From The Art Newspaper, by Keith Miller, 13 September 2021
new book surveys the architecture of anarchist settlements
From geodesic domes in South Colorado to the Calais Jungle in Europe, this provocative work studies 60 structures that were built according to values of autonomy, voluntary association, mutual aid and self-organisation
Paul Dobraszczyk’s sprightly and somehow faintly optimistic book is framed by two depressing episodes. In August 2020 and June of this year, police raids took place to dismantle art installations in east London. The primary targets of these swingeing displays of state power—ballet dancers, singing model sharks, a delicate cloud of bamboo rods and steel cables—weren’t hurting anybody; the legal pretext for the raids, a mangled blend of planning regulations and emergency powers introduced under cover of the pandemic, was flimsy and unconvincing. The fact that the arts charity that commissioned the installations is also a co-publisher of Architecture and Anarchism lets us know that it’s unlikely to be unsympathetic to their side of the story; even so, it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that to build “without authority”, especially in an imperfect democracy such as the UK’s has become, is to court violence. So why would anyone do that?