FORT DA // SAMPLER is a site-specific installation by Mexico City-based artist Santiago Borja. The artist and his collaborators have erected a temporary, functioning textile loom transforming the roof of architect Richard Neutra’s family home. Borja’s architectural intervention encourages new readings of this place, and what he sees as the elusive nature of “magical thinking” embedded in Modernism. The project grows from the formal similarities between modern abstract geometry and Mayan patterning used to represent the cosmos.
The installation title comes from Borja’s study of Freud’s “Fort / Da” theory, which says that the symbolic allows us to manage the discrepancies between pleasure and reality. Freud developed his theory while watching a child repeatedly throw a wooden reel attached to a string over a ledge. The child would watch it disappear, retrieve it, and then throw it back again. Freud theorized that this game was how the child managed his anxiety created by the absence of his mother. Borja takes this theory further, envisioning the act of throwing the reel as a way to trace an emotional space that visually and physically connects us to a distant place.
In Chiapas, as in other areas of Mexico, young apprentices establish their identity as textile makers through the creation of several samplers that codify the entire textile language. The process of weaving and embroidering these samplers connect them to past, present, and future textile processes, creating a dialogue with the cosmic and natural world around them.
Collaborators: Textile designer Maddalena Forcella
and El Camino de los Altos Tzotzil Textile Cooperative
ith generous support from:
Fundación/ Colección Jumex
Neutra VDL Research House II
Big City Forum