‘Daoyin technique to rectify blood stasis’ from a nineteenth century Chinese manuscript. Image courtesy of the Wellcome Library, London

Stasis, Charging the Space of Change by Sarah Rivière (2017)

In this 2017 article, Sarah Riviere first proposes the concept of mild stasiology. Developing mild stasis as a useful contemporary tool to discuss spaces of dissenting exchange between kindred individuals, Riviere first sets out historical understandings of the state of mild stasis in ancient Greece and then presents an understanding that is relevant and applicable to today's global late modernist crisis.

Stasis, in its extreme state in ancient Greece, involved conflictual hostilities between kindred parties; this violent extreme - often termed ‘civil war’ today - has been discussed by Agamben and Arendt. In this article Riviere's takes a different stance towards stasis by concentrating specifically on mild stasis and working carefully to define the generative nuances of this milder form, showing its relevance to the design of richer and more vibrant social space today: spaces where difference is supported, common goals are reinforced, and violence is excluded.

Through a series of readings of ancient Greek texts on topics ranging from pathology to literature and politics, mild stasis is revealed in this article as a powerfully charged state of located dynamic exchange that operates through a precise temporal and spatial performance. The article teases out relevant aspects of the state of mild stasisits high levels of spatial engagement, its inevitable resolution into energetic productivity, its precise restraint, its demand for full participation, and its role in the integration of change – all of which were acknowledged as part of the enactment and resolution of a mild stasis at that time. Here, by initiating and proposing the concept of mild stasis or mild stasiology, Riviere has developed a tool useful for social and political space within which violence against kindred human and non-human beings is inconceivable today and in the future.

In this article, Riviere describes the potential of the state of mild stasis in detail. She shows mild stasis to be generative for developing awareness of the kindred, enabling vital exchange that resists escalation into war. She links this to the potential of stasis to inform the processes and spatial design of social architecture, through enriching current concepts of the located and vibrant dynamic in architectural and urban discourse. This understanding of mild stasis also poses new questions for the future design of spaces that can accommodate charged kindred engagement: lively spaces where contest becomes opportunity, and located spaces of kindred understanding that promise productive reconciliation as the common aim of all the parties involved.

Mild stasis is, “an enabler, but one that also set out precise demands of relationship, moderation, and reconciliation, while holding the promise of new, energetic onward movement for all parties post-stasis” (Rivière, 2017: pp. 81–82).
Mild stasis, “through which a living system maintains the capacity to adjust itself to inevitable change" (Rivière 2017:91).
Mild stasis is "a state that demands full participation both for its proper resolution and so as to counteract the danger that a stasis shifts into the uncontrolled destruction of war" (Rivière 2017:91).

Download the full article here:

“Stasis, Charging the Space of Change” | Footprint #19 TU Delft

How to reference this article:
Rivière, S., "Stasis, Charging the Space of Change," in Shoshan, M.; Schoonderbeek, Mark. (Eds): Footprint #19: Spaces of Conflict (Jap Sam Books, 2017)



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A still from the film "Stasis at 835 Kings Road" by Sarah Riviere, 2023

Sarah Riviere has further developed the concept of mild stasis that she first set out in this article through teaching, film and texts. For example, Riviere applies mild stasis to the failure of the cooperative enterprise for cooperative dwelling initiated in 1921 by Rudolf Schindler, Pauline Gibling, Marian Chace and Clyde Chace at 835 Kings Road, Los Angeles.
Riviere's stop motion animated film on Stasis at 835 Kings Road can be viewed here.

Riviere also applies mild stasis to the processes of architectural design in the Dream - Play - Challenge Project. The first publication from the Dream - Play - Challenge Project can be accessed online here.

Sarah Riviere's teaching practice applies mild stasis in the classroom. View the Survival Lounge publication describing the process of this seminar here.