The visionary early experiments in ecologically-driven architecture – explored, for example, by the American commune Drop City in the 1960s – have gained a fresh significance in the era of heightened awareness to climate change. The work of Oscar Tuazon, artist, writer, and co-founder of the project space Castillo/Corrales in Paris, draws on architectural and social experiments oriented towards the pursuit of simple, self-sufficient life – from DIY to survivalism. Operating at the interfaces of sculpture, architecture and design, his harsh interventions challenge the architecture of exhibition spaces while testing the breaking points of his recurring materials: concrete, wood and steel.
For the succinctly titled A Home, Tuazon appropriated the mobile insulation technique Beadwall, developed by pioneering solar and architectural designer Steve Baer in the 1970s. For this process, the gap between two panes of double-glazed windows is pumped full of polystyrene beads at night, and emptied again the following morning. Tuazon deployed this technique for six window structures: in Curtain Wall and Problem Solver (2013), motors on steel barrels pumped beads between two panes of glass; the motors now stand idle, likely defunct. Insulating the open-plan middle of a room is futile in principle, and these windows admit only partial light. In an installation that is unusually restrained for Tuazon, these dummy windows line a monumental platform made of oriented strand board, separating it from a massive plaster wall. Formally corresponding square plaster casts were hung on steel grids on the gallery walls like panel paintings. These were constructed from the surface of the window sculpture Substitute (2013), placed at the back of the room; in this case, the polystyrene circulating system was halted through the addition of plaster. The titles of panels placed on the gallery walls – such as Another False Wall (2013) – indicate their surrogate qualities. As the artist divulged in the exhibition press release, A Home is a 1:1 model of his secluded house in the woods near Seattle. The house, a two-room former storehouse, has been connected to electricity and running water in a DIY manner such that, although unfinished, it serves as a studio in summer.
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