XS began at Yale School of Architecture as the Why Erect Boundaries? (WEB) Project in April 2012. It culminated in an exhibition in four abandoned New Haven storefronts in April 2013. It was part of my thesis project, but really it was much more.
The twenty people involved put heart, sweat, and that most precious grad-school commodity—time—into an untested idea. They reaped both the happiness and the horror of testing it out.
The heart of our project was the relationship between the author and creative idea. We challenged the 1-to-1 model passed down to us by our modernist forefathers, seeking to push the boundaries of collaboration as we knew it. The edges of XS were always vague, but just because we had no circumference did not mean we had no center. We delighted in our monster-status: a schizophrenic, kaleidoscopic chameleon born in the bowels of the architecture school at Yale.
Our exhibition opened in April after a year of hard work. Our explosion into the world was brief. We thought it was glorious. Three hours into the opening, the fire marshal declared our storefront spaces "unfit for assembly" and we were forced to shut it down. I lived in a numbness for three days after.
The lesson I came away with is this: it is impossible to make in a vacuum. Therefore, to make is to change. Making together is changing together. It is a collective action that is by nature projective, hopeful, subversive. Bringing noise and beauty into the world demands the resilience. It brings us closer to the fabric of cities that hold us and the communities that belong to them.
Thank you to the XS members for your work. Thanks to everyone who helped out along the way.