Five Artist Residences in Marfa
Yale School of Architecture, Spring 2017 semester project. Thomas Phifer with Kyle Dugdale, critics. The studio takes as its starting point the Chinati Foundation in Marfa, Texas. Founded by Donald Judd in 1979, the former Fort Russell campus was opened to the public in 1986 with the mission to preserve and present art in direct dialogue with the landscape. Each artist is exhibited in a separate building on the 340-acre site, creating a campus of autonomous buildings, each with a specific relationship with the landscape.
The project seeks to interrogate Judd's work and intentions through the design of the ritualized interior, and ultimately acts as a means to investigate the relationship between the rituals of private life, the habits of production, and the demands of exhibition within artistic environs.
In Fort D. A. Russell, we find a bygone regime of power subsumed by art and landscape. We enjoy these landscapes because they mark the passage of power, the concealment and surveillance, and the residue of an empire. Here, we witness the dissolution of power. The preservationist has the delicate task of curating entropy, of manufacturing the picturesque. On the site, artists move vertically into their residences in order to experience the horizon from a new vantage, moving through layers of fortification. The monolith and the multiple create a system. Judd's use of serial repetition helps to desubjectify his art. The multiple creates a system. In much the same way, each structure is of the same family, but each maintains a different character. The datum at the crest is consistent, but each structure meets the ground in highly specific ways.