david hartt's 'in the forest' documents unfinished development in puerto rico by moshe safdie
 

david hartt's 'in the forest' documents unfinished development in puerto rico by moshe safdie

artist david hartt has created a multi-part installation that shines new light on moshe safdie’s unfinished 1968 ‘habitat puerto rico’ project. the exhibit, which coincides with the 2017 chicago architecture biennial as well as EXPO chicago, is on view at the graham foundation’s madlener house galleries. named ‘in the forest’ — a titled borrowed from claude lévi-strauss’ 1955 memoir tristes tropiques — the installation consists of a film, a suite of photographs, and a series of sculptures, which continue hartt’s investigation into the relationship between ideology, architecture, and the environment.

david hartt in the forest
david hartt, ‘carolina I,’ 2017, archival pigment print mounted to dibond, print size 36 x 54 inches.
courtesy of corbett vs. dempsey and commissioned by the graham foundation for advanced studies in the fine arts.

 

 

work on ‘habitat puerto rico’ began just a year after the success of moshe safdie’s design for habitat 67 in montreal. the experimental housing development was designed to provide 800 low cost units to moderate-income families in a system of stacked prefabricated concrete modules. the development was planned to open next to one of the area’s major boulevards, however, the derelict building now sits amid a dense tropical forest.

david hartt in the forest
david hartt, still from ‘in the forest,’ 2017. 4K digital video file, color, sound; 20 min.
courtesy of corbett vs. dempsey and commissioned by the graham foundation for advanced studies in the fine arts.

 

 

although safdie was initially optimistic about the project, a number of constraints led to its downfall: the financing of the scheme was strictly dictated by the federal housing subsidy, while the flat hexagonal form and size of the individual modules was derived from the need to make the concrete units transportable by highway or barge — as it was not possible to build a factory in close proximity to the original site. consequently, the project was abandoned at an early phase of its construction.

david hartt in the forest
david hartt, still from ‘in the forest,’ 2017. 4K digital video file, color, sound; 20 min.
courtesy of corbett vs. dempsey and commissioned by the graham foundation for advanced studies in the fine arts.

 

 

at the graham foundation in chicago, david hartt has created a meditative film that captures the remains of safdie’s abandoned project — nearly half a century after it was initiated. hartt’s elegy to the unrealized development features long takes of the weathered modules surrounded by the encroaching jungle and environmental recordings layered with a composition by electronic musician karl fousek. the movie is accompanied by photographs, sculptures, tropical plants, ambient sound, and stacks of hexagonal ceramic objects that serve as both planters and seats.

david hartt in the forest
david hartt, still from ‘in the forest,’ 2017. 4K digital video file, color, sound; 20 min.
courtesy of corbett vs. dempsey and commissioned by the graham foundation for advanced studies in the fine arts.

 

 

‘david hartt is one of the most compelling artists working at the intersection of art and architecture today,’ says graham foundation director sarah herda. ‘through this commission and presentation, we are thrilled to create a platform for experimentation in david’s practice and to work along with him to present this immersive and thought provoking work.’

 

‘in the forest’ remains on view until January 6, 2018 coinciding with the 2017 chicago architecture biennial.

david hartt in the forest
david hartt, still from ‘in the forest,’ 2017. 4K digital video file, color, sound; 20 min.
courtesy of corbett vs. dempsey and commissioned by the graham foundation for advanced studies in the fine arts.

david hartt in the forest
david hartt, still from ‘in the forest,’ 2017. 4K digital video file, color, sound; 20 min.
courtesy of corbett vs. dempsey and commissioned by the graham foundation for advanced studies in the fine arts.

david hartt in the forest
david hartt, still from ‘in the forest,’ 2017. 4K digital video file, color, sound; 20 min.
courtesy of corbett vs. dempsey and commissioned by the graham foundation for advanced studies in the fine arts.

david hartt in the forest
david hartt, still from ‘in the forest,’ 2017. 4K digital video file, color, sound; 20 min.
courtesy of corbett vs. dempsey and commissioned by the graham foundation for advanced studies in the fine arts.

david hartt in the forest
david hartt, still from ‘in the forest,’ 2017. 4K digital video file, color, sound; 20 min.
courtesy of corbett vs. dempsey and commissioned by the graham foundation for advanced studies in the fine arts.

david hartt in the forest
david hartt, ‘camuy II,’ 2017, archival pigment print mounted to dibond, print size 36 x 54 inches.
courtesy of corbett vs. dempsey and commissioned by the graham foundation for advanced studies in the fine arts.

david hartt in the forest
david hartt, ‘in the forest,’ 2017. 4K digital video file, color, sound; 20 min.
image by designboom

david hartt in the forest
david hartt, ‘in the forest,’ 2017. 4K digital video file, color, sound; 20 min.
image by designboom

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