Aug 12, 2009

Number One and Two

Last week I visited Steve McFarland, Izumi Yokoyama, and Dave at their amazing place on the Taos mesa.   Dubbed Project Unknown, the place lives up to its name.  It's raw and fresh and completely elemental.  Construction has been going on rather continuously at Project Unknown for the last two summers -- a fence has been in progress, a large shipping container acquired and moved to the land, and a very nice studio building is nearly finished -- but I was lucky to be around for a few of the foundational moments the evolution of this place.  

After sleeping under the stars in the back of a giant Chevy truck (above), my sister and I moved into a semi-abandoned camper.  

We didn't have electricity and lived by the light of fire, headlamps, starlight.  We cooked on a propane stove in an outdoor kitchen, ran power tools off a generator and charged our cellphones in the car.  

Izumi and I had the awesome experience of building an outhouse.  We dug a giant hole amidst the chemisa, built a frame, walls with a big window, a burly roof, and enough room for toilet, sink, storage, and peace.  To celebrate the near-completion of the new outhouse, we burnt the previous latrine.  

I was reminded of a few things written by artists involved with the communes of the 1960s. For instance, Bill Voyd wrote in Shelter & Society (Praeger Publishers, 1969):
The greatest impact on communal life upon the artist is the realization that all community activity is equal, that digging a ditch carries no less status than erecting a sculpture; in fact the individual often discovers he is happier digging a ditch, sculpting a ditch.  Life forms and art forms begin to interact.
I have been honestly, truly happy digging ditches these days.  

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