andrea zittel sites wagon station encampment in the california desertblurring the line between art and life, american artist andrea zittel’s fascinating experiments in functional living showcase her preoccupation with self-sufficiency and adaptability. since a decade she has been creating minimal self-sufficient dwelling spaces in which everyday actions such as sleeping, eating, cooking, bathing and socializing are transformed into acts of art.

andrea zittel sites wagon station encampment in the california desert
a luxurious double-wide A-Z wagon station customized by andrea zittel and david dodge
image courtesy andrea zittel

 

 

‘A-Z west’ is located on thirty-five acres in the california high desert next to joshua tree national park. since its inception in fall 2000, ‘A-Z west’ has been undergoing an ongoing conversion into our testing grounds for ‘A-Z designs for living’.

 

the artist wanted to explore how perceptions of freedom have been re-adapted for contemporary living, but despite moving to the desert to be alone, she ended up doing many social and public projects. current structures and projects include two original homestead cabins that serve as zittel’s primary residence and guest house, a studio/shop facility, a shipping container compound, regenerating field, and the wagon station encampment.

andrea zittel sites wagon station encampment in the california desert
A-Z wagon station customized by jonas hauptman (super-sized by adding extra sections)
image courtesy andrea zittel

 

 

instead of building big ranches and permanent homesteads, today’s independence seekers prefer small portable structures, which evade the regulatory control of bureaucratic restrictions such as building and safety codes. zittel developed temporary living shelters that reference both the covered wagons of the old western frontier and the standard suburban station wagons of today. although the wagon stations do not have wheels, they are easy to collapse, transport, and reassemble. their small size allows them to evade building codes, providing the inhabitant with the potential for greater freedom and autonomy.

andrea zittel sites wagon station encampment in the california desert
the new footing and a tie down system, along with fasteners on the hatch and back entry door
image courtesy andrea zittel

 

 

of the 17 original wagon stations, 13 were customized by friends and frequent collaborators at A-Z west. when  jonas hauptman (the original fabricator of all the units) left california (2010) to pursue a job opportunity, the customized structure began to languish in the desert elements. now zittel turned it into a wagon station vacation where people can stay when they visit A-Z west.

andrea zittel sites wagon station encampment in the california desert
all of the customized wagon stations were slowly replaced with new stock of wagon stations
image courtesy andrea zittel

andrea zittel sites wagon station encampment in the california desert
the desert windstorms have managed to flip and smash them on an ongoing basis
image courtesy andrea zittel

andrea zittel sites wagon station encampment in the california desert
repair of wagon stations after they were demolished by the wind in february of 2008
image courtesy andrea zittel

andrea zittel sites wagon station encampment in the california desert
A-Z wagon stations at milwaukee museum of art
image courtesy andrea zittel

andrea zittel sites wagon station encampment in the california desert
A-Z wagon stations at milwaukee museum of art
image courtesy andrea zittel