Bartlett School of Architecture graduate, Kibwe Tavares, has recently been gifted the prestigious RIBA Silver Medal Award. The requirements for winners of the award should be those who 'Promote excellence in the study of Architecture and to encourage Architectural debate worldwide'. Tavares's entry undoubtly does this on a variety of levels. His Architectural Animation piece buffers on the bridge between architectural imagery, intense storyline, contextual musicianary and social equality and brought together through the medium of animation.
The Brixton riots or 'Bloody Saturday' was a tense boiling pot of social inequality and oppression between The Metropolitan Police and the local African-Carribean community who felt, during a recession, that levels of deprevation and quality of life in the area was poor and generally unexceptable. Hundreds were injured and equally as many arrested, but this now seems so relevant, the similarities between the economy now and back in 1981 are almost equal and arguably worse.
However I feel that Kibwe Tavares is trying to get across the differences between the recession now and then and the riots associated with both eras. In 1981 the riots consisted of mainly young black men who felt helpless and unhelped from the government in power. It was about rich white men oppressing the young poor black men. The significant difference between then and now is that this recession is hitting people regardless of race or class and is on a global scale that nobody has really seen before.
The importance of the African Carribean community being depicted as 'robots' is because robots are programmed to obey and take orders. They have no human organs or qualities and therefore deemed to have no emotion or feelings of inequality. This semi-otically represents how society saw this community, as inferior and not worthy, and this animation takes us on that journey.
The animation, produced by Tavares's animation company Factory Fifteen, follows the story of a fresh faced robot going about his daily life through the bustling market place of Brixton, co-existing with 'humans'. The robot then finds himself in a factory that has the feeling of a workhouse to it, where fellow robots all meet and partake in recreational drugs to take them away from the mundane reality of Brixton to a more wonderous place.
From drug induced architectural creations the protagonist is slowly transported back into the heat of a fierce street battle. Police clad robots in heavy riot gear pacing through the streets in an aggresive way, diving in on rebellious robots who dare to wreak havoc on the streets of London. A slow motioned battle commences that ends in our robot friend spread out on the floor, bruised and battered. Eyes twitching and then closing. Fading out to a black screen, we are left to pondor this 'person's' fate. An appropiate quote by Karl Marx is gently faded in; "History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce".
This message reiterates the farce and lack of depth behind the Summer 2011 riots. Rioting for wealth and stealing of property instead of for your rights will never be understood or listened to. The understanding and depth that Kibwe Tavares has approached this subject, the inclusion of Architecture, History, Politics and Animation makes him a worthy winner and a role model for students who practice creative thinking for a purpose.