Monday, 15 August 2011

Turn On, Tune In, Drop Art


Here at M&C I enjoy watching different lines of research (alright, autistic/perverted obsessions) thread together. I found several of my preoccupations have coincided recently as architecture, counterculture, utopias, art, entropy and failure all manifest themselves in Drop City, the first of the Mid-West hippie communes.

Yes!
Originally intended as an artists colony, a group of students were inspired by the performances of Robert Rauschenberg, John Cage and Buckminster Fuller at Black Mountain College. They bought a few acres of land in Colorado and in 1965 started making Drop Art, which involved making objects, performance and happenings, all as part of a live-in environment.



They took Fuller's geodesic dome designs and constructed their own buildings from whatever scrap materials came to hand, including old car bodies. These hokey-modernist dwellings drew much attention and Drop City gained notoriety as the 60s progressed, culminating in the 1967 Joy Festival which attracted hundreds of hippies, many of whom stayed on afterwards, attracted by the artistic bohemian lifestyle. This counterculture utopia inspired many others to set up communes and alternative agrarian communities in the Mid-West and elsewhere.

'The Ultimate Painting' (I shit you not)
Eventually the dream soured due to a predictable combination of artistic and political differences, personality clashes, drugs and 'open' relationships. By 1977 Drop City was abandoned, the land sold to ranchers and the structures on the site gradually decayed until the last dome was demolished at the end of the century. Many of the original founders went on to set up other artistic communities, some of which continue today, such as the area near Taos, New Mexico.

Dome on the range
Several books have been published on this topic. If anyone has any recommendations I'd be grateful.

More information here and here

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