86529 : Hedda Gabler

“My intention in giving it this name was to indicate that Hedda as a personality is to be regarded rather as her father’s daughter than her husband’s wife”. This quote, from Henrik Ibsen, refers to the surname of the main character: Hedda Gabler, as the title of this play. Gabler is the surname of her father, and not of her husband. This statement is a clear manifestation of how the role of women has historically been relegated to its hierarchical relation to men. The fact that a woman needs to be regarded as either the daughter of her father or as the wife of her husband is an anachronism, and a starting point for the social enquiry and political dissent that this studio will pursue. As gender philosophers claim today, gender roles are not a matter of universal biological factors, but a social construction based upon relations of power.

Hedda Gabler represents the clearest act of contradiction, discomfort and dissent towards the conventions of the life she feels trapped in. She has chosen her husband, but she doesn’t love him. She has chosen the luxurious house in which she lives, but the house only represents a jail for her. From the living room of her house, the only space in which the action takes place, she will manipulate everyone to destroy their life, only to end up destroying hers.

Who would be Hedda Gabler nowadays? What would be the social conventions she feels trapped by? What are the physical and virtual spaces upon which she would construct her social relations? What would be her architectural prison? Who would be Hedda in the era of digital identities of the society of spectacle? Those are the questions that we will interrogate in order to challenge the original text from 1891.

IKEA represents the clearest example of the contemporary transformation of domesticity into a standardized commodity through which identity can be flexibly constructed. In the time of globalization and flexible accumulation, IKEA represents not only a physical space, but also a digital one. The identity of the conventional perfect family is constantly portrayed in the virtual catalogues of IKEA, as well as in stores all over the world. Several designers have contested this reality by performing alternative forms of spatial identity by hacking or subverting IKEA products and logics. We will critically interrogate, survey and depict IKEA as a paradigmatic example of the performative domestic space of the 21st century.

After this process of survey and query, the physical and digital identities of Hedda will be speculatively re-constructed through her relation to space, objects, technologies and society. The tensions between standardization and individualism (the same conflicts in Hedda’s misfortune) will be spatially explored for the development of a Theatre Set Design. Students will be encouraged to challenge the limits of the domestic spatial conventions in the era of social media and sexual ambiguity.

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