CHARAS, The Improbable Dome Builders, by Syeus Mottel
Introduction written by R. Buckminster Fuller.
Includes a new interview between Michael Ben-Eli & Ben Estes.
CHARAS, The Improbable Dome Builders is Syeus Mottel's documentation of a community in New York's Lower East Side in the early 1970s, and their desire to build a geodesic dome in a reclaimed vacant lot underneath the Manhattan Bridge.
Among the city's struggling street life and systemic racism, Carlos “Chino” Garcia and Angelo Gonzalez, Jr., two friends that had been involved in gang life from an early age, are at the center of the group called CHARAS.
Influenced by R. Buckminster Fuller's teachings, and personally mentored by Fuller's assistant, Michael Ben-Eli, the young men of CHARAS began a period of devoted study of solid geometry, spherical trigonometry, and the principles of dome building. Following this period, CHARAS developed a program that encouraged community autonomy and the reclaiming of public space.
More than simply a documentation of the project, the book offers stories, interviews with each CHARAS member, over 200 photographs, and a record of the group’s process, from their intensive study to the obstacles they faced while physically constructing domes. Several of the other men who would join CHARAS were also ex gang leaders or members, and had been moved in and out of the prison system while watching friends and loved ones succumb to drugs, poverty and violence. Touching on a range of topics still very relevant today, including affordable housing, community autonomy, education and rehabilitation, “This book is dedicated to everything that is.”
First published by Drake Publishers in 1973, The Song Cave is very excited to co-publish this new edition with Pioneer Works.
Syeus Mottel was a photographer, theater director and producer, and was the exclusive photographer of Lee Strasberg's Actor's Studio as well as Media Consultant to R. Buckminster Fuller. He passed away in 2014.
500 copies of this book are being donated to The Distribution to Underserved Communities Library Program (D.U.C.), who distributes books on contemporary art and culture free of charge to rural and inner-city public libraries, schools, prisons, and alternative education centers nationwide. More information about their program can be found here.