“We wanted to take an intervention, an approach—I don’t know if it’s land art, exactly, but it’s inspired by an art source,” explained Andres Solíz Paz who, with Lazbent Pavel Escobedo Amaral, is one half of Escobedo Solíz Studio, the winner of Museum of Modern Art and MoMA PS1’s 2016 Young Architects Program (YAP).
With Weaving the Courtyard, Mexico City–based Escobedo Solíz sought to create an atmosphere of overall engagement within the large space, two adjoining gravel-floored, concrete-walled courtyards that front the entrance to PS1.
The installation is comprised of a canopy, an earthwork, and a water feature that together occupy almost the entire space from above and below. YAP installations coincide with Warm Up, a summer concert series that brings DJs to the museum for all day outdoor lounging, dancing, and beer drinking. Solíz cited artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s “simple and ephemeral actions” that shape space with few materials, relying on scale and repetition to give the work its force.
A mix of resources from New York and Mexico contribute to the hybrid installation. Being in Mexico City, Solíz explained, means the studio is not as familiar with construction and materials availability in New York. Initially, he said, the studio was hoping to use natural fiber ropes dyed using non-synthetic pigments and traditional techniques. It wasn’t feasible, or sustainable, to use natural ropes imported from Mexico; they worried the ropes might not withstand a New York summer’s brutal heat and humidity.
Instead, the team is sourcing synthetic rope and intends to find a local manufacturer to dye it in the appropriate sherbet hues. Those ropes will be anchored to holes (from concrete form ties) in the walls, and overlapped to form a colorful overhead weave. The last YAP installation to mediate between sky and earth in this way was 2010’s Pole Dance by Brooklyn–based SO-IL.
Initially, Escobedo Solíz wanted to extrude the gravel that covers the surface of the courtyard for the earthworks. It would be tough on the skin, they reasoned, so gravel was substituted for finer-grained stone. The embankment in the main courtyard is graded for lounging, with a retention wall that doubles as a bench. Since 2010, the YAP has solicited entries that engage recycling, sustainability, and reuse: The modular bench, consequently, can be taken apart and recycled (or given away) when the installation wraps.
In the smaller courtyard, there’s plans for a mist nozzles to be mounted on the walls to make “an express refresh.” “We think the mist will condense to produce a powerful atmosphere,” Solíz explained. That same courtyard has a wading pool that fronts the back wall; to unify the scene, reflections from the water will create an aqueous mural on the raw concrete.
Richard Wilson, chief of installation at PS1, collaborated with the pair on the logistics of the installation during the finalist phase of the competition. Right now, the studio is finalizing those logistics, and Solíz estimates that construction will take place in early May, in time for the first Warm Up a month later.
Escobedo Solíz hopes to get up to New York for two weekends to see its installation in action. When asked what music is most compatible with Weaving the Courtyard, Solíz noted that, though Warm Up usually skews towards house and techno, he thinks ambient-electronic Boards of Canada, indie pop Saint Etienne, and (are you listening, MoMA?) dream pop The Radio Dept. would pair nicely.