Constructing Absence is an installation at the Nasjonalmuseet Arkitektur for the 2019 Oslo Architecture Triennale titled ‘Enough: The Architecture of Degrowth’. The project was developed with Jesse McCormick while in residence at Fundación Cerezales Antonino y Cinia.
The 2008 financial crisis made visible the flaws of a society based on an infinite growth economy, as seen by the ghost-towns of foreclosed homes in the Spanish landscape. In Spain, the crisis is referred to as ‘el ladrillo’ or ‘the brick’. This conflation of language speaks to the agency of materials in an economy built on real-estate speculation as the engine of infinite growth.
Cooked, durable, and mass produced, the brick’s value lies in its standardization. However, the brick's ancestor—adobe—is its antithesis. Adobe is uncooked, brittle if not cared for, labor intensive and location specific. Adobe resists the ubiquity that makes modern brick perfect for speculation, and in comparison is emphatically un-speculative. Adoberas are molds used to cast adobe into usable blocks. Adoberas collected in Spain are arranged chronologically in the order they were made, from 1820 to 2019. These tools show that though the technology has not changed, variations in size, shape, handle, and joinery demonstrate that it was never uniform.