When the team of artist Adrián Villar Rojas moved into a studio in a former brick factory outside the Argentine city of Rosario, they found there a large number of nests of the Hornero bird. It is precisely these nests which give the small South American bird its renown. Their structures, built from mud, copy wonderfully well the ancient mud ovens that were vitally important for the early agricultural population in Argentina, Southern Brazil and Uruguay. Each nest is an impressive architectural feat of thick, strong walls built on a floor of branches. As its base of operations, the Hornero always looks for a structure created by human beings. Streetlamp, electricity or telephone poles, but also facades of houses, churches or office buildings are occupied. The birds are thus regarded as ´synanthropic´: animals that take advantage of the human habitat in order to assure their own continued existence.
Villar Rojas sees his own artistic practice crystallised in the Hornero, since his work explores the notion of the Anthropocene, the age in which the impact of man upon nature is decisive. After the discovery of the nests, Villar Rojas´ team integrated them into their investigation. They repaired and restored abandoned nests by imitating the construction technique of the Hornero using mud, twigs, clay, saliva and other materials. The installation of the assembled nests outside their territory creates a coexistence between this Argentine bird species and the flora, fauna and architecture of other environments. For Beaufort and the Triennial of Bruges, Villar Rojas´ team distributed around eighty nests throughout Zeebrugge and the more urban Bruges.
"I cannot speak about my artistic practice as ´making works of art", says Villar Rojas. "I think that there is only a single overarching project, one that will last my entire life. This project starts from the question ´What can survive? What doesn´t leave any traces behind?´ Paradoxically enough it is the case that, to make my work, I spread material all over the world". As far as these nests are concerned, nature will decide whether they will still be present after the exhibition.
In collaboration with Triennial Bruges.