Indepth Arts News: |
"Contemporary Projects 6: Los Carpinteros’s Transportable City"
2001-09-27 until 2002-01-13
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Los Angeles, CA,
The Los Angeles County Museum of Art—LACMA—brings
Los Carpinteros's Transportable City to the West Coast in the sixth installment of its
popular Contemporary Projects series. Los Carpinteros (the collaborative name of
Cuban artists Alexandre Arrechea, Marco Castillo, and Dagoberto Rodriguez) have
been working as a group since 1991 and have been known under their collective name
since 1994. The artists have received considerable attention for their work in Cuba and
across the globe. The scope of their art ranges from elaborate drawings and
sculptures to the early hand-tooled wood-works that inspired their name.
Transportable City is an installation of ten tents, made of nylon and aluminum tubing,
shaped in iconic architectural forms. The city is composed, like most cities, of
buildings that the artists believe convey the essence of modern life. These
buildings include a domed capitol, a Gothic-arched church, a lighthouse, a factory,
an apartment building, a hospital, a military outpost, a prison, a university, and a
warehouse. We wanted to create the basic shell of what a city should be, says artist
Dagoberto Rodríguez. Transportable City is about the basic minimum that a society
needs to function. The installation will reside on the LACMA Green, the area facing
Wilshire Boulevard between LACMA West and LACMA East.
Though the concept of building a completely portable city may seem uniquely Cuban,
reflective of a country where the architectural infrastructure is in dire need of
rehabilitation, Los Carpinteros view it from a more universal viewpoint. As people of all
nations are subject to natural disasters such as floods, earthquakes, or hurricanes,
and as others experience the need to migrate due to the onset of war, the concept of
the fully mobile community is truly a global phenomenon.
Underscoring the migratory, transient nature of contemporary urban existence,
Transportable City’s tents are specifically designed to be dismantled, packed up, and
transported just as ordinary camping tents would be. For the artists, this portability can
be a way to relieve nostalgia. As Marco Castillo says, When people leave their homes
they think about their city, the buildings they left behind…if you carry that [with you],
you don’t even have to think about it. The tents for the exhibition have already
traveled many miles; since their fabrication in Los Angeles, they have traveled to the
7th Havana Biennial, then were shipped to New York for exhibition at the P.S. 1
Contemporary Art Center before heading to LACMA for this exhibition.
The three artists met when they were students at Havana’s Instituto Superior de Arte.
They shared a desire to investigate what constituted a work of art. Their earliest
collaborative works typically were wooden objects created with the hand tools often
used by carpenters. Hence the name Los Carpinteros, says Castillo. The name
seemed perfect for us because we wanted to investigate issues of the way art is
made…To speak of a carpenter is to speak of the way something is made.
The concept of Transportable City first occurred to Los Carpinteros in 1997 when the
artists created two tent-buildings for an exhibition of contemporary Latin-American art
held in Mexico. These tents -- a church and a lighthouse -- were constructed of the
brightly colored nylon used to fabricate modern camping tents. Subsequently, the
artists chose to use neutral colors to more appropriately communicate the philosophy
of the work. For this exhibition, Transportable City is comprised of ten tents, but as
with real-life urban areas, the artists have not eliminated the possibility of expansion,
perhaps someday creating a Transportable Metropolis.
This exhibition is made possible by the Contemporary Projects Endowment Fund,
initiated in 1997 by supporters of LACMA’s Department of Modern and Contemporary
Art to underwrite an ongoing series of small, highly focused exhibitions of
cutting-edge art. The series supports the critical exploration of recent and newly
created work and contributes to the museum’s endeavors to reflect developments in
contemporary art locally, nationally, and internationally. Contemporary Projects 6: Los
Carpinteros’s Transportable City marks the West Coast debut of the artists’ work that
was first shown at the 7th Havana Biennial exhibition held in the winter of 2000–2001.