Elii 118 · Ecovisionaries

Elii 118 · Ecovisionaries

Extinction, Disaster, Adaptation, Co-existence
Exhibition design for the ‘ECO-VISIONARIES: Art for a planet in emergency’ exhibition at the Matadero Madrid

ECO-VISIONARIES brings together the work of more than forty artists and architects who reflect on the urgency of the environmental crisis the planet is experiencing. Curated by Pedro Gadanho and Mariana Pestana, this is a living exhibition that is updated at each location by adding the works of new artists to the exhibition. On this occasion, it will be featured at the Matadero, Madrid’s centre for contemporary creation, under the subtitle ‘Art for a planet in emergency’, along with an exhibition called ‘Jardín Cyborg – Instituto Mutante de Narrativas Ambientales’ (Cyborg Garden – Mutant Institute of Environmental Narratives’). Together, both exhibitions feature am ensemble of works by contemporary artists that address climate change as a crucial challenge of our time.

As regards the expository conceptualization for Matadero Madrid, the project is based on the use of the remains found in Hall 16: ECO-VISIONARIES unfolds on the “ruins” of Amazonías (the previous exhibition that occupied this exhibition hall for months). Some of the pre-existing divisions are changed. Others are added so as to form isolated black boxes. A few lightweight elements sporadically rest on these divisions, enabling new open, ethereal spaces to house the new pieces. This defines a systematic geometry of walls and flooring by which to configure different types of spaces that can be adapted to the needs of each project by means of a simple set-up that takes advantage of the captive energy of the inherited remnants. Any ‘blank slate’ operation is therefore spurned: the project is a re-assembly, a material update that multiplies the possibilities of what had not yet been done, where pre-existence is taken as the disjointed memory of a valuable past, albeit without nostalgia.

ECO-VISIONARIES is structured around four main concerns: Extinction, Disaster, Co-existence and Adaptation, each of which brings together a constellation of works. The exhibition “spatializes” the four controversies in the room by marking out four zones, organized according to a chromatic code. As visitors wander through, they are encouraged to take an active role, to take a stance in relation to the four problems. The translucent materials create an image of screens hanging in the room, triggering a call to contemplate the works. On the way through, there is a “fusion of horizons” of the different pieces. Accordingly, the works are installed in an order manner, but at the same time, they are arranged to establish flowing relationships between them during the visit, thereby encouraging visitors to find links among the works; to move the questions from one work to another; tin short, to experience the blurry boundaries between the problems of Extinction, the threats of Disaster, the strategies for Co-existence and the challenges of Adaptation.

These four major issues are connected to a array of social and ecological environments, interacting with them in multiple ways. The tension between these four disputed elements triggers a number of exchanges: a flow of evidence, news, threats, ultimatums, suspicions, arguments, discussions, regulations, prescriptions, instructions, questions, queries, speculations, uncertainties, perceptions, precautions, reflections, traditions, rules, affections, effects… One could say that climate change is a complex of circulating, interconnected forces, a sort of circuit. The ECO-VISIONARIES exhibit is designed from light screens set amidst these flows, intercepting the circulation of information, capturing the most relevant controversies and opening spaces to reflect crosswise on the planetary emergency by means of this set of pieces of art.

The project itself teaks its own stance in relation to these debates. The design outlines a set of ecological materials, such as recycled and recyclable carpets, acoustic insulation made of 100% recyclable cotton fibre, sun-silicate paints, PEFC-certified wood, infinitely recyclable polyamide tulle, PVC-free vinyl, etc., that try to align the construction processes with the ecosystemic ones, inscribing this inner space with large-scale ecological programs.


Extinction, Disaster, Adaptation, Co-existence

1. Inhabiting the ruin. The blank slate is a useless tool. We need strategies to reinterpret the discontinuity of the past and rethink the future.

To multiply and edit memory, without nostalgia.

2. “Natural contracts”. Ecological materials inscribe construction processes in large-scale ecosystem processes. As Michel Serres would say, they are “natural contracts”.

Aesthetics is an inter-scalar battleground for ecosystemic debates.

3. Lightweight architecture. Light, removable architectures that create spaces to rehearse, reflect, question and speculate (on) our present.

Projects are re-assemblable material re-assemblies.

4. Spatialize problems. Architecture always (unfolds/is deployed) in controversial spaces.

Should spaces solve problems and/or spark discussions?

5. Stance vs. pedagogy. In the actual experience of the walk-through, visitors are invited to take an active role and take a stance on the problems of our time.

The paternalism of pedagogy is counteracted by the stimulation of critique.

6. Circuits of interactions. Climate change is a flow of evidence, ultimatums, arguments, regulations, prescriptions, speculations, uncertainties, perceptions…

Climate change is crosswise in nature and is declined in multiple ways.

7. Codes. A legible space that arranges a cosmos and stimulates perception.

Spaces interpretable from a legend, like a map.


Eco-visionaries is the shared name of an international exhibition co-organized by MAAT [Museum of Art and Architecture] of Lisbon, Bildmuseet of Umeå, HeK [House of Electronic Arts] of Basel and LABoral. Art and Industrial Creation Centre of Gijón in collaboration with the Royal Academy of Arts of London.

Design of the exhibition space: elii [oficina de arquitectura]
Architects: elii – Uriel Fogué + Eva Gil + Carlos Palacios
Contributors: elii – Lucía Fernández, Ana López, Raquel García, Marta Vaquero, Mónica Palfy, Juan Mateos, Natalia Matesanz.
Graphic design: Vendedores de Humo
Curators: Pedro Gadanho, Mariana Pestana y Matadero Madrid
Curator from Matadero Madrid: Ana Ara
Incorporation of artists into the curatorship: Ana Ara, elii [oficina de arquitectura] – Uriel Fogué, Eva Gil, Carlos Palacios
Documentation and assistance to the curator: Eva Gonzalo
Production: Matadero Madrid
Transport: Feltrero División Arte
Staging: Solart. Soluciones en Arte
Catering: Virginia Uriarte y Clara Bondía
Insurance: HISCOX S.A.
Developer: Matadero Madrid
Eco-visionary artists: Allora & Calzadilla / Nelly Ben Hayoun / Ursula Biemann y Paulo Tavares / Zheng Bo/ C+ In the Air / Carolina Caycedo / Emma Charles / Fernando Cremades / Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg / Darlene Farris-Labar / Paula Gaetano Adi / Tue Greenfort / Terike Haapoja / HeHe / Husos / Andrés Jaque / Kiluanji Kia Henda / Jakob Kudsk Steensen / Gabriel Ruiz Larrea / Pedro Neves Marques / Next Nature / Eva Papamargariti / SKREI/ Superflex / Jenna Sutela / Unknown Fields Division / Ana Vaz y Tristan Bera / Pinar Yoldas
Photography: Imagen Subliminal (Miguel de Guzmán + Rocío Romero)

Surface: 1021,49m2
Date: 13 June – 06 October 2019
Venue: Matadero Madrid


Architects: elii

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elii carries out its professional activity in the following fields: Infrastructures, Urban Development, Public Spaces, Individual and Collective housing, Offices and Work Centres, Industrial Buildings, Ephemeral Architecture and Design of Museum Exhibitions and collaboration with artists. Elii covers all stages of the project, from the design phase to project management, working both in the public and private sectors, in Spain and Abroad. Founded in 2006 and based in the centre of Madrid, its founding partners and current directors are the architects Uriel Fogué Herreros, Eva Gil Lopesino and Carlos Palacios Rodriguez, all of whom have previously worked in architectural firms of international renown. They currently combine their work at elii with teaching (in several Spanish universities of international renown) and editorial work (UHF magazine). Their work and articles have appeared in specialized publications and exhibitions, having obtained recognition and awards for outstanding performance, amongst which are the FAD Opinion Award (2005), or the awards received from the Official College of Architects of Madrid “a la Obra Bien Hecha”(2006), “a la Obra de los Arquitectos” (2011), and “COAM Award” (2013) or the JustMad Award to Emergent Creativity (2013). They have been amongst those selected to appear in the “Arquia Próxima” catalogue (also issued by the Official College of Architects of Madrid) in its 2006-207, 2008-2009, 2010-2011 issues, having been recognized in this last one as one of the 10 most relevant teams of young architects in the region. They have also taken part in the “Madrid 100% Arquitectura II” (2011), catalogue and Itinerant International Exhibition, where one of their works was considered one of the top 100 by the Official College of Architects of Madrid. They were also similarly distinguished in the XII Buenos Aires International Biennial Architecture Exhibition (2011), recently selected as one of the “100 architects of the year 2012” in the exhibition for the KIA Korean Institute of Architects and the UIA International Union of Architects in Seoul (2012) and as a part of the exhibition FreshLatino 2 (2013). Elii is a member of the “Creadores de Madrid” and “FreshMadrid” archives.