Book Review: Adaptive Actions

0E5M5888 Book Review: Adaptive Actions

Adaptive Actions is a collaborative project initiated in London in 2007 by Montreal based artist Jean-François Prost, gathering a series of micro-actions developed by artists and citizens around the world within an urban city context. The project is based on an open-call available to everyone online. When submitting, each collaborator becomes an ‘actor’ in a series of world-wide micro scenarios and interventions that document and reveal the different ways people adapt to the urban environment, be it improvised or completely planned. 

For Madrid Abierto 2010, Adaptive Actions set-up their temporary headquarters in Atocha station and invited the general public to take part in the project. On-site, the Adaptive Actions team gathered actions and actors and put together a publication that collects some of the most engaging scenarios. It also includes an interview with Brian Massumi by Marie-Pier Boucher and Jean-François Prost and essays on the urban dérive and reflections on particular actions of interest.

0E5M5900 Book Review: Adaptive Actions

Freephone, actors Micha Cárdenas, Elle Mehrmtand and Chris Head
One that is particularly interesting to examine is Freephone by actors Micha Cárdenas, Elle Mehrmand and Chris Head, which touches on the subject of immigration and access to communication. For this ‘micropolitical’ action, the actors created a free phone that would provide newly deported people from the US with a free online phone service to call their family members. The actors set up a phone outside the Lui Velazquez gallery in Tijuana, located a few feet from where the deportees are dropped off by the US border patrol. On May 30th, the actors spoke with people on the street and carried signs that directed possible deportees to the free phone. Once the performance developed, the actors realized the dire need for these phone calls. The action lasted only one day, as the participants realized that Skype’s ‘call anywhere for $19.95′ does not apply to Mexico. Regardless, this action revealed the need for the democratization of communication and freedom of movement.

But these Actions aren’t solely destined to be artistic manifestations. Such is the action created by the Familia Melgar-Molinero and Felix Moreno and acted by Gemeralds, where a bridge was constructed to allow the family access to their land plots, an action that would have taken the corresponding authorities months to realize through bureaucratic red tape. Documented online and through these publications, these individual actions reveal more complex social and political problematics. But most importantly, the project brings into attention the idea of artist as initiator and collaborator; an action in itself that reveals a shift from individual creations to collaborative environments.

-Carla Acevedo Yates

0E5M5898 Book Review: Adaptive Actions

Images by DaWire

Adaptive Actions is now available in several bookstores including CCA (Canadian Centre for Architecture) in Montréal and YCN in London and at Reina Sofia in Madrid. You can also order copies online.

To submit your own Adaptive Action:

For instructions on creating your own free phone:

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One Comment on “Book Review: Adaptive Actions”

  1. micha Says:

    correction! the artists involved in the freephone were Elle Mehrmand, Micha Cardenas and Chris Head. Elle’s name is spelled wrong in the printing.


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