Harijs Alsins, last year at Dip5: Ministry of Pleasure

 

A dark maze for bodily pleasures, a place where an abundance of sexual activities and obscenities can take place...
But highly controlled and monitored.
This is the Ministry of Pleasure in Moscow, a public space publicized as a place of ultimate freedom and liberation – a take on Roman ‘bread and games’...
where underneath lies institutional control looking over everything.
Social context: first, Nashi, a political youth organization in Russia, controlled from top down; even including their sexual lives, with the government trying to increase their libido to make love for the declining population of motherland in heart-shaped camping grounds;
and second, Club Antichrist, a group of fetishists and swingers from London who could teach the former a few things; including the use of their spaces, being able to transform the most mundane venues into unpredictable mazes with sexual surprises around each corner.
The form and site of the building is in central Moscow, where one of eight skyscrapers proposed by Stalin was never completed; by taking the exact exterior design, a regime control icon is revived, and a parallel being made between the despot and the sometimes over-controlling current regime;
but the interior takes principles of operation of Club Antichrist a step further, pushing the typology of the maze to the edge by exploiting even its most basic geometrical principles in an extremely controlled way...
creating a complex three-dimensional maze which is impossible to control spatially, rather like the Catacombs of Rome, in turn highlighting the possibilities of bottom-up organization that such a space can facilitate – just like the catacombs did...
And by the very choice of maze as a spatial configuration strategy, highlighting the role of the arhitect in the endless game of a government’s control over population through architecture, and that very architecture facilitating the undermining of that control.
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