Hortus Conclusus

“The first man who having fenced in a piece of land said ‘This is mine’ and found people simple enough to believe him was the true founder of civil society.”

Jean-Jacques Rousseau, On the Origin of the Inequality of Mankind, The Second Part (1755)

(text inscribed on installed sign)

Hortus Conclusus was a roadside monument mounted in the backyard of a former hardware store in Marfa, Texas and positioned 6 feet from a public highway leading to an intersection. The piece was made on-site over a 6-day period in June, 2013 from local dirt, water, paint and paper. The adobe bricks were compacted from the soil dug out to form the hollow in front of the structure, which was later painted blue. In medieval iconography the Hortus Conclusus is the mystical garden of the mother goddess modeled on the womb. As the piece is literally turned in upon itself in spatial terms, the enclosed garden becomes a figurative expression of inviolable spirituality/a sacred space open to all posited against the seizure of the commons through private enclosure. The rest of the passage from Rousseau reads:

 “What crimes, wars, murders, what miseries and horrors would the human race have been spared, had someone pulled up the stakes or filled in the ditch and cried out to his fellow men: “Do not listen to this imposter. You are lost if you forget that the fruits of the earth belong to all and the earth to no one!”

HORTUS CONCLUSUS: installation, Fieldwork Studio by TAAK, Marfa, Texas, USA, May 20-June 10, 2013.

Photography: T. Tegelaers, R. Noorda, P. Oltheten