Friday, October 17, 2008

Christopher Robbins: Albatross House

"I'd like there to be a story about a man who built a birdhouse big enough for him to sleep in, and dragged it to the ocean. And I want that story to be true."
This was the inspiration behind one of the most intriguing shedlike atmospheres that's ever been sent to Shedworking: Christopher Robbins staged what he calls an "undercover collaborative performance" in Marquette, Nebraska, by taking a rusty old railway cart and building a birdhouse from recycled barn wood on top. His aim? To drag it all along the Oregon Pioneer Trail to the sea. Sadly he got stopped three days later by a Sheriff who asked him to desist. Here's what he says about the project which he undertook while Artist in Residence at the Nebraska Art Farm:
"Along the way, I ate and slept in that birdhouse, and ran into a number of difficulties, and involved a lot of people. I had constructed the birdhouse so that I could barely manage it alone, and so I often required the help of strangers to keep me on my way. My first day on the road the birdhouse toppled into a 6-foot ditch on the side of the road, and I required a nearby farmers' tractor to rescue it. The smallest puddle or incline forced me to flag down passing trucks for help pushing the birdhouse.

Sometimes (but not always) I was asked to explain why I was pushing this birdhouse, and, not willing to spoil the illusion of the experience by writing it off as "art," I explained how I had put every icon for freedom I could think of - birds, life on the road, the pioneers - into this one craft. I was doing this for freedom!"
(Photograph by Ed Dadey, Director of Art Farm Nebraska)

There are lots more photos at Christopher's Flickr site and a video of the birdhouse in the ditch incident which is well worth a look.