With(in): Three women, three communities, and mealtime rituals

This is a story about connection. The MIT Media Lab City Science group presents an immersive view into the worlds of three women in three settlements: Eva in Guadalajara, Mexico; Gihan in Cairo, Egypt; and MamaG in Port Harcourt, Nigeria. Through visual storytelling with projection mapping and city models we experience activities from the mundane to the surreal, from the deeply meaningful to the inconsequential. We visit the fringe neighbourhoods and community centers of Guadalajara, the vertical slums and bustling streets of Cairo, and the tiny homes and crowded markets of Port Harcourt. In the lives of each individual, we examine the micro and the macro, from the gentle care of fixing one’s hair each morning to the cultural swells of holidays, religious ceremonies, and funerals. In these places, far from our own, we learn and inquire, we gather and we listen, in the hope of better understanding the complexity of the world around us and new possibilities for how we will live together in the future.

As extreme urbanisation unfolds at an astounding pace, all three locations reflect the chaos and the importance of community. One woman’s journey can be both individual and global when viewed in the context of the others. We ask ourselves: how does rapid urbanisation impact the community we seek, and how do intimate domestic activities such as food preparation and celebration reflect a larger cultural context?

  • Gabriela Bila Advincula
  • Kent Larson
    Key Collaborators
  • Michael Uwemedimo
    Key Collaborators
  • MIT - Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    Key Collaborators
  • Project Type:
  • Runtime:
    17 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    January 1, 2021
  • Production Budget:
    30,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Language:
    Arabic, English, Spanish
  • Student Project:
    Yes - MIT - Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Venice Biennale Architettura
    May 22, 2021
    May 22nd
Director Biography - Gabriela Bila Advincula

Gabriela Bílá is a Brazilian multimedia architect and researcher on future cities based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She uses discussions over the contemporary city as the raw material of her work, combining new media and tangible interfaces to reimagine cities.

Gabriela is currently enrolled as a graduate researcher at the MIT Media Lab - City Science group. Her work inaugurates a line of research that explores the language of film and the physical space to create narratives of urbanity. Her Master's thesis is currently under exhibition at the Venice Architecture Biennale 2021. It's an immersive documentary installation that tells the story of three women living in three informal settlements around the world, using their cooking rituals as a lens to unveil their larger urban context.

Prior to joining MIT, Gabriela had extensive experience in creating installations for museums and events using technology tools for creating poetic moments. Her work would span from artistic interventions in the city architecture to exhibitions for science communication commissioned by the Brazilian Ministry of Science. Her first solo exhibition, Teleport City, is an utopian narrative about multiple side effects on society derived from a radical shift in the global mass means of transportation, being exhibited in various cities. She's also the author of the New Guide to Brasilia, selected by the Brazilian Historical Heritage Department as one of the essential books to understand preservation of Brazilian historical heritage sites. She has international work experience in the architecture practice OMA (Office for Metropolitan Architecture, Rotterdam).

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Director Statement

It’s said that once you eat someone’s food, you become part of them too. I am for sure a different person after the With(in) project. It started as my masters thesis proposal and turned into the biggest adventure of my life.

Is there a connection between the act of procuring food, preparing food and eating together, that can tell us something important about the community we live in? This initial research question led to a series of events and I am nothing but immensely grateful for the opportunity to have lived this work. Thanks to the local teams that trusted me and so kindly welcomed me into their communities. No effort was spared, and this work benefited greatly from the communal spirit they brought to it.