Towards a Global Village
Back in 1971, Lithuanian-born artist Aleksandra Kasuba imagined Global Village. Featuring a gym and a pool, but also a library, a theater and even a storey entirely dedicated to plants, the bubble shaped building was designed to accommodate students and stimulate social interactions and self-government.
While the spherical shape encouraged collaboration and participation, the whole concept behind Global Village actually went far beyond the form itself as it rested upon a strong participatory system - including the election of annual representatives and open forums - in which students/residents were asked to take an active part so that “most would grasp the value of cooperation, commitment, and tolerance”.
“The concept of the Global Village is rooted in my experience of the Second World War”, underlines Kasuba*, who was only 16 when the Soviet army invaded Lithuania in 1939. An invasion that was followed by many years of instability during which Lithuania ended up successively in the hands of the Nazis and the Soviets. Displaced as refugees from one United Nations camp to the other, Kasuba, her husband and their baby daughter finally arrived in New York in 1947, but it was only in the early 1950s that they discovered the horror of the Holocaust through archive footage.
Many years later, in 1971, as she followed the uprising of the Attica prisoners on TV - an event that “pulled the nightmarish war experiences back into focus” - Aleksandra Kasuba started organising her “onslaught of thoughts” which were to become the Global Village. “I had to build a model - to establish the basic structural elements and see the spaces that might provide that nebulous sense of freedom”, explains the artist. “The idea demanded scale, as I focused not on personal human relationships, but on how to integrate private and public spaces to keep a sense of freedom in places designed to deprive individuals of it - in a society where dehumanization was the punishment and intimidation the means to control the inmates.”
Strong of her project Live-in Environment - a 1:1 lightweight structure developed in 1971 in her New York apartment aimed at “abolishing 90 degree angles” - and “with Buckminster Fuller’s geodesic domes and communal living hot at the time, there was no lack of ideas to shape my vision”, emphasises Kasuba.
Image courtesy of Aleksandra Kasuba
*Quoted texts from email exchanges between The Offbeats and Aleksandra Kasuba in August 2017
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