Hos­tile Nature: Cac­ti, thorny shrubs, prick­ly weeds; burn­ing sand; mur­der­ous waves; vicious dogs patrolling miles of desert beach, crazed from lone­li­ness, guard­ing emp­ty, half-built homes; light­ning cracks so loud it stuns, rain falls so hard it fills the room in min­utes while you bail and mop in futile resis­tance. At noon, when the light is blind­ing and the con­crete is hot, snakes slith­er across your path and coil in dark cor­ners where they wait with one eye open. At dusk, enor­mous toads sta­tion them­selves on your doorstep and in the morn­ing have left you a turd fash­ioned in their own image. At night lizards sing in the rafters and hurl half-digest­ed fruit like lit­tle, bloody bombs onto the mos­qui­to net­ting. All day long, the still swim­ming pool shim­mers, extend­ing like a red car­pet of water to the sea, while stray alli­ga­tors, flood­ed out of the near­by swamp, lurk in the brambles.

Hos­tile Con­struc­tion: Sit­u­at­ed 50 feet to the left of the pool and 100 feet from the beach, stand­ing alone in the mid­dle of a field of burn­ing sand and prick­ly weeds, is a soli­tary struc­ture, served by no cleared paths. It is a sim­ple ter­race with an adjoin­ing back wall and roof, sup­port­ed by one cen­tral col­umn, all made of rough­ly poured con­crete. Illog­i­cal­ly sit­ed and func­tion­al­ly mis­con­ceived, it is called the beach pavil­ion. Its baroque blank­ness is a par­o­dy of use­less­ness; it is, to be pre­cise, a fol­ly. Still, the act of it, the sit­ing and cre­ation of this struc­ture, is irre­sistible: a hard stop in a harsh spot. Nat­u­ral­ly, we are drawn to the inhos­pitable shelter.

Hos­tile Con­di­tions: Every­thing was to be pro­vid­ed and facil­i­tat­ed by a crew that only appeared at lunchtime. Col­lec­tive lunch was pro­vid­ed, lit­er­al­ly served, copi­ous and deli­cious, at a mas­sive table. The miss­ing crew would sud­den­ly mate­ri­al­ize just as gen­er­ous plat­ters of food were being set out, and just as quick­ly van­ish when the table was cleared. We need­ed lum­ber, we need­ed screws, we need­ed a drill and we need­ed pow­er. Marooned on a desert beach, with noth­ing for miles but cac­ti and mad dogs, we were depen­dent on the pro­duc­ers. Our pro­duc­tion needs had been detailed over sev­er­al meet­ings with the team leader, accord­ing to house pro­to­col. Every­thing was care­ful­ly laid out and mutu­al­ly agreed upon. No lum­ber, no screws, no drill, no exten­sion cord, no pow­er, no crew, no news. Yes, our own hands and yes, the sun.



The pur­pose of the orga­ni­za­tion, as laid out in house mis­sion state­ment, was to engage the local com­mu­ni­ties with the work of the res­i­dent artist(s). Para­dox­i­cal­ly, the extreme iso­la­tion of the loca­tion ensured that there was nev­er any con­tact with any­one beyond the com­pound. When it came time to real­ize our group activ­i­ty, the par­tic­i­pants were gath­ered through out­reach car­ried out by rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the estab­lish­ment. For­mal­ly invit­ed and con­firmed, the guest-par­tic­i­pants were bussed to the com­pound from sev­er­al sur­round­ing vil­lages. Many peo­ple came, young and old, fam­i­lies with chil­dren, youth and elders. The arti­fi­cial­ly engi­neered intro­duc­tion of local, work­ing-class peo­ple into the great hall of the of the mod­ernist hacien­da was weird and won­der­ful, how­ev­er awk­ward. To view this staged jux­ta­po­si­tion of extremes as objec­tion­able, from any angle, would be a mis­take, even an abdi­ca­tion of respon­si­bil­i­ty. The col­li­sion is essen­tial. Any­way, always, to vary­ing degrees, dis­com­fort is part of the work. Dis­com­fort is the need for, and expres­sion of, effort. Pro­vok­ing exchange among indi­vid­u­als in unfa­mil­iar group­ings is the start­ing point to every work, set­ting in motion a regen­er­a­tive col­lec­tive dynam­ic. And here, because of a series of cir­cum­stances beyond our con­trol, we were pre­sent­ed with a meta-per­for­mance of fab­ri­cat­ed social inte­gra­tion, of which our lit­tle enact­ment at the beach pavil­ion became the apotheosis. 

The sun was low on the hori­zon when we made the pro­ces­sion through the prick­ly weeds, cir­cum­vent­ing the swim­ming pool in sin­gle file, into the desert field to the beach pavil­ion fit­ted with our wood­en appa­ra­tus. The par­tic­i­pants wove them­selves into the struc­ture. Twen­ty-four in total climb into the enclo­sure, duck­ing under the wood­en bar­ri­ers and into their respec­tive nooks. D.M. was our charis­mat­ic mas­ter of cer­e­monies. The drums, rat­tles and bells begin as every­one leans in for their first contact.