Andrea Zittel: Wagon Station Encampment

Art21 releases the second of a two-part documentary on Andrea Zittel. In this installation she talks about wagons and “sci-fi pioneer aesthetics”.

This week we feature the second part of the Andrea Zittel feature filmed for the web-only “Exclusive” series by Art21. This episode features Andrea Zittel’s “Wagon Station Encampment”: a series of sleeping pods designed by Zittel and arranged throughout her property in Joshua Tree, California.

The wagons are the product of Zittel’s attraction to the art of living sparingly, the frontier mentality and the “idea of having to figure everything out from scratch”. We interviewed “Exclusive” producer Ian Forster who visited Zittel’s property and the wagon stations.

Art21 has a large body of films and documentaries. The series “Exclusive” started in 2008 and is now on episode 213. Why is it so popular; what’s keeping it going?

Once Art21 forms a relationship with an artist, it's for life. Artists that were first featured in our broadcast series Art21 Art in the Twenty-First Century, which premiered in 2001, continue to be documented through new filming for our Web-only series Art21 Exclusive. The series continues to grow because the artists we feature continue to ask new and provocative questions through their work. I think what attracts people to our documentaries is that they present art from an artist's unmediated perspective.

What is it about the work of Andrea Zittel that fascinated you?

What initially attracted me to Andrea Zittel's work was her interest in applying constraints to various aspects of her everyday life such as only using bowls in her kitchen and wearing the same homemade dress for months on end. I was drawn to her idea that constraints can actually provide a sense of liberation by helping you realise what is truly necessary to live a comfortable, creatively fulfilling life.

Art, design and living. In general, the three seem to be cropping up more frequently together as a theme. Why, what’s up?

Artists and designers have always looked to each other for inspiration and alternative perspectives, especially when it comes to how their work integrates into people's daily lives. I'm not sure if there is a greater influx of this happening at the moment or not. Perhaps we're just paying closer attention to something that's been going on all along.

What was filming in Joshua Tree like? And filming Zittel?

Being on Andrea's property in Joshua Tree, California, which she refers to as "A-Z West", was an immersive and at times overwhelming experience. There is so much visual information to absorb and consider because every aspect of how A-Z West is designed and used is infused with meaning. By staying overnight on the property, the crew and I were able to film throughout the day and capture the landscape and Andrea's various projects at dawn and dusk when the sky was rich with color. I hope the videos convey what a beautiful and creative environment it is.

You’ve worked for Art21 for some time. What made this project unusual?

This project is unusual because of the intimate moments we were able to capture. In the Wagon Station Encampment, we filmed Andrea's guests as they woke up in their pods, and in Andrea's home we filmed her washing dishes as her son read a book nearby. Showing these private, everyday moments helped reinforce the idea that Andrea is investigating how art and design can affect our daily lives. Art21 often films people looking at art, but we rarely ever film people living inside of it.