Magazine article Artforum International

Mikel Bergara

Magazine article Artforum International

Mikel Bergara

Article excerpt

METRONOM

Mikel Bergara's installation Savannah, 1995, consisted of four constructions resembling allegorical ruins, based on a group of log cabins that during the 17th century formed the original urban center of the American city that now bears this name. His project viewed the original log cabins as a model of utopian architecture that existed prior to the more familiar 18th-century projects of Etienne-Louis Boullee and Claude Nicolas Ledoux in Europe. By distributing what resembled scaffolding throughout the exhibition space, Bergara attempted to suggest the "ruins" of these cabins, rather than their intact structures.

The artist's goal in this project was to envision a form of architecture capable of imitating nature without invading or assaulting it. The installation became a meditation on the ramifications of - and need for - a return to nature. Although there were no explicit references to Jean-Jacques Rousseau's "noble savage," the philosopher's writings became an inevitable point of reference.

The visitors strolled between the walls of the rectangular structures, which resembled half-demolished houses - the aftereffects of a disaster. Viewing these simulacra, not of intact buildings, but of houses in ruins, houses that have suffered wear and tear, left the viewer with a sense of alienation mixed with nostalgia for a return to a more natural state. …

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