March 11–14, 2010 | Marfa, TX
Our first 4-day Spring Inquiry was held in the high desert town of Marfa, in far west Texas. With mesquite, cacti, tumbleweed, pristine air and the distant Chinati and Davis mountains, Marfa has a spare and sublime atmosphere that literally suggests a site-specific creativity. The minimalist sculptor Donald Judd relocated here from New York in 1971, taking over a former military compound and setting his house in a field of gravel; the crunch underfoot was meant to raise awareness, as Judd put it, of every footfall. Many artists have followed Judd’s path, and the sleepy town now hosts a surprisingly well-stocked bookstore, several galleries, the Chinati Foundation, and some fine eating establishments. Nights are cold but as the desert warms in the sun, Judd’s 100 aluminum boxes can be heard popping on a cement floor, and the winds sweeping through town are punctuated by the occasional Amtrak train whistle.
Being in Marfa was an opportunity to explore an approach to design that is contemplative and reactive, a design that does not prescribe or impose formulas but responds to the conditions that surround it. BeingHERE challenged design as an act of premeditation, and sought instead to situate it in time and place, be it in Marfa or elsewhere.