Miniatura Studio-X , 2013

MINIATURA: Studio-X Rio de Janeiro
Columbia University • GSAPP
Rio de Janeiro, Brasil

MINIATURA was a collaborative project between Bruna Canepa and Ciro Miguel from 2011 to 2015.

Exhibition text by Vanessa Grossman

“A prisoner paints a landscape on the wall of his cell showing a miniature train entering
a tunnel. When his jailers come to get him, he asks them “politely to wait a moment, to allow me to verify something in the little train in my picture. As usual, they started to laugh, because they considered me to be weak-minded. I made myself very tiny, entered into
my picture and climbed into the little train, which started moving, then disappeared into the darkness of the tunnel. For a few seconds longer, a bit of flaky smoke could be seen coming out of the darkness of the round hole. Then this smoke blew away, and with it the picture, and with the picture, my person…” How many times poet-painters, in their prisons, have broken through walls, by way of a tunnel! How many times, as they painted their dreams, they have escaped through a crack in the wall! …If need be, mere absurdity can be a source of freedom.
Gaston Bachelard, “The miniature” in Poetics of Space

Is it the city that is out of scale, deformed, and temporally displaced, or the site, the building, both? The operations and strategies put forward by Miniatura come from the clash between the incongruence of the material landscape and architectural culture of the metropolis—which in São Paulo has reached the status of aberration—and the prominence of the exorbitant American natural landscape conditioning urban scenarios like Rio de Janeiro and Santiago. Architects could only wish they had imagined the different scales, forms, geologic formations, and temporalities that coexist in such setups.

If the incongruence of their built environment is formally, temporally and spatially decontextualized in Miniatura’s drawings, collages and models, the question of form,
scale and time is again complicated when these buildings are reinserted in the different landscapes of its photographs. By isolating and re-contextualizing, Miniatura transfers
and tests proceedings to the extreme: superimposing, narrowing, encrusting, sectioning, stratifying, turning, displacing, illuminating, walling, flooding. However, the images presented do not always consist of photomontages.
But what is real? What has been imagined?
Like in All Fires the Fire, in which every “figure” proposed by the Argentinian writer Julio Cortazár relates to each other in different spaces and temporalities – Cuba, Paris, Buenos Aires, a Greek island, Ancient Rome, Beirut – from which they can exit and enter, Miniatura searches analogous relations not in fiction but in the incongruous reality, reminding us
that the latter often surpasses the architect’s imagination. No need to paint the dream
and escape through a crack in the wall, as in the miniaturized world evoked by Bachelard: the sheer absurdity of the streets is still the largest source of freedom for the voluntary prisoners of architecture.”