Architecture of Desertion
A photograph from Marjan Teeuwen's "Destroyed Houses" series. Photo by the artist.
Despite the mad dash to urbanize many parts of the world—particularly in countries with burgeoning populations—other regions suffer the consequences of languishing economies, as seen in the documented efforts of the Shrinking Cities project. Buildings that are abandoned in such circumstances are often left to ruin, with the rare intervention conducted by artists such as Gordon Matta-Clark—who transformed abject architectural sites in the 1970s into immersive sculptures through surgical cuts and punctures.
Dutch artist Marjan Teeuwen offers another perspective on deserted architecture. Employing a much heavier hand than Matta-Clark, Teeuwen not only carves into abandoned structures, but also utilizes discarded detritus as a new surfacing material. In an uncanny combination of building reconstruction/reinterpretation and assemblage art, Teeuwen challenges us not only to consider spaces of neglect, but also the products and materials that occupied these spaces prior to their abandonment.
In her thoughtful reconstructions, Teeuwen demonstrates the value latent within discarded structures and the materials they contain. According to Rotterdam curator Cokkie Snoei, “Teeuwen’s work is in the constructive power of the building hand in hand with the power of destruction and decay, sublimated in a precarious balance."