The Remote is both a tangible and imaginary space that lures us from our hectic lives and contested contexts into other, more distant worlds. Few terrains embody this sirens’ call more than the American Desert whose majestic and beguiling frontiers were described by Reyner Banham as an evocative combination of “elation and bewilderment.”
For Donald Judd, one of the most architecturally influential artists of the twentieth century, the remote desert region was more than a tourist stop, site to survey, or exotic curiosity. Judd leveraged the expansive Trans-Pecos region of the Chihuahuan Desert to fuse art, architecture and landscape into permanent configurations that meld together different worlds: in his case the distant art world of New York with the rough and tumble realities of Marfa, Texas – perhaps the quintessential remote. Judd once said, “Marfa is two six packs from El Paso” – a joke perhaps – but also effectively placing his work and experience within a unique and contemporary measure of time, space and culture.
The Fall 2017 ACSA Conference, Crossings between the Proximate and Remote, embraces these observations and welcomes an expansion and meditation on them. We, as architects and artists, are increasingly compelled to cross the boundaries of our disciplinary practices with other practices, perceptions and realities. As such, the Conference purposefullyalludes to Cormac McCarthy’s writings about this landscape, which like Judd’s work, unexpectedly link bodies of knowledge and experience into a virtuoso artistic synthesis.
Thus, the Conference seeks to situate architecture elsewhere – between the literal and evocative spaces of the proximate and the remote – geographically or disciplinarily. Located an hour from the Mexico-US border, the conference challenges any singular cultural legibility. Presentations will articulate the confluence of spaces that architects and others negotiate in the multivalent ways we cross boundaries, engage extreme conditions and bridge divergent realities and practices. What are the ways that we negotiate the proximate and remote? How can our contributions be shaped by our own journeys between them?