Y si pudiera volar… ¿qué tan alto llegaría?
(And if I could fly… How high would I get?)
January 16 to March 27
Among the three functions that the French architect Le Corbusier named as being elemental for a house –understood to mean any habitable construction – the second one was a receptacle for light and sunshine. Another of the two is associated with providing shelter from the heat, cold, rain, thieves and curious eyes, while the third function requires the design of a certain number of areas (which he calls “cells”) suitable for cooking, working and one’s personal life. This relationship between architecture and light, which is also key for Mathias Goeritz, generates the emotional textures that comprise our interactions with the inside and outside worlds. Without light there is no life.
Jerónimo Hagerman has created an intervention for El Eco that dialogues with the architecture of Goeritz in a way that turns the venue into a sensorium. The peculiarity of this name has to do not only with the sensation and perception of an environment, but also with the way we interpret it. His intervention is a space within a space where light is made visible by means of reflections, and the vegetation creates an ambience for congregations of people, as well as for another class of visitor: birds.
The outline of a circle – a nonexistent shape within the emotional architecture of Goeritz – on the building’s plan has helped Hagerman reconfigure the layout of El Eco using a row of bamboo, high enough to hang a green curtain. This arrangement creates a new space for the contemplation of that which is visible and invisible – light, the sky, the air, gravity – and where the inside and outside worlds merge. It is also a space for waiting. Waiting for that animal presence that operates within a realm far removed from that of human impulses. In the courtyard a set of yellow birdbaths made from recycled TV antennas are waiting for birds from the surrounding area to take advantage of the available food and water. The artist puts his trust in a mechanism, which is very simple yet also very unpredictable: birds calling out to one another. One bird discovers food. That bird calls out to another one, and that one to another, and that one yet to another, and so on. “I heard of a man in India who assumed the responsibility of feeding parrots after a tsunami had struck. Today he feeds about 4,000 parrots every day on the roof of his house”.
How many birds have come here over the course of the exhibition?
In his book The Architecture of Happiness, Alain de Botton talks about how we seem to be divided between a need to tune out our environment or nod off in its presence, and a contradictory impulse to accept the extent to which our identities are indelibly connected and change in relation to our location. De Botton says that architecture communicates to us and shapes us while also projecting ideals of what we want ourselves to be. Perhaps these words by Cervantes would even better describe Hagerman’s concerns: “There is time for recreation, when the tormented spirit can rest. That is why poplar groves are planted, springs are made into fountains, slopes are levelled and gardens created in wonderful designs.”1
Hagerman’s installation invites the viewer to think about the limits of the human scale and about the place we occupy as individuals in the universe. It also leaves open the possibilities for events and happenings to be held during the period of the exhibition: spontaneous visits, lectures, meetings,concerts. His work invites us to question and analyze the relationships between natural and manmade things, while also addressing the modern mythology that juxtaposes civilization and savagery — whether in reference to processes of domestication, assigning an aesthetic value to natural landscapes or the decision to either align humans against nature or consider them as part of her. Y si pudiera volar… dissolves the figure of the artist and invites us to contemplate our relationship with ourselves and with others in a celebration of the effect that our environments create in each of us.
Curators: Mauricio Marcin, David Miranda and Paola Santoscoy
Jerónimo Hagerman (Mexico City, 1967) For more than a decade Jerónimo has explored the possible positions of human beings in relation to and within nature. His earliest works oscillated between sculptural and plant installations. The latter were like landscapes where plants, by their very presence, modify a space and slightly change the ambience, causing sensory spasms among visitors. In Mexico he has exhibited at the UNAM’s Museo de Arte Contemporáneo, the Museo de Arte Carrillo Gil and the Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes, among other venues. He has also developed projects in the United States, Canada, Japan, Poland, France, Spain, Singapore, Ireland and Russia. Among his works are Jardín de olor, a permanent installation at the Library of Mexico; Archipiélago, in Matadero, Madrid; Below Level 0 in Nanyang University, Singapore; Contemplando la invasion, project for the façade of Sala de Arte Público Siqueiros (Mexico) and the project for the façade of the Biennial of the Americas (Denver, CO, USA).He has been a participant in the FONCA-Banff (Canada, 2009) and Ranchito-Matadero (Madrid, Spain, 2010) artist residency programs. He also received an Askeaton Contemporary Arts commission (Ireland, July 2010). He alternates between living and working in Mexico City and Barcelona, Spain.
Image: Micro-landscape of moss on clay tile in the courtyard of El Eco / Photo: Jerónimo Hagerman
Thanks to the entire El Eco team, who helped find the antennas and to those who donated them. Alonso Escudero and Roberto Núñez A., Edith Hernández, Alexis Yasky and family.Edgar Hernández, Inbal Miller and family. Eduardo Ruiz Galindo B., Edurne San Sebastián B. and family, the Pandal Charlez gang (Ricardo, Vivian, Max, Tadeo and León). Fernando Casarez, Alejandro Casarez and their team, Santiago Borja, the petateweavers from San Luis Atolotitlán, Puebla, and to Agustín Rodríguez Rivas for the bamboo. And thanks to my family and friends both here and there, and to Roger.
…I dedicate this exhibition to Jacob and David.
1 Miguel de Cervantes, preface to his Novelas Ejemplares series (1590-1612).