Bosco Sodi unveils colossal ‘city of cubes’ on the Oaxacan coast

Bosco Sodi unveils colossal ‘city of cubes’ on the Oaxacan coast

A monumental land art installation takes shape in a largely uninhabited area of the artist’s native Mexico

Artists have long tried to draw a connection between our physical plane and the enigmatic beyond. A new land art work by Bosco Sodi is perhaps among the most ambitious endeavours yet – if not the most colossal. The Mexican artist has erected a 700-tonne ‘city of cubes’ along Oaxaca’s shoreline, adjacent to the Tadao Ando-designed Casa Wabi (the foundation and studio established by Sodi).

Numerical data is by no means a measure of an artwork, though Sodi’s minimalist Atlantes is a pleasing intertwining of art and mathematics. Each of the 64, two sq m cube comprises 1,600 brick ‘timbers’ handmade by Sodi and a team of local craftsmen in a traditional rustic kiln with wood, coconut shells, and jacaranda seeds. There are a total of 102,400 terracotta-hued pieces, fired in 40 batches over nearly 1,000 hours and arranged in a gridded formation.

‘The many points of contact it creates between earth and sky suggests that the heavens are so heavy the weight must be distributed,’ notes Noguchi Museum curator Dakin Hart of the installation. ‘And that human ingenuity can replace divine heroics, but not without great effort.’ Its sheer scale is a spectacle in itself – the rugged Oaxacan landscape notwithstanding – alluding to the Greek myth of Atlas, condemned to hold up the sky for eternity at the ends of the earth.

A canvas for the shifting light during the day, Sodi’s perspective-bending pavilion may not prove as immortal as the titular Titan. The structure will weather over time, tracing ‘a sense of the land’s entropy through erosion and the flora and fauna that will eventually dwell in its corridors. Each of the 614,400 brick faces will slowly succumb to the mountains, desert and ocean that frame the artwork; the fate of Atlantes hanging in equilibrium. §

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