Monday, February 23, 2009

Where it all began

Yurt City is an outdoor, collaborative tent and yurt installation by New York based, Canadian artists, Sheila Ross and Laura Ten Eyck was first installed at Dam Stuhltrager Gallery. Adjacent images are from that installation. Ross and Ten Eyck installed several small tents of varying height and a prefab yurt structure, which had been ornately embellished on the interior, which served as a meeting ground for several other tent structures. Other artists were invited to collaborate by adding, modifying or responding to these tents. Ten Eyck created her own intervention in a one person pup tent. It is titled Yes or No.

Initially Yurt City was conceived in response to the ongoing housing crisis of New York city with unaffordable rents for housing/studio space. In this first incarnation of Yurt City, it was installed in the the gallery's Sculpture Garden located in in Williamsburg Brooklyn, a neighbourhood undergoing a transformation of rampant development, displacing residents, including the local artist’s community. Yurt City is a response to this lack of space for artists to make and exhibit their work. Yurt City provides a venue for artists to participate, collaborate and foster a sense of community. The venue was as an outdoor laboratory for the development of temporary, ad hoc and vernacular architecture and adjunct forms in relationship to personal, practical and Utopian notions of community and landscape. Yurt City also pays homage to the importance of the guest in Nomadic cultures, as the inclusion and participation of the guest artist is integral to the concept of this project.

Part camping experience, part tent city response to the urban housing issues, and part homage to Nomadic yurt dwellers of Central Asia, Yurt City uses the architectural elements to reflect on different experiences of structure in the urban landscape. While indebted to the spirit of tent cities, or the shantytown phenomenon called Gecekondu, Turkish for “built in one night,” the tents of Yurt City their modifications and additions were built sturdily enough to remain for the two month duration of this first exhibition. It was our hope that Yurt City, keeping with the ad hoc spirit of the nomadic, temporary tent city or Gecekondu, will be prove to be transformative for viewers and guest artists alike and will continue to do so as it grows and evolves into ongoing incarnations.

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