Urbanature ™
In 2000, the Vrije-Richting Dept. of the GRA was approached and ‘commissioned’ to contribute ideas, concepts and art-pieces (alas, pre-destined never to be accepted; we got a nice, cheap trip to Berlin out of it, though; great city) to the committee in charge of renovating the Wibautstraat area in Amsterdam. My research and subsequent work on the subject took me in the direction of thinking about the concept of cities, and urban surroundings in general; as it sometimes happens, this particular assignment was a strong influence on all future works and my thought process in general.
For, you see, my conclusion at the end of much philosophizing, was that cities are living, breathing, conscious organisms who are every bit as natural and a part of nature as any ocean, jungle or desert are; that if we listen, City will talk to us and lead us to where we need to be; that it is not people who control the city, but City itself who guides the people inhabiting it to do what needs to be done in order for them both to survive, and for that end will attract certain individuals and repulse others; that the relationship between the city and inhabitant is a symbiotic one, where both organisms (City and human) need eachother to live, prosper, and evolve.
I will not go deeper into these notions (indeed, by now – convictions), except to say that the main change to my work, after these realizations, was to start relying on City to supply me with materials for my pieces. Where in the past the case would have been me saying “I need X” and going to buy X, now it’s me telling City “I need wood” and, soon enough, the city gives me it; or, in most cases, City telling me “Here’s some X (or Y, or Z, or ?. It doesn’t really matter anymore) for you, see if you can make something of it”. You can imagine that the latter allowed me to totally discard any pre-existing plans and sketches, and work on a much freer, more improvisational level based on what I find in the streets and junk-shops or simply don’t need anymore, and accumulate in my studio – combined, at times, with some mental-image starting point or another. The by-products of urban humanity’s existence are, for urbanature and the urbanaturalist what leaves, rocks, tree stumps, branches etc. are to a forest and Andy Goldsworthy… and, infact, just as biodegradable in their own way.
Which, by default, translates into the theme for this exhibition; giving the remnants of urbanature and/or society a new lease on life, a renewed reason for existing, until the piece inevitably dies again and is – once more – reprocessed into something befitting its new state. In a world where it sometimes feels like everything has been said and done a million million times, one can’t help but recycle; ideas, words, actions, thoughts, feelings, philosophies, emotions, memories, statements… and certainly materials, influences, culture, life-ingredients. Hopefully, one can somehow inject a modicum of individuality and – dare I say it – originality, into this endless reprocessing of everything, that constitutes life in the early 21st century.

Look maw, no blueprint!

>>> Guy Bahir <<<
January 2003
Haarlem, Holland.