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Part of the series #matteroffuck

Meanwhile as Purgatory

September 14, 2016

(From Barcelona, 4 months after returning from the Idomeni refugee camp in Greece; 12 months after Spain announced it would take in 17,680 refugees and two months after the country had welcomed only 270. Rising, I see the counter tallying the deaths in the “Mediterranean affair” set up on the beach in the Barceloneta.)

We live in a “MacroSoft Excel(lent)” territory that moves at a quantitative rhythm, “a little higher, higher, higher…a little lower, lower, lower!” which lets us participate in super sexy activities that help us cleanse our souls through gentle displacement and numeric movements of impure matter: charities starting at a dollar ninety-nine, thirty (plus) TV channels with blinding information, two-for-one offers on environmental abuses, etc.


But all that is sexy melts into air, when the movement endangers comfort, which has a bearing on: don’t touch me/my stuff.


“The day they touch one of my men, the rule of law is over.”

Pinochet (the passion killer).


It’s time to get out the PlayStation controllers to beat levels, moving matter from one place to another without touching anything, at a distance, while “for your own safety, do not to leave your baggage unattended at any time”.


LEVEL 3: Bombs fall on the social structures gathered in cities, scattering residents into the adventure of a dispersed survival.


(new screen). What better destination than the “Top Ten” cities listed on Mercer consulting’s ranking for “best quality of life”?


LEVEL 4: The “refugees” gravitate toward the comfort zones, activating the alarms that announce destabilization of the rule of law.


(new screen). The natural gravitational flows become aggravating political condensations.


LEVEL 5: The borders are closed. The control commands usher the “refugees” toward areas of “personal and specific comfort”:

military-run camps with soundproofing so they can rest after their long trip, quiet surroundings through the use of a public address system, where time passes without you realizing it, sun protection from ceilings with no skylights, doors that are locked from the inside and controlled remotely, transparent and flexible territorial structures through the use of metallic mesh that catches everything, common areas to spread panic, and shared sleeping areas to promote interaction and create a sense of community.


(new screen). A better space for everyone, based on each individual’s needs.

“Refugees” as defenseless and “Europeans” with colonial aspirations who spend their lives “taking refuge”.


LEVEL 6: I turn off the PlayStation. I’m tired of playing, putting together the puzzle pieces and recording my voice, commenting on the game, to upload it to the public space of YouTube.

[ yo ‘tu βe ].

I’m going to watch the movie on another screen.


(new screen and cut).


Whereas some – are displaced – risking their lives, others – displace – to purge their death, blackening their souls and cleansing their houses.


There are others who risk it all, drawing without making drawings. Moving to the next screen without accumulating quantitative data, but inheriting lines as qualitative strokes. A purgatory that is meant to save the souls of currently dead spaces, attacked by politics, culture and the economy, which deserve to be cleansed in an ascent to glory. A task rooted in architectural responsibility that doesn’t follow the building code, but the code of ethics.

MEANWHILE AS PURGATORY from Irma Arribas on Vimeo.

To cleanse by drawing, creating an emergence of meaning, an approach to the frequencies, a space for exploration, a state of connection, an erasure that makes something appear, building to tear down.


Drawing as communication, defending the rights of existences, revealing the architectural ability to create states, decrying violations in the forms of spatial relationships.


There are people who live in purgatory alive, helping to purge what they believe in.








Part of the series #matteroffuck

urbanNext (May 27, 2024) Meanwhile as Purgatory. Retrieved from
Meanwhile as Purgatory.” urbanNext – May 27, 2024,
urbanNext November 28, 2017 Meanwhile as Purgatory., viewed May 27, 2024,<>
urbanNext – Meanwhile as Purgatory. [Internet]. [Accessed May 27, 2024]. Available from:
Meanwhile as Purgatory.” urbanNext – Accessed May 27, 2024.
Meanwhile as Purgatory.” urbanNext [Online]. Available: [Accessed: May 27, 2024]

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