SB MFA Alumnus and Joan Mitchell Fellow Luis Fernando Ramirez Celis is now curator of the Museo de Arte del Banco de la República in Bogotá, Colombia, continues to make sculpture based on architectural history, and is teaching art and architecture. He had a residency this year at the Banff Centre in Canada, and was invited to participate in the Cartagena Bienale, where he showed the piece described and illustrated below.
Walden 13 is a synthetic beehive panel hung from the ceiling and built on the geometry of a housing complex called Walden 7, designed by the architect Ricard Bofill in Catalonia, Spain. Each of the plastic cells is filled with honey and sealed on the edges with beeswax; bees are allowed access to the honey. In the seventies this complex proposed an alternative to the rational housing blocks that were in their heyday. It was a utopic architectural proposal that hoped to condition the behavior of the residents in favor of the common good. Walden 13 continues the saga begun in literature by Henry David Thoreau’s Walden; or, Life in the Woods, followed by B. F. Skinner’s Walden Two, the novel that inspired Bofill’s design for Walden 7.
The uninhabited apiary architecture of Walden 13 is filled with honey— a treasure accumulated in the plastic cells—waiting to be discovered and put to use. Similarly, the modern architecture it is meant to represent contains in its structure utopic ideas waiting to be harvested and used, like the honey in Walden 13. A multidisciplinary artist, Ramírez studied architecture and works with photography, drawing, video, models, installations, and popular music. He believes that the spirit of modern architecture refuses to go away entirely. Through images, fictions, and cultural hybrids, his work reflects on the possible significance of surviving modernity—hybridized, contaminated,
and longed for.