Nov 19, 2011

Casting A Glance

"Not everybody sees the art in the same way,
only an artist viewing art
knows the ecstasy or dread,

this viewing takes place in time.

A great artist can make art
by simply casting a glance..."

Complexity and Transformation
The Cultural Landscape Foundation
November 18, 2011
I will listen to anyone who tries to articulate how the memories of their childhood landscape, influence the work they do today.  Charles Birnbaum, Founder and President of The Cultural Landscape Foundation asked all the participants at the Second Wave of Modernism conference to frame their remarks in a personal way.  Everyone stuck to the script.  From the Forest Cemetary in Stockholm to the industrial oil tanks of Newark, New Jersey to the desert of Yakima, Washington, each landscape architect articulated how their early versions of nature informed their future professional bias.

I found the most intriguing person at the conference, THE BAD GIRL of  landscape architecture:  Julie Bargmann, founder of D.I.R.T. studio.  The name of the her firm, tells a lot about what she is interested in.
Bargmann started off as a sculptor and her addiction to looking at the work of artists (Robert Irwin, Eve Hesse and Donald Judd) are keys to her working relationship to the landscape.   "I want to find the untitled in the landscape."  Her work is about not imposing form on the site, but finding the focus within a site.  Bargmann likes working with regenerative landscapes.  The industrial waste sites that populate America, are the places that speak to her.  For Bargmann many of these sites are archaeology.... making visible the crafts and industries that  once employed people and provided their livelihoods. This kind of work isn't for everyone.  "It's a messy experience."
Bargmann lost the competition for the High Line, which she mentioned without much difficulty.  Without saying much, you could understand how differently she would have approached the project.  It might have remained a place layered with history.

Using the rubble from demolition at the Urban Outfitters project in Philadelphia to create a hardscape and the curvilinear steel from  railroad track that once existed here. 

"These orphaned landscapes are our national parks.  They are the new urban frontier.  It's a wild landscape of a different kind."

I have been considering this question of wild landscapes, and how to make them visible; as I work in a place where the "soil" is construction fill, the landscape harmed by intervention of the building of the Triboro Bridge and general neglect over time.  Maybe, "a great artist can make art by simply casting a glance," but I am finding it a lot harder.