Architecture

Orchid pavilion | Bernardo Quinzaños

2024
The Orchid Pavilion, designed for Casa Wabi and inaugurated on February 3rd, 2024, is located
on the outskirts of Puerto Escondido, between the sea and the mountains. It is a wooden structure, permanent, sustainable, and lightweight, dedicated to the conservation of orchids in the Oaxaca region, which highlights the strong relationship between the biological and cultural diversity of the landscape.

As we approached the design of the Orchid Pavilion at Casa Wabi, our research pointed towardsome clear technical features, components, and facts. It became evident that in order to grow,reproduce, and collect orchids, we needed to create the right environment for them to thrive:humid, partially shaded, and well-ventilated.

But more interestingly, the relationship between the Japanese philosophy of Wabi-Sabi, whichbelieves that beauty and harmony are found in simplicity, imperfection, and unconventionality,and the rich and complex traditions of the Oaxacan coast—its vernacular, locally sourcedmaterials, and the high quality of the artisanal works of the local craftsmen—were to be at thecenter of our proposal. Then, unexpectedly, we thought of the Japanese word Ikigai.

Ikigai (生き甲斐, ‘a reason for being‘) could be roughly translated as the happinessof being busy. The term combines two Japanese words: iki (生き, meaning ‘life oralive’) and kai (甲斐, meaning ‘an effect, result, fruit, or worth’), resulting in‘a reason for being alive’.

When somebody finds their purpose, their calling, they are more likely to lead a long, healthy life.However, it’s easy to get lost in the stress and noise of our daily routine, so we need to makespace, we need to chill out,in this case, with the orchids.

When you enter the pavilion, you breathe in the humidity, hear the gentle drops falling, feel thecrossing winds, and hopefully, you will be able to remember who you are, what your reason forbeing is. What is your Ikigai.

Our pavilion focuses on three main elements:

Firstly, the pavilion is a simple and austere machine. Twelve clay-based humidifiers utilize gravityto create a humid environment within the structure that houses orchids from the Oaxacan coast.

Secondly, the pavilion employs simple construction materials and techniques, including locallysourced wood and custom-made clay ceramic pieces baked in high-temperature kilns.

And thirdly, the pavilion serves as a sanctuary for the orchids while also aiming to evoke aprofound sense of Ikigai in its visitors.

The main element that allows orchids to thrive is a humid environment. The intricate roots,branches, and leaflets gather water from the air, soil, and all surfaces. A series of pyramid-shaped,water-filled clay basins rests at the top of a simple wooden structure. The basins slowly filter tinydroplets of water that fall to the ground, allowing for drip irrigation. The water is collected by clay-based trays that remain permanently humid. The breeze and heat enable the orchids to drinkwater directly from the environment, eliminating the need for manual watering of the specimens.

“Life is the essence of wetness, and wetness is the essence of beauty”-Derek Zoolander

To the guests of Casa Wabi, the orchid pavilion offers a refuge to sit and drink water after a longwalk. Remembering that the first steps of humanity occurred in the shade of a tree, the pavilionalso communicates a contemplative journey, as the water people drink is the same water orchidsdrink.

The sound of dripping in the bowls resonates with different natural cycles and human activity.This cool, semi-submerged space changes the horizon and perspective of visitors as theydescend to ground level, allowing them not only to appreciate the diversity of orchid species butalso to connect with the humble root of life in a state of harmony.

Casa Wabi

2014
The main headquarters of the foundation was designed and built by the renowned japanese architect Tadao Ando (Pritzker, 1995) Project Manager / Architect Alex Lida, with the collaboration of the local law firm BAAQ.
“The construction looks directly at the Pacific Ocean, sharing 550 meters of coastline with only the impressive beach. I have created a concrete wall 312 meters long by 3.6 meters high with that generous expanse of land. This wall creates a horizontal separation between public programs on the north and private sections on the south side. The rich red and orange sunset reflects off the concrete surface. This is a very unique project, where I used various unusual materials, allowing me to create architecture and spaces that cannot be created anywhere else.“
Tadao Ando

Art Interventions

From Where We Rise (freestanding wall, soil painting) | Claudia Comte

2024
Claudia Comte’s From Where We Rise, based on her Casa Wabi exhibition of the same name, may not at first appear to be a work of public protest. Not in the context of more clearly political bodies of work such as her recent series of HAHAHA paintings, with titles like A Plastic Bag Drifting Underwater Over a Coral Reef (hahaha painting) (2022) and A Mother and Child at a Macaque Breeding Facility (hahaha painting) (2022). Those suggest some combination of supervillain glee and the frantic quality of laugh-or-cry despair in the face of calamity. Another recent series of what are essentially funerary reliefs for flora in white Carrara marble (a la Roman sepulcher sculpture) carry titles such as DECREASED RAINFALL LINKED WITH TROPICS DEFORESTATION (2023) and NEARLY A THIRD OF WORLD’S CACTI FACE EXTINCTION, SAYS IUCN (2023).

In contrast to such explicit statements of protest, From Where We Rise looks like something else: more of an experiment in visual perception than social activism. But its subject is the precarity of the human condition. What we see is a landscape of red dunes cresting in an endlessly repeating climax. Fashioned from local soil, it stands in seeming harmony with the hardscrabble but irrepressibly fecund local environment, including the various native plants that Comte intended to be integral to it. But this harmony is an intentionally gorgeous mirage. The insistently accelerating pattern of irregular wave forms on the wall is: a distortion field; a visual klaxon signaling doom; the readout of a terrestrial oscilloscope, with the disordered frequency, cycle, wavelength, amplitude, and phase of these waves showing our existence accelerating towards critical mass.

Of course it is fine to appreciate its beauty; but we should also have the courage to see it for what it is: a kind of futuristic diorama we might imagine having been created to tell the story of the death of the Earth—perhaps for a natural history museum on another planet a million years from now. The visual summary is that humanity is in the process of wave-amplifying the Earth into spinning out of control. We are in danger of turning our glorious garden planet into an uninhabitable desert. As such From Where We Rise should be classified with not Op Art but other citizen-of-the-world, plight-of-humanity monuments such as Isamu Noguchi’s Sculpture to Be Seen From Mars, a vast land art epitaph to humanity that Noguchi proposed in 1949 under the assumption that the dawn of the atomic age signaled the inevitability of our self-annihilation.

The version of the American Southwest and Monument Valley (Arizona/Utah, USA) featured in the Looney Tunes cartoons starring Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner has been cited before as a source for Comte’s landscapes. Which may sound odd bordering on insulting at first, but was intended as serious interpretation. The awesomely composed quality of Comte’s work—as it does in From Where We Rise—tends to mask the purposeful ludicrousness of its manias. Just as the exuberance on display in those cartoons—which regularly veers into a fairly nakedly vicious insanity that we choose, heads buried in the sand, to interpret as mere silliness—camouflages the fact that they are artifacts of the cold war and entirely symptomatic of its psychopathies.

The mindlessly brutal struggle between Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner reflects the fear and anxiety of living under the perpetual threat of imminent nuclear holocaust. The supposedly natural enmity between the two protagonists is satire. The gleeful arms race in which they engage is satire. The absence of any meaningful communication between them besides violence is satire. The landscape they “inhabit,” that of the Manhattan project (the frequent use of miniature mushroom clouds drives home the point), is a harbinger of the post-apocalyptic environmental conditions—nuclear winter covering a global desert—that were/are one of its most likely byproducts. Theirs is a bleak world devoid of sense, in which a bland cruelty mocks the idea of detente and has replaced any shred of humanity. And so is ours. A fact only partially obscured by the still relatively idyllic Oaxacan landscape.

The cold war sort of ended, but we have managed to find new ways to send the world careening towards oblivion—with a solid majority of us abetting its ruin through willful, blind allegiance to our own self interests. The immediate sources of fear have shifted: from nuclear war to climate change, for example. But the sense of impotence and the resultant anxiety have not. Comte’s work seethes with the frustration of our helplessness: to address the overwhelmingly perilous state of things and the seemingly Sisyphean task of doing anything about it with art. A task from which Comte, nevertheless, does not flinch. Her amiable-seeming, bulbous biomorphism is satire. Her dalliances with the appearances and operations of space design are satire. The explicit femininity with which she suffuses her work—luxuriously sensuous material treatments, a general sinuosity, and extreme formal beauty—are satire. She is never anything less than furious at the mess we are making of the world.

And yet, From Where We Rise does offer a glimmer of hope of sorts—beyond the inescapable beauty of nature, even under assault. (The tidal wave that destroys your home is still, on its own formal terms, a sublime thing.) If the world as we know it ends—at the hands of eight billion non-custodial, negligently terracidal human beings—maybe Oaxaca is one place where life, in some form, will take root to rise again.

Dakin Hart

Dial a Poem | John Giorno

2022
Casa Wabi Foundation and John Giorno Foundation present Dial-A-Poem Mexico, the first posthumous two-part edition of John Giorno’s iconic public poetry service. The piece is available to callers in Mexico for free since February 10, 2022.
First launched in 1968 after a conversation with William Burroughs, the ongoing project allows callers to access a selection of poetry by dialing from their phone. Dial-A-Poem was unique in that it discovered the telephone as a place of mass communication. More than a million people used the service, which inspired a variety of artistic and commercial applications such as Dial-A-Joke, Dial Sports, and Dial A Horoscope. The Mexican edition offers two toll-free numbers for local callers, one with national poetry and the second with poetry from previous editions in English:

+ 52 55 9225 2840 (Mexican Spanish and native languages edition)
+ 52 55 9225 2673 (Original English edition)

Dial-A-Poem Mexico was recorded in Mexico City and is the first edition to be produced in languages other than English. The platform brings together the work of 30 mexican authors from different generations with 27 texts in spanish and 3 in mixe, mixteco and maya tzotzil respectively. The selection was organized by Claudia Quezada—coordinator of the Center for Research and Literary Studies of Aguascalientes (Ciela Fraguas)—and Alberto Ríos de la Rosa, curator of Fundación Casa Wabi. The service will continue to grow each year with new works from other authors, musicians, and artists. The selected authors are:

Javier Acosta (Zacatecas ,1967)
Susi Bentzulul (Chiapas, 1995)
Adán Brand (Aguascalientes, 1984)
César Cañedo (Sinaloa, 1988)
Bertha María Choza (Sinaloa ,1994)
Elsa Cross (Ciudad de México, 1946)
Luis Vicente de Aguinaga (Jalisco, 1971)
Diana del Ángel (Ciudad de México, 1982)
Elisa Díaz Castelo (Ciudad de México, 1986)
Claudina Domingo (Ciudad de México, 1982)
Diana Domínguez (Oaxaca, 1994)
Victoria Equihua (Michoacán, 1993)
Fernando Fernández (Ciudad de México, 1964)
David Anuar (Quintana Roo, 1989)
Jeanne Karen (San Luis Potosí, 1976)
Lorena Huitrón (Veracruz, 1982)
Orlando Mondragón (Guerrero, 1993)
Alec Montero (Guanajuato, 1997)
Jorge Ortega (Baja California, 1972)
Patricia Ortiz (Aguascalientes, 1972)
María Rivera (Ciudad de México, 1971)
Martha Rodríguez Mega (Ciudad de México, 1991)
Celerina Sánchez (Oaxaca, 1967)
Claudia Santa Ana (Ciudad de México, 1974)
Renato Tinajero (Tamaulipas, 1976)
Ángela Vázquez González (Ciudad de México, 2000)
Eduardo Vázquez Martín (Ciudad de México, 1962)
Frydha Victoria (Nayarit, 1993)
Daniel Wence (Michoacán, 1984)
Ricado Yáñez (Jalisco, 1948)

“Wall” | Bosco Sodi

2019
Made from white marble bricks – the epitome of classical sculptural production – the wall is removed from its traditional function and re-contextualized in a narrative of the absurd. A wall that does not divide anything builds a critique of irrational and incomprehensible actions that lead to the construction of physical or imaginary walls.
“It is about breaking down the walls, physical and mental” –Bosco Sodi.

Bosco Sodi installed a symbolic Wall in the emblematic Washington Square Park, in New York. The project arose in response to “the growing indignation of the mexican people regarding the immigration policies implemented in the United States.”
The 1,600 bricks were made in collaboration with 20 mexican artisans who used materials from Oaxaca to later be transported by migrant route from Oaxaca to Nuevo Laredo, and from there to New York City.
People of all ages helped dismantle the wall, taking every single brick with them.
The action responded nonviolently to hostile treatment of migrants. To include instead of removing; and destroy walls.
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