The Common Accounts project has an open pavilion located outside the Academy of Spain in Rome, which puts the ritual capacity of body images in the foreground and plays with the way in which emerging funeral practices understand muscle as archive. “Refresh, Renew”, a funerary catafalque for the digital era.
installation by Common Accounts
Accademia di Spagna
Piazza di S. Pietro in Montorio, 3, 00153 Roma
Igor Bragado, a fellow of the Royal Academy of Spain in Rome and co-director of the architecture office Common Accounts, inaugurated the work “Refresh, Renew” on June 20, 2019 as part of his project Il lutto del tuo archivio (the mourning of your file), developed in Rome.
In the Plaza de San Pietro in Montorio, the main entrance of the Academy of Spain, Igor has installed a funerary catafalque for the digital age. “The Refresh, Renew project proposes a rearticulation of the current funerary constructions so that they operate simultaneously in the urban sphere and in the social networks”, says the architect. “This pavilion puts the ritual capacity of digital memory in the foreground”. Igor continues with his research started three years ago together with Miles Gertler at Princeton University in the United States on the subject of death from a day-to-day perspective.
“The cemetery and the mausoleum are no longer the exclusive spaces for the funeral”, says Igor; “The arrival of social networks a little over a decade ago has altered the social sphere of the funerary rite, multiplying the spaces through which the ceremony navigates. This demands a transformation of the current ceremonial protocols, requires the incorporation of new technologies, and requires a redesign of the commemorative spaces that include lives lived online”, adds Miles Gertler, co-director in the Common Accounts office. The pavilion built in Rome includes space technologies such as the gymnasium or server farms. According to the architect, the gym is one of the current architectural spaces in which a digital file is more clearly constructed. “Recent cases of online funeral memorialization through the practice of fitness have brought to the surface a relationship (that between the cult of the body and the projects of eternalization) and historically extensive. A long series of cases that range from the practice of athletics at Etruscan funerals to the development of contemporary fitness by and for North American military culture attest to the relationship between death and exercise”, says the architect.
In this context, one of Facebook’s first significant encounters with death (prompted by a fitness teacher claiming access to the digital file of his dead son) shows precisely the displacement of the mourning space to areas such as the comments section of the networks social, but also the gym, and muscle.
For the prototype built in Rome, Igor has collaborated with the New Yorker Rennie Jones, in charge of a performance, and with the Madrid-born designer Armiche Rodriguez, who has made a series of “funerary athleisure” garments.