Erosión (noun, feminine) explores the construct and manipulation of gender binaries through classifications of form and function, as inspired by the concept of the garden paver.
The act of paving is historically tied to Roman colonialism. Exploiting slave labor, pavers were used as a utility to create an infrastructure for battle. By their very nature, pavers create a tensioned relationship with the natural landscape. Land is appropriated and manipulated to conform to an imposed order. This seemingly violent tension is visually revealed around the boundaries of these hefty modules where displaced earth is suppressed below and between the weighted forms. Within this historical context, the act of paving is described as a form of masculine dominance over the earth.
On the contrary, as a controversial gender construct itself, the earth — under the classification of “Mother Nature” has been prescribed a feminine identity through associations of fertility and organic, curved, formations. This canonical relation presents social issues of oppression and power as both women and nature are categorized as vulnerable, exploitable, and manipulable.
Regarding function, feminine associations of ornamentation are linked to the foundations of domesticity. The birth of Modernism heightened these gender-based classifications, dismissing the use of ornamentation as “feminine”. Additions such as curtains and other decor that “softened” the rigidity of modern architecture were criticized as superficial.
The proposed installation investigates a reversal of power as assumed by gender binaries. Inspired by the act of erosion, “mother nature’s” powerful force to sculpt and control “her” formations, the work installation aims to restore the pavers’ tensioned relationship with the earth.
Working in the unforgiving medium of concrete, the rigid massing of traditional square paver design is carved to create organic reveals inspired by topographical land formations - eroding the concrete. Each paver form was created using layers of recycled cardboard, hand-cut, and stacked to create a terrain. A thin membrane of plastic was draped onto the forms prior to pouring, which allowed the concrete to set in these pillowy-, hammock-like edges that cured as plush contours - contradicting the rigidity of the material. The black hue of the pavers represents power and depth. Absorbing all light, all color, and all heat - it represents a dominant force.
As a gesture of healing, moss - one of the most resilient living organisms found in nature- was used to stitch together the contours and to mend the earth.