I arrived back to Ireland yesterday after my residency at Andrea Zittel’s A – Z West. What an amazing experience.
Some information about A – Z Wagon Station Encampment:
A-Z West is located on over fifty acres in the California high desert next to Joshua Tree National Park. Since it’s inception in fall 2000, A-Z West has been undergoing an ongoing conversion into a testing grounds for living, in which spaces, objects and acts of living all intertwine as a single ongoing investigation into what it means to exist and participate in our culture today. “How to live?” and “What gives life meaning?” are core issues in both Zittel’s personal life and artistic practice. Answering these questions has entailed the complex relationships between our needs for freedom, security, autonomy, authority, and control, observing how structure and limitations often have the capacity to generate feelings of freedom beyond open-ended choices.
The sitting room area where we had campfire’s at night
A – Z West opens twice a year for 12 residence – artists, writers, creatives, etc. I really enjoyed my time there, everyone was so nice and we all got on great together. It was my first real experience of communal living. Every morning we all met at 10 am, including Andrea, for an hour of ‘power’, where we would accomplish a task. It was crazy to see how much could get done by so many people in one hour – many hands make light work I guess! My daily routine at A – Z West really depended on day light as there wasn’t any electricity. I got up around 7 am went for a morning hike, had an outdoor shower (that was surprisingly lovely), 10 am was ‘Power Hour’, from 11 am on wards I could do what I wanted (I explored the area, checked out different outdoor museums, high desert test sites, hiked in the Joshua Tree National Park). It got dark around 6.30 pm, we would all have dinner and then chat by the campfire. Some days it was nice to just hang out in your wagon station, read your book or do some sketching.
A group photo. A – Z Fall 2016 encampment – First session.
Communal life was like a social experiment for me – seeing how we all got on together and how we were interacting with each other. It was so interesting to hear everyone’s story. At approximately 2,700 feet above sea level, Joshua Tree and its surrounding communities are located in the California High Desert. The high desert landscape is harsh and beautiful at the same time. I feel so grateful for my residency at A – Z West, definitely a trip of a life time.
For more information click here.