Meteorit “El Taco”, 2010, edition of 7 + 2 A/P, variable media and size.
In 2006, Guillermo Faivovich (b.1977) and Nicolás Goldberg (b.1978) began collaborating on A Guide to Campo del Cielo, an ongoing project that revolves around researching the cultural impact of the Campo del Cielo meteorites by studying, reconstructing, and reinterpreting their visual, oral, and written history, aiming to identify it’s historical and contemporary problematics. In 2007, they conceived a 3D stamp depicting the 37-ton “El Chaco”, second largest meteorite on Earth, which was issued by Argentina’s Postal Service. In 2010, the Faivovich & Goldberg exhibition Meteorit „El Taco” was held at Portikus, Frankfurt, where the two main masses of El Taco were reunited, after almost forty-five years of being apart. On occasion of this exhibition, the book The Campo del Cielo Meteorites –Vol 1: El Taco, was edited by dOCUMENTA (13) and Hatje Cantz, including a foreword by Daniel Birnbaum and Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev. In 2011, the artists participated in the spring lecture series in the MIT program in Art, Culture and Technology “Collision 2: When Artistic and Scientific Research meet”, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and are currently developing a future stage of their project for dOCUMENTA (13), that will be held in Kassel, Germany, during the summer of 2012.
Faivovich & Goldberg live and work in Buenos Aires.
(or how to join two rocks that fell from the sky)
The research model proposed by A Guide to Campo del Cielo can be seen as a meteorite shower in reverse. In a vast and scantly studied field, different components are unburied. Each stone is a piece of information that heats up as it comes into friction with new air, as the components of the research are no longer the exclusive domain of tight, isolated categories, be they rooted in Science or History, the myths of the meteorite hunters or sacred rocks that turned into the commemorative pistols of a nascent State. Instead, they form part of a single constellation that takes shape by means of a complex technique –institutional engineering– to give rise to a simple yet remarkable gesture. The fragments of the iron rain join together to fashion a single asteroid launched into outer space, an asteroid that enjoys a new perspective, a new morphology, texture and color. The binding element is contemporary art.
Still from the perspective of art, though with less metaphor, the project that Guillermo Faivovich and Nicolás Goldberg began working on five years ago can be understood in terms of artistic research as their mode of practice. Without forcing matters, the steps to analyze their project can be seen as derived from science. Those steps consist of: 1. Defining the object, 2. Grasping the methodology, 3. Assessing the results.
1. Campo del Cielo
The initial motivation that led Faivovich and Goldberg to their object of research goes back to childhood, to a world enlightened by popular science: Cosmos by Carl Sagan, 2001: A Space Odyssey by Stanley Kubrick and visits to the Buenos Aires Planetarium, a building shaped as a space ship that awakens the imagination, greeting the visitor with three extraterrestrial rocks.
One simple short cut to approach the chosen object is its timeline. 4.568 millions years ago, shortly after the birth of our Solar System, the gravitational force of Jupiter kept a new planet from coming together, between itself and Mars. Their components cooled down and, in fragments, were doomed to orbit endlessly, becoming what is known as the invisible planet or the Asteroid Belt. 4.553 millions years later, a possible collision of bodies caused a fragment to come off from one of those asteroids, to leave its orbit and, after traveling some 15 million years, to run into Earth about 4,000 years ago. The friction with the atmosphere caused the bolide to shatter into a thousand pieces, falling as a meteorite shower on southern Chaco. The region was called Pigüem Nonraltá –or Field of the Sky in the Guaycurú language– by its original inhabitants. 3.600 years later, the Spanish sent expeditions to investigate this strange arid territory full of almost pure iron. They dug ditches looking for underground mineral beds until, in 1803, the rumor that the iron had fallen from the sky was scientifically confirmed.
In 1962, a rural worker discovered El Taco, a 1,988-kilogram meteorite that was collected by a joint North American-Argentine expedition. One year later, El Taco was shipped to the United States, a scientific empire in the midst of the Space Race. In 1965, the meteorite was sent to Germany to be incised for scientific reasons. The resulting halves were then divided up and, for over forty years, lived separately in very dissimilar habitats of preservation.
2. Institutional Engineering
Faivovich and Goldberg began working at the epicenter of the phenomenon, in the Pigüem Nonraltá provincial park. Their efforts took on a national scale as they worked to convince the Argentine State to issue a stamp with an image of the 37,000-kilogram mass El Chaco, the first 3D stamp ever issued in Latin America. From Argentine heritage policy, they turned to a much more ambitious goal involving the joint efforts of major international organizations on the basis of the requirements of the Smithsonian, attempting to do the unthinkable: join the two halves of El Taco which at this point belonged to two different governments –the North American and Argentine– in a neutral place: Portikus, Frankfurt. That goal meant orchestrating the joint amongst those institutions and later shipping of the meteorite in the specific context of the Argentine Bicentennial, an anniversary that coincided with Argentina being the guest of honor at the Frankfurt Book Fair. All of this demanded great precision and demonstrated that institutional engineering entails much more than lobbying; it means orchestrating a coherent artistic composition between the necessary institutions and a specific context so that a complex joint effort might yield a powerful poetic action.
The reunification of El Taco was accompanied by a parallel process, that lead to the publication of the book The Campo del Cielo Meteorites – Vol. 1: El Taco. Thus, these pieces revealed the methodologies employed by the artists: artistic research as a practice, based on gathering, verifying and editing the existing documentation and producing unprecedented data in different media, potentially exploited by scientific, historical or cultural fields; and institutional engineering as a compositional technique, focused on the assemblage of institutions within a specific context in order to achieve a precise act.
The new meaning that the project produces is never hermetic and can nourish scientific, historical and use artistic perspectives, while also inciting the interest of a stamp collector or an inhabitant of Chaco who attends the National Meteorite Celebration.
As a follower of A Guide to Campo del Cielo, my perspective combines Art, Science, North American imperialism during the Cold War and comparative heritage policies, which can be summed up in a specific moment:
Portikus, Frankfurt. 10/23/10. The distance between the halves is determined by the context: they must be at least 60 cm. apart to keep the floor from collapsing. I ask Tim McCoy, a visitor to the exhibition and curator of Smithsonian’s Division of Meteorites, which half he liked best.
Squatting, he places his hand on the shiny and polished inside of the 895.80-kilogram Teil II, the half that had been neglected and protected from rusting for more the forty years in the Smithsonian’s warehouses in Washington. “This half shows what a meteorite looks like in space.” He then turns his head. “This one shows what it’s like after having fallen to Earth,” he says, placing his hand on the opaque and rusty 667.85-kilogram Teil IV, the half that was laid down under the stars in the gardens of the Buenos Aires Planetarium. “Only together can they tell the story of El Taco; a peculiar story that sheds light on our Solar System.”
The Campo del Cielo Meteorites, Vol. I, EL TACO
Presentación libro EL TACO.
Presentación libro EL TACO.
Presentación libro EL TACO