, and flowering beings head the parliament of the sixth city since its founding, becoming the first green democracy known to the world. With similar protocols to those currently used in the legislative arena, in this parliament of vegetation, plant legislators from different origins convene on a daily basis to debate current issues. Yet in contrast to the constant confrontation and tension found in “human” political contexts, this parliament of plants usually comes to a consensus and manages to come to agreements—despite having divergent views—because its members are aware of the importance of taking measures and acting decisively in areas regarding ecology, inclusion, tolerance, and diversity, with the understanding that their administration can only act towards the common good, basing their decisions on the principle of mutual care and support.

Participants: Aristide Antonas, Katayoun Arian, Assemble, Bartlebooth, Studio Céline Baumann, Clara Nubiola, Chloé Rutzerveld, Design Earth, Merve Bedir, Chong Suen & Sampson Wong, MAIO Architects, Traumnovelle and Canadian Centre for Architecture with Francesco Garutti.

→ Read the Twelve Cautionary Urban Tales publication

→ Watch the exhibition trailer

→ Read the review in El País by Anatxu Zabalbeascoa, 25/02/2020