(Re)routing and (Re)rooting in Urban Exile: Exploring Villa Ocampo in Buenos Aires and Jassim House in Bombay with Actor-Network-Theory, in: Urban Exile: Theories, Methods, Research Practices
In the first half of the 20th century two private homes in Buenos Aires and Bombay became the nodding point for creative exchanges between local and exiled artists. The Villa of Victoria Ocampo – writer, founder of Sur magazine and key figure in the art scene of Buenos Aires – was a space of encounters between Argentine writers such as José Luis Borges with emigré artists like the Spanish poet Rafael Alberti. The Villa was architecturally a mix of vernacular elements with European style features. Equally cooperative in spirit was the cultural circle around the Jassim House in Bombay. The three Asian co-founders of MARG magazine Mulk Raj Anand, Anil and Minnette de Silva were sewed into a diverse exile network here. Together with the Austrian artist couple Käthe and Walter Langhammer as well as the Indian art collector Homi Bhaba, they fostered a unique discourse on art and architecture. Both built environments resemble social openness and permeability. Based on historic text and photographic material the paper analyses the human and non-human relations of these contact zones. Deploying Actor-Network-Theory it asks, which spatial, aesthetic, and personal factors constitute the “agency” (Latour 2010) of these social infrastructures in two metropolises shaped by emigration. In conclusion, the paper outlines the conditions for transcultural exchange in urban exile.