2014 Inception Award | Helen Alexiadis

Cocoa Park by Helen Alexiadis from Moash University

This research project tackles the lack of awareness of the cocoa bean crisis and the disconnection between consumer and manufactured product. The consumer is brought into contact with particular issues embedded within the crisis through activist and temporary interventions.

Sited outside the Safeway supermarket, this project is comprised of two temporary interventions: a par- ticipatory outdoor chocolate factory and a roving bus. Through participation and agitation, narratives are being told and stories are performed.

This research project explores how stories and narratives can be engaged with through design activist strategies. The project proposes a range of interventions into different communities of Melbourne’s inner suburbs The project employs ideas of Russian Constructivism design and architecture. It looks in particular at the spatial communication devices that were deployed and their impact on the observer – the psycho-physiological aspects of object and machine – the “mechanization of life.”

“Organising man’s consciousness and provoking him into vigorous activity, acting on him like a dynamo that impels machine to movement”

Constructivist principles of agitation propaganda are explored and interpreted in order to engage and educate the general public. The reconsidered and re- design spatial devices used throughout the resulting interventions are based on historical stage devices, object based structures and AgitProp techniques.

Agitation is explored through activism. Through the act of ‘doing’ and the carnivalesque, the wider public plays a crucial role in the activist approach to communicate the key messages. In this way the project claims presence and power, and the traditional power structures involved in both the staging of consumer and manufacturer are challenged. By designing a spatial experience that stands between reality and speculation, instances of change are hinted to different communities and large supermarket chains.