Andrés Jaque Arquitectos are having a good moment. The MoMA has acquired their performance piece Ikea Disobedients to form part of the first exhibition curated by Pedro Gadanho, its new Curator for Contemporary Architecture, called 9+1 Ways of being political: 50 Years of Political Stances in Architecture and Urban Design. The performance of Ikea Disobedients was presented recently to accompany this exhibition at the MoMA PS1.
Changes must be afoot in the MoMA Architecture and Design Department for a work such as Ikea Disobedients to form part of its collection. Ariadna Cantis, curator of the event El Arte es Acción, was responsible for the project's first performance in November 2011 at the old La Tabacalera building in Madrid, under the name Performance & Arquitectura. It has now become the first piece of performance art to be acquired by the MoMA's Architecture and Design Department, with the requirement that it be adapted to be shown in New York.
The main thesis of Andrés Jaque Arquitectos and the Office for Political Innovation is that some kinds of domestic reality are defined by affective systems that do not reflect conventional family parameters, and that these may be starting to form a kind of dispersed domestic urbanism. These are households where, contrary to the slogan that the Swedish brand Ikea uses to define the perfect and hygienic home—"The independent republic of your home"—, the house has become a hybrid, semi-public space for making contact with the community, a place of friction and discussion. When asked about this a few days before the launch, Andrés Jaque said:
"For several years now I have thought about urbanism and the city, not so much from the perspective of stable manifestations of the urban, but rather through a detailed description of the chains of relationships within which the qualities we relate to the urban manifest themselves. I focus particularly on the way in which domestic interiors are inter-connected to create social fabrics within which diversity, politics, activism, comfort and collective wellbeing activities take place and are managed, and ideas turned on their heads."
What is the Ikea Disobedients performance all about? It brings to the stage research carried out in New York over the past four months, the aim of which has been to identify households whose domestic reality does not reflect conventional family patterns. Denish lives for a few months of the year in a friend's apartment and the rest of the year in a students' hall of residence, feeling at home whenever he plays the sarod in the park; Frank brought a cabin from the north of New York state and set it up in the garden of two female designer friends, looking after their garden instead of paying rent; Moody transformed the TV room of his house into a beauty salon, where people from the local neighbourhood get together, have their hair cut, look after each other's children and discuss politics; Rael is conducting research in his own house using aquaponics, a self-regulating food production system, renting out his house-laboratory for parties; Mama Gianna is the chef at one of the most famous restaurants in Queens, spending nearly all day there in the kitchen, which she views as her home, and where all the emotional ties of her life are founded. Lastly Greg, Donnie, Maja and Corentine have created a family of two couples, using their kitchen as a meeting place and a platform for developing a future LGBT library.
The performance is based around an installation in which Ikea furniture has been put together with a systematically failure to follow the assembly instructions. The resulting constructions create the setting for the protagonists, within which they perform a small sample of their usual home activities.
Although the performance dreamt up by Andrés Jaque may at first glance be understood as in some way turning these different domestic realities into a theatre work, the piece is transformed little by little, over the course of successive visits, into a venue for discussion, commentary, getting a haircut, listening to music or tasting some delicious meatballs. The viewer is no longer watching a "performed" theatre piece but becomes its protagonist. The performance that I saw at the PS1 was more like a place inside the museum for the project to be discussed than a performance in which we watched a spectacle put on by a third party. The idea of the urban and political spaces hidden within interiors kept coming back to mind. Unsurprisingly, when the performance started Andrés Jaque said: "I always worry about how this gets started, because architecture is always a performance." 
If the acquisition of a work such as Ikea Disobedients is a sign that change is taking place at the MoMA, this is partly because it opens the door to architecture being represented in unconventional formats. Ikea Disobedients works on many levels: It is a four-month research study that aims to successfully establish relationships of trust with a community, it is a collection of photographs taken in homes, it is a performance, it is a video, and lastly an action protocol should the research be repeated in another city. It is not a closed, finished work that has to be admired for its definition, but rather an open process of research that gives rise to representations in many other formats.
When asked about this, Andrés Jaque said that architects have a social duty to use the best operating format to ensure effectiveness, and that being effective requires discontinuity, dislocation, interruption. "The work of an architect is to render realities, to be someone who responds to reality, not producing conformities or peace of mind, but interrupting it, putting it in doubt, cutting it up so it can be studied and subjected to laboratory analysis."
At a time when architecture is suffering the hangover of the formalist debauchery of recent years, Andrés Jaque Arquitectos and his Office for Political Innovation not only direct our vision towards small and sometimes invisible urban processes, but also make us discuss opportunities and formats for action by architects, both outside and inside institutions. Carlos Mínguez Carrasco (@cmc)
1. I owe this quote to Ignacio González Galán, who was with Andrés Jaque at the beginning of the performance.
Andrés Jaque Arquitectos + Office for Political Innovation: Ikea Disobedients
Architects: Andrés Jaque Arquitectos + Office for Political Innovation
With the special collaboration of: Corentine Bohl, Gianna Bone-Teola, Moddy Harding, Donnie Jochum, Denish Kinariwala, Maja Leonardsen Musum, Rael Michael Clark, Greg Newton, Frank Traynor
Production: Ruggero Agnolutto, Roberto González García, Michal Just, Jorge López Conde, William Mondejar, Daia Stéeová, Claudia Suárez, Silvie Talackova, Javier Vidal
Sociological Investigation: Silvia Rodríguez
New York Research Director: Ana Peñalba
Voice: JM Pen