Marjetica Potrc's Art – Confirmed and Reaffirmed

Shanty Mega-structures

There is little doubt that there is a problem regarding the overcrowding, lack of sanitation, and disease-prone environment that prevails in the sprawling shanty slums throughout Lagos, Nigeria, Rio De Janiero, and elsewhere.

The standard solution involves evicting the inhabitants and demolishing the ad hoc dwellings that are cobbled together out of scraps and debris. Marjetica Potrc proposed a revolutionary alternative by retaining the positive social aspects of these ramshackle neighborhoods, while altering the infrastructure, thereby providing on-site improvements without disrupting the social fabric.

Another radical approach was documented in 2015 at the Shenzhen Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism as part of the Maker Maker exhibit. It was presented by Olalalekan Jeyifous who explains, "I am proposing a series of digital images of ad-hoc assemblages as urban “super-structures”. These “super-structures”, whether towering or sprawling, combine attributes of improvised settlements with the scale of imposing hi-end commercial developments in an attempt to amplify some of the inherently sustainable aspects of many “impoverished” communities existing throughout the world. The images focus on the organic expansion of these highly self-organized spaces into privileged real estate, while considering how these ramshackle infrastructures might reconcile environmental and socio-economic issues."

So in this instance the dispossessed are given prominence and visibility albeit through a somewhat Dystopian vision that speaks to the fact that these communities often suffer from a lack of appropriate sanitation, electricity, medical services, and modern communications.

Instead of critiquing or decrying the slums, Jeyifous adopts the ad hoc construction methods of shanty dwellers. But instead of producing a modest shack, he magnifies the proportions of the resulting structure so that it equals the size of the towering monuments of high-end real estate that is being envisioned by moguls who covet the land now occupied by slum dwellers. This might be called a ‘twist of fate’.

Thus, although their motives seem consistent, the outcomes intended by Potrc and jeyifous couldn’t be more different. This is apparent in the examples of their respective works: