Press Release 2013

—– Press Release 2013

Headquartered: 2721 North 5th Street, Philadelphia PA 19133
Duration: March 30 – July 19, 2013

Taller Puertorriqueño (Taller) is pleased to invite architectural researcher and urban planner Ariel Vázquez, and the COUNTER NARRATIVE SOCIETY (CNS), an artistic-research-activist unit, to create a social practice project for the Claiming Places exhibition cycle. Entitled CP Lab (Claiming Places Laboratory), this work is a creative and urban research project and investigation of the areas surrounding Taller. The team will present their work and engage with the public in the CP Lab, headquartered in the Vestíbulo exhibition space located at the entrance of Taller’s 2721 building. The researchers will work within specified areas of North Kensington as well as draw from other areas of Philadelphia as needed. Working independently, their studies will organically overlap, instigating dialogue between CNS creative research and Vazquez’s urban planning investigation. (Contact: lostlots [at]

Organizing small scale social events to reach to an understanding about the ways neighborhoods have been affected by the invisible punishing machine, (CNS’ “science-fictional” way of defining the society of control, the prison industrial complex and the insidious effect of mass incarceration on society) and documenting their anti-prison activism in analytical performative writing, photographs and other media; CNS is developing a two-part research project (Journey to Refuge) that explores “claiming one’s state of being and becoming.” Within the project they expect to touch on topics such as mechanisms of communications, patterns of societal organization, ideas of identities, trust and psychological architecture and environments. (website:

In his project, Lost Lots, Vázquez is researching ways that the “physical space of the city, its organization and quality… [are] mechanisms of integration.” He considers the open, public spaces- starting with the stoop, sidewalks and streets of the city- as places that both “reinforce and promote existing and new social agreements; where meetings between different people take place, where identities emerge, and where a sense of belonging is fostered.” Traditionally appreciated in terms of their functionality, physical comforts and aesthetic value, he sees buildings as an “urban fabric” that form “places of perception. Using topographical maps he created and conducting field surveys, interviews and workshops, Vázquez hopes to answer questions about the act of claiming place in the Latino community; How should we claim an area? What is our sense of belonging? He plans to distill the information gathered from his research into drawings and graphs which the public and he can use to determine the best forms of constructive interventions.
LOST LOTS: lostlots {at}

For the duration of the project, CNS and Vázquez will post monthly reports on the Claiming Places exhibition cycle website ( that will be consolidated into a full, documented, printed report. They will also independently record their progress and communicate directly with the public through this separate website,

3/30/2013 – Visual Art Program / Claiming Places exhibition cycle / CP-LAB

—– Contributors

Lead Artists, Researchers and Editors:

Ariel Vazquez
[Architecture Researcher and Urban Planner]
Lost Lots

VÁZQUEZ is a Dominican-born architectural researcher and urban planner from Philadelphia and founder of TRANSforma Studio. He received his bachelor of architecture from Drexel University and a post-graduate degree from the Netherlands’ Berlage Institute’s Advanced Architecture and Urbanism program. Vázquez has collaborated in many national and international projects, from work on marginalized communities in Argentina and Brazil, to projects in Haiti and Japan that examine natural disaster relief programs. His most recent project, Architecture [Natural?] Disaster, was in collaboration with Stuyvesant High School’s StuyResearch program for the City of Sendai, Japan, to develop a paradigmatic dialogue using architectural research as a tool to understand how architecture/urban planning can respond to natural disasters. Website:

Counter Narrative Society (CNS)
[Artistic Research and Activists Unit]
Journey to Refuge

The CNS a.k.a Mabel Negrete or rarely known as Abel Alfaro, are a Chilean born duo of artist-researchers and activists from San Francisco, California who graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a master of science in art, culture and technology. Founded in 2007 in the city of San Francisco, CNS initiates and researches counter narratives about bio-power, urbanism, culture and technology. Their recent projects, under the research concentration of the Invisible Punishing Machine have focused around the idea of transforming “The Weight I Carry with Me”. In their performances, multimedia installations, tactical objects and multifaceted projects, CNS uses a practice that they call Paradoxical Remedies to “playfully counteracts undesirable and traumatic conditions by creating sometimes difficult emotional, anomalous situations.” Currently they live in the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and are working on a series of projects with local anti-prison grass-root organizations to deal with the effects of mass incarceration and understand the historical institutions of social control that gave birth to modern ideas about freedom, justice, and penitence. Website:


Rafael Damast
Claiming Places exhibition cycle


—– Host

Taller Puertorriqueño

Visual Art Program / Claiming Places exhibition cycle
/ 2721 North 5th Street Philadelphia, PA 19133 Phone (215) 426-3311 Fax (215) 426-5682