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May 19, 2009

FACADE

The Facade project is a concept to be formalized as an installation. The original idea was adapted (made site specific or, given that it uses local earth, specifically site) to the El Rito Campus. During 5 days we tried to achieve a perfectly spheric object made with straw and earth. There were many difficulties in attaining that goal, so the result may be considered a prototype for a future full scale piece composed of many spheres.

Find below an explanation of the concept and some images (all images and the above drawing by Alexis Elton):

Façade is intended to be an oversized broken strand of pearls made from earth and seed sprawling through the field near the observatory at Northern New Mexico College in El Rito, New Mexico.

This dry arid climate is far from where pearls are harvested. Encountering a series of large-scale pearls composed of organic materials in the desert challenges the symbolic meanings that society ascribes to these precious objects. Pearls are valued as jewelry — objects of value, beauty, and purity — and yet are also associated with decadence and excess.

Façade is an attempt to foster a dialogue between nature and culture, and the fictional, inflated value that we place upon beauty and permanence. By removing pearls from their ordinary context their relevance is put into question. Displaced, these naturally decomposing forms will become nothing more than a façade of what they once were, acknowledging that the cyclical force of nature renders everything obsolete. The conception of Façade derives in part from the seminal interventions in the land previously initiated by artists of the 1960s and 70s, including Robert Smithson, Agnes Denes, James Turell, and Walter de Maria to name a few.

The Façade pearls are made of mud and grass seed; they appear opalescent like a pearl. In agricultural terms, each pearl could also be known as a giant seed ball. Farmers typically use seed balls to distribute seeds, which are encased in a mixture of clay or compost, and are placed on the soil’s surface. As the mud ball decomposes the seeds find their way safely to the soil. This planting method has been used for centuries and is especially useful in dry and arid climates.

The seeds will produce grass, growing on, in, and around the remains of the decomposed pearl. The actual rate of decomposition of the pearls will vary depending on the heat, rain, and the interventions of small and large animals. It is a natural progression, earth to earth, or in this case, sea to earth. The pearls, from oysters that live in the sea, sprout grasses that will live in the high desert.





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