Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

Steel, Flock, Sponge, cheap plastic flowers,
180 cm x 120 cm,

As is usual this idea has been bouncing around in my head for at least a couple years. Most likely from when after 7 years of threatening the city of Barcelona finally decided to begin the project of rearranging my neighborhood. Since I arrived in Barcelona in 1999 I’ve been living in the shadow of the wrecking ball but somehow have managed to remain in this small corner of the city unscathed. Then in 2006 things started to move, at least that’s when the photo below is dated from which was the view from my front window (I have a workspace that I am extremely fortunate to have so the idea of having to leave it struck terror into the deep recesses of my being). Regardless I had an opportunity to reflect on some heavy equipment for some time. It’s impressive to see it up close tearing down walls etc. and reminded me of the fascination I had with these machines as a child. What crossed my mind at that point though was the shift in my understanding of said machines from that of a child’s understanding which is one of fascination, creation and possibility as well as responsibility, to that of an adult which recognizes them (at least in an urban environment) as the harbingers of change for better or worse. To be honest I still view cranes, front end loaders, bulldozers etc… with a certain amount of awe for the simple fact that they really are miracles of engineering.


On the other hand in the urban environment they are also the agents of metamorphosis, representatives of decisions that are normally made in other places by people who aren’t directly affected by those decisions. Barcelona has undergone unprecedented growth in the construction sector over the last twenty years, to the point that “rabid” might be an appropriate term to describe the nature of what has been going on. With the bursting of the real estate bubble this is no longer the case. Within the metropolitan habitat obviously a certain amount of change is constant and required for a variety of reasons. It’s not the idea to go too deeply into the economics and the moral repercussions of the construction boom, although it is fascinating and worthy for reflection, for the simple fact that my knowledge of it is superficial not being an economist. Needless to say there is constant change and constant shifting which has a profound impact on the individual and sometimes the collective as well. I don’t say this as a positive or negative judgment just a simple fact.

The view from my front window the 11th of August 2006

I chose to work with a front end loader (Caterpillar 950-H) for a number of reasons, but primarily because it is menacing, the architecture/design of it is all strength, aggression and masculinity. Especially the teeth on the front of the shovel and the treads on the tires. In movement it is full of a sort of awkward muscular grace (yes I know, oxymoron). I chose the surface texture for the obvious visual irony that it proposes which fuses the idealism that I had as a child and the realities exposed to me as an adult in relation to construction and the machinery used to achieve it. And hence the title which reflects on the often life changing displacements of land, architecture, families and people that these machines are fundamental in creating. For better or worse…

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