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Farouk Agoro on ‘Act’


Farouk Agoro is an artist and architect based in Brixton, London. Farouk is interested in how all forms of art influence and inform our understanding and perception of space at large, whether individually or as communities. He acts as a design director for Nooma Studio.

Image credit: Music video by The Roots performing The Next Movement. © 1999 Geffen Records

The anticipation arose as time froze
I stared off the stage with my eyes closed and dove
Into the deep cosmos
Act Too, The Roots, Things Fall Apart [1999]

Thinking about this year’s theme and the conversations we had in collectively deciding on the title from the long list of suggestions put forward, ACT is open to varied interpretations and our hope is that it will inspire a cross section of people, communities, and disciplines.

For me this year’s theme ACT evokes performance. It also encompasses performance as sharing – whether that is ideas, expression, rituals, emotions or even frustration – as a way to connect us all.

I was recently revisiting Things Fall Apart, an album released by seminal hip hop band The Roots back in ‘99. The album is punctuated theatrically by acts – Act Won, Act Too, Act Fore – an interesting play on words resonating with the idea of looking at things differently, taking control and celebration.

Time froze during the pandemic and allowed us to look with a new lens and in ways in which we move forward in a hopefully more empathetic, justice-centred and sustainable manner. We have had to learn to be more aware of our ways and the space we inhabit; how we interact and react with each other within the city. The objective is to make our encounters more bountiful and to shed light on our collective human experience.

Through ACT, we are able to tell and share our own stories. What are the things we have embraced or had to let go? What are the enriching habits we have cultivated? What are our curiosities? What are the conversations and frustrations we’ve debated? How do we share these conversations we have been having within our immediate collectives, family, communities and cities at large?

So now, in 2022, the London Festival of Architecture has an excellent opportunity to provide space for creators and communities emerging from this communal hiatus with ACT as this year’s theme creating an exciting opportunity for multiple interpretations. As we re-engage in public and private interaction, it will be interesting to see how various practitioners can engage with the performative nature of what ACT could represent. After what has been a collective period of contemplation, now is the time to throw open the doors for communal acts of care, perhaps a celebratory spectacle or even new ideas to solve old problems using a variety of mediums.

Just like the Things Fall Apart album, a willingness to be bold, to be experimental, to re-build and to collaborate all while being true to your values can be the start of figuring things out and expressing the ideas that are important to you.

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