Rising from the lush greenery and rolling dunes stands the monolithic concrete walls of the ambitious new artist residency project Casa Wabi in Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca.Molded from the Japanese concept of wabi-sabi that seeks to find beauty in imperfection and the profundity of nature, Casa Wabi is the brainchild of artist Bosco Sodi, and it boasts the architecture of 1995 Pritzker Prize recipient Tadao Ando. Architecturally the residency claims a sculpture garden, multi-use community space, six bungalow style residences for visiting artists and two studio spaces, all residing within a compound that opens directly onto a stunning and private beach.
Focusing on emerging artists and their practices, the residency requires that visiting artists develop projects that involve and engage with the local community, and derive inspiration from the nearly untouched and undeveloped landscape. Additionally, during their time in residence, artists are asked to keep a journal of their time and the development of their projects in order to build an ongoing and growing project archive.
Casa Wabi has received its fair share of international hype. It was the subject of a recent Wall Street Journal article, and rumors circulated of guests such as Bono and Mexico’s president Peña Nieto at its inaugural party. Located in an area that has one of the highest poverty rates in the country, and literally off the beaten path behind its own massive walls, Casa Wabi has a long road in bridging the gap between the local community and the flashy international art world.
However, there is a general air of positivity surrounding the project, and local residents of the town have contributed greatly to its construction and inaugural success. Casa Wabi is, without a doubt, an ideal and idyllic residency program that supports artists and their practices in a location that literally defines paradise.
by Leslie Moody Castro