There is a time in every artist’s life that, for their art, they must go so far that they risk falling right off the map. We have developed a unique residency for Despacio that begins with an incredible two-day journey on foot through the dense Costa Rican jungle to bring you to one of the world’s most isolated indigenous tribes, the Cabécars of Alto Telire. Once there, you’ll engage with a local community totally disconnected from the world of contemporary art.
Experience a place that has been inhabited for centuries but rarely appears on a map.
If we want to establish new paths in the field of art, it is essential that artists seek inspiration in places far away from the old, ingrained patterns of thinking. It is only by questioning and rethinking established rules that artists have achieved innovation throughout history and have led us to where we are now.
Like many of the world’s most secluded places, contemporary art has no meaning in Alto Telire. There is no place for art as the rest of the world knows it in the everyday life of the Cabécars, nor is there a word for it in the local language.
Apply here for the residency to discover a world beyond the map of contemporary art. The residency takes 6-14 days, depending on the availability of local guides.
The next open application period for the residency begins August 1, 2016 and closes September 1, 2016 for residencies in late 2016 and early 2017.
What the residency includes:
Please note that you may be asked to carry a certain amount of food or medicine for the community you are visiting.All images above by Alberto Font.
Thoughts about this project appear, change, and disappear constantly. Here is a snapshot of our most recent thoughts:
WHAT ARE THE DISAPPEARING MUSEUMS?
A study in architecture, ephemerality, and locality, the Disappearing Museums project examines environments, both built and natural, through art. Essentially life-sized “drafts” of select buildings, the Disappearing Museums themselves are realized in three dimensions and unexpectedly installed in the remote Icelandic desert. These sculptural blueprints are composed of salt core, a biodegradable material that naturally dissolves when exposed to rain, and as a result, the project aims to decontextualize and re-evaluate architecture as we traditionally know and understand it. In other words, the Disappearing Museums, which are fleeting and displaced, contrast with the sturdy, integrated, and permanent structures of contemporary society. The viewer is thus asked to reflect on the importance of architecture in daily life, as well as to consider ingrained expectations for--and dependence on--such buildings and their surroundings.
Although the project touches on a number of themes, a key characteristic of the Disappearing Museums is their focus on the intrinsically ephemeral, even sculpture-like, nature of infrastructure. Guaranteed to degrade, the drafts demonstrate, albeit in sped-up fashion, the inevitable decline and eventual deterioration of the constructed environment. In this way, evolution and the passage of time are brought to the forefront; the Disappearing Museums poetically point not only to the momentariness of humanity but also to the longevity of nature.
The Disappearing Museums’ unlikely installation in the desolate wilderness of Iceland is also central to the project. An extreme contrast to the buildings’ likely urban environments, this desert locale pointedly draws attention to all that is absent, most notably: communities, infrastructure, and other buildings. The absence of these things at the installation site is further amplified by the presence of the viewer, who, having traveled to this secluded location, also finds him or herself profoundly displaced.
WHY TEMPORARY BUILDINGS?
"The ideal building has three elements; it is sturdy, useful, and beautiful."
In his paramount work, De architectura, the Roman architect Vitruvius identifies durability – or sturdiness – as one of the three key elements that define an ideal building. The Disappearing Museums project explores the longstanding human impulse to realize indestructible structures, and it explicitly subverts this very ideal. The promised decline of the three-dimensional designs upon interaction with weather is central to the project’s conception.
Here, the inevitability of atrophy is prized rather than evaded, offering fresh perspective not only on the objectives of architecture but also on its innate nature. Likewise, as the salt core degrades, the structures function symbolically, pointing to the ephemerality of human life. In these ways and more, the Disappearing Museums project attempts to demonstrate the oft-overlooked significance of the incomplete and the transitory.
WHY NON-FUNCTIONAL ARCHITECTURE?
"Architecture shares the narrative qualities of sculpture at an essential level; both transform the relationship between object and ground into a poetic expression."
Thom Mayne, founder of Morphosis Architects
A dual responsibility to both functionality and aesthetics is indeed at the heart of an architect’s practice. To further explore these qualities, and in particular the artistic elements of a building, the Disappearing Museums project renders given structures non-functional and essentially sculptural. Uninhabitable and incomplete, the Disappearing Museums are in no way utilitarian and are thus aligned more closely to our understanding of the arts than to design, technology, or science.
By thus converting architecture into art, the Disappearing Museums project explores the potential of buildings, structures, and social interaction in a context free of limitations, rules, and common thought patterns. In this unique environment, which might be considered something approaching a utopia, creativity is fostered, enlightened perspectives adapted, and critical discourse encouraged.
WHY EXTENDING THE BLUEPRINTS?
Through the means of an art installation, the Disappearing Museums project offers a new, experimental, and sensory space for designing. The limitlessness of the vast Icelandic desert imposes little restrictions, and traditional pen-to-paper blueprints or scaled-down models are, in the context of the Disappearing Museums project, traded in for more experiential and lifelike renderings.
Translated into three dimensions, yet not fully realized, these building plans are arguably more complete versions of their two-dimensional iterations, as well as more accessible to “readers” of all backgrounds. At the same time, their incomplete states continue to foster creativity, imagination, and ideas.
Neither material nor intangible, neither shapeless nor fully formed, the architect’s draft lies somewhere between a building and the idea of one. By realizing a series of blueprints in salt core, the Disappearing Museums project allows such drafts to briefly occupy a fragment of time and space.
The Disappearing Museums project functions as commentary on the history of museums and their various incarnations in the 21st century. Museums today largely sustain centuries-old values relating to the care, preservation, presentation, and interpretation of cultural artifacts and collections.
In the context of the Disappearing Museums, however, these fundamental responsibilities are released, rendering the time-honored notion of a museum essentially obsolete. Popular conceptions of a museum are also undercut by the structures’ extreme ephemerality, isolation, and weightlessness. All of this is to demonstrate – and ultimately question – the rigid, arguably anachronistic definition of a museum that continues to be accepted by contemporary society.
WHY IN ICELAND?
The Disappearing Museums project is specifically conceived as an installation for the uninhabited landscape of Iceland. In part a nod to Iceland’s rich architectural history, the project demonstrates a deep respect for the nation’s tradition of harmonious relationships between nature and the built environment (the development of grass-and-turf-covered houses comes to mind, for instance). Moreover, the project embraces the unpredictability of the Icelandic weather and the element of chance it introduces into the works’ atrophy.
On a more social and political level, the appearance--and disappearance--of the salt core installations in unspoiled nature demonstrates a harmless approach to building, a particularly striking action against today’s backdrop of global overdevelopment.Thoughts by Sandino Scheidegger & Lindsey Cash
Who knows when it will finally take place? Good things take time, and we are in no hurry.
Originally, the artists conceived of installations, performances, and interventions to be staged at the Kunsthalle Tropical in the Icelandic desert. It was their intent that the works be executed without an audience.
When the curator and artists realized that they themselves would in fact constitute an audience, the group decided to abandoned plans of journeying to the barren place.
Instead, they stayed in the fishing village of Husavik, where they reworked their plans and settled on a new, oral—and aerial—exhibition format.
The following libraries have already been included in the program:
THE TOTALITY OF TRUE PROPOSITIONS (BEFORE) Julien Prévieux, France
Julien Prévieux’s library takes the audience on a trip through time. His locally-sourced collection of books brings together publications, manuals, and handbooks filled with concepts and ideas that did not survive the inexorable passage of time. However informative these books are — or once were — their irrelevance today demonstrates how knowledge can ultimately be fleeting. For this library of obsolete books, we collaborated with the libraries at Universidad de Costa Rica and the Costa Rica Institute of Technology. → more
BOOKSHELF BY BARBARA HOFFMANN Barbara Hoffmann, Germany/Switzerland
What are the favorite books of designers who normally create other people’s favorite books? We asked book designer Barbara Hoffmann to select 15 books for display at Despacio. Her selection features books that stand out for their thoughtful interplays of form, material, and content. Or in her words, she picked them for, “: it's the story, the smell, the touch, the grid, the look, the cover, the color, the sound, the paper, the weight, the appeal, the size, the title, and...” so many other reasons for which to love these books. → more
TRAINING TO BE A GIRL Sophie Barbasch, United States
Sophie Barbasch's books originate from asking men on Craigslist simple questions like, “Are you lonely?” “Is there anything you've never told anyone?” “Tell me why I'm a good girl,” “Please send me a picture of your bed,” and “Please write me a love letter.” → more
LIFE IS ELSEWHERE Diana Abi Khalil, Lebanon/France
Diana Abi Khalil writes and draws in her little notebooks about traveling to space, heartache, and questioning moments of doubt. Most of the artist’s notebooks are unfinished or forgotten, others have been smudged by rain or tears, and yet others were lost or gifted to friends or lovers. Playful yet honest, these notebooks each take on lives of their own and for the first time ever are united and on view. → more
POINT OF VIEW An Anthology of the Moving Image
For over 30 years, video and film art have challenged many of the conventions of the art world. From questions of reproduction to issues surrounding acquisition, video and film art have grown from marginalized forms of artistic production to material for mainstream filmmaking and music video production. Point of View is an innovative commissioning and publishing project by the New Museum designed to make video and film art more accessible, and to fully utilize the qualities inherent to the medium. → more
The Library in Residence program opened on March 2016 and runs in parallel to Despacio's exhibition program.
With nothing to tell, will the exhibition speak for itself?
The exhibition, which went virtually unnoticed by the general public, was held April 9 – 12, 2016 on the 23rd floor of the Yanggakdo International Hotel in Pyongyang, North Korea. It was conceived of by Random Institute and curated by Anna Hugo and Sandino Scheidegger.
A manipulated and reproduced issue of the state-owned and hard to get Pyongyang Times serves as the official exhibition catalogue. This special edition is strictly limited to 100 unique numbered copies and can be ordered from Mark Pezinger Verlag.
Works of art exhibited: