Previously in the Nasher XChange series:
- Flock in Space, Nasher XChange, Entry One of Ten
- X , Nasher XChange, Entry Two of Ten
- Fountainhead , Nasher XChange, Entry Three of Ten
- Moore to the Point, Nasher XChange, Entry Four of Ten
I began to feel old, out of shape, and drained as I worked my way north from Paul Quinn College to the third and final Nasher XChange exhibition on my bike ride through South Dallas. It was only a 12.5 mile ride – but these were tough miles. The last half of the route was hilly, the road was rough, and I had to stop every block, fighting my way through the traffic.
But once I rode up to Lara Almarcegui’s Buried House, I realized that here, more than any of the other sites, really begged to be seen by bicycle. I simply can’t imagine what it would be like to drive up to the now-vacant lot in an SUV, step out for a minute or two, then pile back in and drive home. It wouldn’t be the same… you would miss the point.
The work is meaningless without experiencing the surrounding neighborhood.
It is a tough part of town. The streets and sidewalks are in bad repair, cracked and heaving. Trash pickup is spotty at best. The modest homes are a varied melange – a torn up shack here, a burned hulk there, but there are also well-cared, decorated homes that are obviously a great source of pride to an unassuming owner.
And there were plenty of other vacant lots – most littered with junk and sprinkled with empty bottles.
You don’t see the details from a car… but you do from a tired, slow-moving bicycle.
Ironically, this is the second blog entry this February where I found myself taking a photo of a vacant lot. The other one, Arcady, was in the most tony enclave of Highland Park. That neighborhood is the polar opposite of the rugged Oak Cliff Gardens district where Buried House is located.
Destruction, renewal, the inevitable ultimate victory of chaos and entropy… rich and poor, our fate is already written.
After I left the site I had a a short ride on neighborhood streets until I reached the DART Kiest Station and after a short wait, caught the Blue Line downtown, where I switched to the Red line to Richardson and home.
From the Nasher Website:
2226 Exeter Ave.
Oak Cliff Gardens
The buried remains of a house offer an opportunity for reflection on the transition
and rebirth of one of Dallas’s oldest neighborhoods: Oak Cliff Gardens.
Almarcegui’s project for Nasher XChange, entitled Buried House, involves working with Dallas Area Habitat for Humanity on a house in Southeast Dallas already slated for demolition. After the demolition is finished, the artist will bury the house’s remains on the property, creating a sort of memorial site that nonetheless retains the building’s actual substance and provides a “free space” for reflection on the neighborhood’s past, present and future.
Almarcegui is working in Oak Cliff Gardens, a neighborhood in East Oak Cliff, with a history almost as old as Dallas itself. Near the site of the first stop for stagecoaches headed out of Dallas for Central Texas, the area surrounding the intersection at Lancaster and Ann Arbor roads became the small town of Lisbon, which was in turn annexed by the city in 1929.
Today, Oak Cliff Gardens is a neighborhood in transition. Many derelict, often vacant, homes will undergo renovations, thanks to the help of organizations such as Habitat for Humanity. These “wastelands” in the neighborhood embody a significant historical moment of possibility when anything might happen. Almarcegui hopes to draw attention to this area and make people in Dallas aware of its rich and varied character, before it is changed forever.
Buried House, 2013
Demolished and buried house
Born in Spain and based in The Netherlands, Lara Almarcegui brings attention to places most people pass without noticing, such as derelict, abandoned buildings and seemingly vacant plots of land.
Working in environments and places in the midst of transformation, Almarcegui researches and documents them, developing unconventional and creative ways of drawing attention to them. As her contribution to Nasher XChange, Almarceguui has worked with Dallas Area Habitat for Humanity to locate a house already slated for demolition. After the demolition, she buried the house’s remains on the property. As the artist has explained, “This project is a sculptural work that is about the construction that used to stand, the history of the house and how it was erected. However it’s not just about the house, but about the past of the terrain and the future of the terrain. It is a work about construction and urban development.”