ART-O-RAMA, Marseilles
25th – 27th August 2017

For its second participation in ART-O-RAMA, Marseille, ChertLüdde presented a solo project by Spanish artist Alvaro Urbano, titled Utopias are for Birds.

Based on a series of utopian projects, the artist produced bird houses following original architectural and housing ideas. Urbano started several years ago to research a variety of blueprints and designs, economically and structurally unfeasible and therefore impossible to realise. He used these impossible ideas as a base for the production of his bird nests – sculptures and drawings/collages which brings together architectonical sketches and birds collections. 

The different birds’ houses presented at ART-O-RAMA 2017 are the reproductions of drawings and sketches by architects such as Claude-Nicolas Ledoux, Yona Friedman, John Hejduk, and the radical architecture firm SuperStudio. 

The oldest projects reproduced by Urbano are Claude Nicolas Ledoux’s Maison des Directeur de la Loue (1799) and House of a Woodsman (1804) and they represent the starting point and the main reference of the whole project. One of the most famous project by Claude Nicolas Ledoux, Projet de Maison de Gardes Agricoles, 1792, seems to refer to Hieronymus Bosch’s utopian/surreal representation in The Garden of Earthly Delights, 1490-1505, one of the most representative image of all times, created in the same period and cultural contest of Thomas More’s Utopia (1516).

Unfolding from these ideas (beginning with Plato’s Ideal City and its philosophical development) countless of artists, architects, writers and intellectuals alike filled the potentially infinite imaginary of the “utopia”, up to the present day.

Inspired as much from its cultural premises as by its physical presence, Urbano tried to combine this production of human’s imagination with the idillic metaphor of birds’ wild life and freedom of movement. Consequently, the birds become actors and yet “performers” in the piece.

The displayed sculptures-nests are made for outdoor environments and they are intended to be hanged high up in the trees, providing shelters and homes for the birds. 

The diorama collages and the wallpaper completed the presentation. These are the visual translation of architectural drawings that are cut off from the artist collection of architecture books, assembled with birds photos-illustrations, as well cut off from his collection of books on this theme. The diorama collages suggest a fictional tridimensional format, again referring to the idea of building, space and its possible inhabitants.

Alvaro Urbano, “Utopias are for Birds: Claude Nicolas Ledoux, Maison des Directeur de la Loue (1799)”, 2017, wood, paint,  20 × 41 × 50 cm

Alvaro Urbano, “Utopias are for Birds: Claude Nicolas Ledoux, Projet d’atelier des Charbonniers (1804)”, 2017. wood, paint, 35 × 29 × 35 cm

Alvaro Urbano, “Utopias are for Birds (Grey-headed Woodpecker meets Peter Eisenman and Coop Himmelblau) 2017, cut out of books, paper, cotton paper, artificial leafs, foam 60 × 43 × 4.5 cm
Alvaro Urbano, “Utopias are for Birds (Wrynecks meet Eilfried Huth und Günther Domenig)”, 2017, cut out of books, paper, cotton paper, artificial leafs, foam, 42 × 29.7 × 4.5 cm