Thursday, June 3, 2010

Morning tour at the Chinati Foundation

While in Marfa we toured the Chinati Foundation, an art museum based upon the ideas of its founder, the artist Donald Judd, located on 340 acres of land on the site of a former military fort. Different installations and exhibits are housed in various buildings around "the compound," as they call it. Per the Foundation's website, "The specific intention of Chinati is to preserve and present to the public permanent large-scale installations by a limited number of artists. The emphasis is on works in which art and the surrounding landscape are inextricably linked."

For me, one of the highlights of the morning tour was School No. 6 by Russian artist Ilya Kabakov, which is an entire building designed to resemble an abandoned schoolhouse from the former Soviet Union.

The space is filled with detritus of another time--faded posters, toys, and papers scattered around. It makes you feel like you're in Prypiat (one of the Ukrainian towns evacuated after the Chernobyl disaster). Not that I've ever been there.

The objects tell a story of the imaginary children who once spent their days within these walls--in some cases quite literally, via index card captions.

Everything is a little bit askew, with furniture turned on its side, random boards leaning against walls, so that at times you have to climb over it (being careful not to knock it over, as the tour guide constantly reminds you not to touch anything).

One corner of the overgrown courtyard.

The peeling walls are painted an institutional green and white.

The other highlight was Donald Judd's 100 aluminum boxes. Each one has the same dimensions, but the interior is unique in every piece.

This one casts such amazing shadows.

All over Marfa they warn you that "snakes are part of nature." So are giant spiders. We saw at least three inside the buildings at Chinati, one actually inside one of the aluminum boxes. I don't care if tarantulas are supposedly gentle creatures--I don't want to run into one in a dark alley (or anywhere).

1 comment:

  1. I once saw a documentary of a woman who road a motorcycle through the affected areas, abandoned towns of Chernobyl. It was very fascinating, she went to a school house that looked just like that! You are having such an amazing trip!