Fritz Haeg on the Animal Estates Project
Fritz Haeg works between his art, architecture and design practice Fritz Haeg Studio (though the currently preferred clients are animals), the happenings and gatherings of Sundown Salon (now Sundown Schoolhouse), the ecology initiatives of Gardenlab (including Edible Estates), and other various combinations of building, curating, dancing, designing, exhibiting, gardening, organizing, talking, teaching, and writing. His home base since 2001 is a geodesic dome in the hills of Los Angeles.
Question: What is the Animal Estates Project?
Fritz Haeg: Animal Estate, I guess this really just starting just this month with the opening of the Whitney Biennial. I have been really interested in animals since I was quite young and spend entire summers at the zoo where I grew up in Minneapolis. So, I feel on some level I have been waiting for years and years and years to do something with animals or about animals. I think that is probably true of every ones work. I think your work really grow out of - really deeply fell work growth out of interest that are probably been with your whole life in some way, you have your whole life to constantly have this pour out of relevance thousand different ways. So, when I was invited to be a part of Whitney Biennial they just specifically invited me to do a project for the front of the museum, that entering the culture court. I was up in the woods in New Hamster doing a residency at McDonald colony at that time. Sitting in my cabin alone everyday and first getting really excited about the opportunity and then of course wondering right away like what the hell I am going to do. I think their first assumption was that I do some sort of garden project and of course that doesn’t make any sense in March in New York. Typically, when I am invited to do a project, I just go right away to what I am access with that moment and at that time it was just animals, I have been think lot about animals. Actually, on top of this I have been invited to do about 6 or 7 museum commissions this year, one after the other, which is part the reason I am traveling all year, just going from place to place doing these projects. So, it is a way to make sense of all these various invitations in to and start this new series of projects this year. I decided to make them all animal estate projects. So, basically there is 9 or 8 additions of animals estates that will be happening in difference city’s around the world, each one similar in a way to the model of edible estate, in that each one will be very responsive to the place that I am in. Even though in some cases I will have never been to that city, before I start work in the project. It is a very narrow research to go in to right away and find local experts, but basically the goal of the projects is to make homes for animals that have either been displaced in the city where I am working or our good go habitants for a humans in the city’s that I will be in. So for example, in New York at the Whitney Museum the real switch in that project where I began to understand it is when I found about this project call the Manhattan Project by Eric Anderson [phonetic]. He has been researching for ten years, the history of the island of Manhattan, 400 years ago when Europeans saddlers first arrived, what it looked like, developing a really clear picture of it, meaning exactly all the flora and fauna that were here. In each regions so it can tell you what times squares look like. Or in the case of the Whitney Museum and there was a stream and it was likely a side of Beavers in Beaver pond. So, with the Whitney Museum I decided to make homes for the twelve animals that use to live on the side of the museum 400 years ago. So in that way, I am making fully functioning homes for animals that will idealistically in some way welcome them back to a place that they have been kicked out of essentially. So, it is really anchored by devoured in the courtyard and then a large eagle snap stop in that entry part it go and then whole bunch of little homes rather animals.
Recorded On: 3/10/08
The project, Haeg says, comes from his long-postponed desire to work with animals.
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