Bruni/Babarit, the French odd couple of site-specific earth art, are currently exhibiting their most recent tour de force in Fert?-Bernard, France. Gilles Bruni and Marc Babarit are artistic partners with a unique motivation and a stunning execution. The current exhibition, entitled The Abandoned Building, challenges the viewer to adopt a new perspective on the seeming meaninglessness of abandoned spaces.
The artists lay out two primary aspects of the work: architecture and ecology. The building itself is full of empty space and surrounded by fallow land; its historical function has faded. But the architecture takes on new meaning as vegetation is ushered in by neglect.
Bruni and Babarit explore the ecology of place, aiming to restore the house and its surroundings by giving them currency. An abandoned place is not a poor place or a waiting place, not a “non-place,” they say, it is ?a place without a defined status, but a place that nevertheless exists.? The structure has come to support and cohabitate with the tree branches that enter and exit through its open windows, traversing the rooms alongside ceiling beams. The contrast of vacant space and organic forms gives the building sculptural qualities.
The artists have worked to ?cultivate a waste land, allowing it to be seen in another light, like an unusual garden; to know how to leave a place to its natural systems, which find space to flourish there?an ecological niche?that is necessarily transitory because it evolves.? Bruni and Babarit have given validity to a valueless place not by adding something on, but by revealing what already existed.