The Hatchery: Fortress
The Hatchery: Fortress explores the idea of fortress in a variety of non-literal, non-representational ways. The exhibition includes work dealing with social issues such as housing and homelessness, immigration policy, marginalization, climate change and drought, as well as law enforcement and budgeting policies. There will also be works which take a subjective and internal spin on the topic, such as the bolstering effects of commercial products on personal image; the walls of blithe misunderstandings which pile up around attempts at sincerity; a personal exploration of the natural world in retreat. We are also including works that connect to the local environment and history, such as a personal take on local heroes/villains and presumed train robbers whose hideout and last stand was located in Badger.
The Hatchery: Fortress exhibition will be linked to a worldwide, nearly simultaneous art event, and conceived of as an International City Tour by its founding organization, the Urban Arts and Media Organization, based in Munich, Germany (www.UAMO.info). The Hatchery was selected by UAMO for the Fortress event as the sole USA site in the tour, along with alternative venues in ten international cities, including Berlin, Amsterdam, Zurich, Athens, Sofia, Vienna, Prague, Mexico City, and Dinslaken, Germany. Two artists from the Hatchery will be chosen to have their work exhibited in UAMO's culminating City Festival in Munich in April 2016 (along with selected artists from the other cities in the tour), as well as video and photo documentation of the entire Hatchery exhibition.
The Hatchery is situated in a rural, remote environment approximately four and a half hours from both Los Angeles and the Bay Area. The property’s natural beauty is compromised by the detritus of failed human endeavor, giving it an oddly decayed urban feel. Located at Badger Creek Development/Sequoia Resort in Badger, California, in the foothills of the southern Sierra Nevada, the Hatchery is a large airplane hangar built as such and later used as a community center and school. The property was first developed by Synanon, a drug-rehab organization which was progressive in its time for its culture of racial integration, but fell into disrepute as its founder became delusional and authoritarian. The property was subsequently re-purposed as a Muslim religious community and boarding school for children from Oakland’s worst neighborhoods, but was abandoned after 9/11 amid accusations of fraud.
The current drought and the effects of pine bark beetles on the forest have devastated the area surrounding the Hatchery. Many thousands of dead ponderosa pines and incense cedars surround the property, and some have been logged. The seasonal creek and a large pond, attractive to deer, bear, wild pigs, raptors, water birds, and songbirds, has dried up. This summer, the Rough Fire in Sierra and Sequoia National Forests and Kings Canyon National Park burned over 150,000 acres and came to within a few miles of the Hatchery.
The curatorial team is preparing for the strong possibility of El Niño rainstorms during the event. Combined with the dilapidated state of the buildings, this weather could mean drips and streams of rainwater, shallow puddles spreading throughout the building, and cold drafts through broken windows, missing doorways, and collapsed walls. The curators relish the potential for such an incursion of weather to enhance the site's besieged and ruined ambience, and are planning too have a fire in the enormous fireplace, fueled in part with trashed wooden furniture collected for this purpose.