ADS3: Unwritten Constitution
Constitutions around the world are being rewritten. From Chile to Turkey, Sápmi to Uganda, there is a wave of attempted constitutional reforms, whether driven by an authoritarian urge to retain power, or with the democratic intent of distributing it to a more representative network of human and more-than-human constituents.
In the UK, faith in the 'unwritten' constitution, whose principles are distributed between both unwritten and written sources - archaic conventions, Acts of Parliament, embodied rituals, norms, court judgements and beliefs - has been eroded by the abuses of the current government. Whether defending against abuse, or advocating for social and environmental justice, constitutional questions surround us.
Gaps in written constitutions are often revealing. Like many European constitutions, the Danish constitution has a striking omission: there is not a single mention of the word ‘Nature’. While the constitution is translated into several European languages, the mother tongue of one country within the Kingdom of Denmark has simply been left out.
ADS3 has been exploring how a constitution can be embodied, contested, and rebuilt in spaces beyond the written legal text. Starting by choosing a specific constitution to work with, students have been looking at the gaps between the letter of the law and how it is lived out. They have explored what roles institutional critique, civil disobedience and drag might play in facing the urgencies of climate crisis, mass extinction, social exclusion and political mischief. And they have been developing spatial propositions that are crafted, humorous, performative - and inherently political.
(Ben Clement & Sebastian de la Cour)
Image: ‘Aurora Ex Machina’, by Thomas Mclucas, ADS3 2023. Re-drawing the Puutalo Oy mass housing system using a contemporary socially-adaptive algorithm.