The Dryland Motel Lobby Lab
Haut-Valais (Switzerland) – Amboy (Mojave desert California)
by ROSANNA ALBERTINI
Head and feet in the dust. Clean air. Only a few clouds draw convergent lines in the sky, the tails of the airplanes. Dust and dryness quickly split the gray matter of my brain disjointing the mind from my physical person: the crust of the earth is salty, whitish. Apparently no other animals around except my husband and me, two bipeds with no wings. In the distance, undulations that are hard to call mountains. We walk on a crackling dry lake where the only shells are blue wrappers of bullets, signs of human presence along with shards of glass, and a glove already fossilized by dust. The earth is here, unfamiliar as the moonscape could be. We walk toward the black mouth of a volcano looking down, more shells, the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center is not far, unexploded projectiles could be on the ground. Not even a bush of creosote, no phainopeplas nor mockingbirds singing -or speaking?- a small dictionary of bird songs; only a few tumbleweeds. Tumbleweeds are angry clouds tangled in branches that Zeus threw down from the sky in a moment of rage. Gods are moody.
I’m stretching a mental feeling of dryness as if we had become ghosts, pointless combinations of minerals and bacteria with no identity and no history.
Emptiness. Things look far but they are not. The road is visible, so is her crossing with the railroad. A long white train arrives, the horizon gets in motion, white dashes run toward the right. Road and railroad become a white acute angle pointed to a small group of houses: Amboy. Are there ghosts there? We are, say the locals, “The Ghost Town That Ain’t Dead Yet.”
The ROY Motel on Route 66 was certainly alive before it died at least twice. The six cabins were empty, open mouths and broken windows, until ghosts from Switzerland arrived, painted them white and filled them with a surprising art project.
DRYLAND MOTEL LOBBY LAB: MATZA Amboy, open from September 2015 to February 2016
N 34º 33.64’ ― W 115º 44.70’
A group of artists, urbanists and architects from Switzerland’s glaciers, lakes, and rainy valleys brought to Amboy their humid minds inquiring about the desert’s climate, inventing various ways to import real and imaginary springs of water.
Participants: Ariane Arlotti – artist, Séverin Guelpa – artist, Valentin Kunik – architect, Jérôme Massard – artist, Guillaume de Morsier – architect, Matthias Solenthaler – urbaniste et Marie Velardi – artist.