unstable markets

A person shouts and everyone pulls from the strings at once. The 2 m2 fabrics lying on the pavement, which function as selling display for the illegally copied DVDs on sale, turn into smart tools for immediate runaway without leaving the merchandise behind. Two seconds later, no trace of the street market remains, but the astonishment in pedestrians’ eyes.

The most exciting informal stalls in Madrid or Barcelona for spatial practice are however the toughest drama for nowadays-human existence, as González Iñárritu beautifully depicted in his last movie. Thus, their instability allows instantaneous flexibility to jurisdiction. Informal markets understood as politically contested spaces is the approach that Helge Mooshammer and Peter Mörtenböck use in their on-line Atlas titled Other Markets:

“Other Markets investigates their role in a continuous process of political ordering that draws on the power to decide on the exception to the normalised condition and its application to the transformation of national identities and sovereignties. At the heart of this restructuring are deterritorialised ethnic forms that have come to replace state government technology. These shifts have prompted the demand for new forms of governance that respond better to contemporary ‘regimes of living’ – the ongoing fragmentation of cultures and subjects and the multitude of spatially dispersed informal affiliations.“

Among the study cases compiled in their atlas, Soranart Sinuraibhan studies Rom Hoob Market, 72km away from Bangkok, Thailand. This everyday architectural invention is a direct translation of flows of people along the railway tracks. In a congested urban territory, buffer zones are reclaimed to meet the most basic needs of interchange. The hazardous condition of the site seems to be obviated by means of very low baskets that can remain by the tracks and avoid train wheels damage. There is simply no need to move them. For bigger items, sellers have come up with self-built stalls on wheels.

The train whistles and everyone gets ready to save their goods.

“By examining the exercise and development of citizenship arrangements in and around informal market places, Other Markets traces the current shift from a ‘citizenship of borders and confines’ to diverse forms of ‘latitudinal citizenship’ associated with the exertion of lateral influence across social and political domains.”

[1> street DVD seller Spain via emdw007][2> Train approaching Rom Hoob Market, Soranart Sinuraibhan]


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