Forestiere Underground Garden, 2007

Fresno, California, 2007

2×20 synchronised colour images from above and within the Forestiere subterranean garden, synchronised field recordings, 2 sets of active stereo speakers, 2 flat screen monitors, and cables. Installation dimensions variable.

Foresteire Underground Garden is an artwork in which several parallel situations are explored. Ursula Nistrup travelled to Fresno, California to visit a peculiar American dwelling that has existed unabashed and without pretence for over a hundred years. The Foresteire Underground Gardens are the creation of Mr. Foresteire, a Sicilian immigrant farmer who came to California at the start of the last century. After unsuccessfully attempting to farm the Fresno soil, he began, with considerable enterprise, digging tunnels into the ground and breaking the sub soil’s sedimentary rock formation, using its material to create improvisational arches, reminiscent of catacombs, in a 12th-century Italian style. He eventually produced a labyrinthine dwelling that is host to a series of gardens above and below the ground. Ursula Nistrup proceeded to both photograph and make audio recordings of the situational phenomena to be found both below and above ground in these gardens. By employing a formal process of establishing a vertical line through two points, above and below the ground, acoustic and aesthetic situations are processed as parallel situations occurring within the gardens. As an extension of this capturing process, pictures capture the perceptual surface, by means of the evidential function of the camera, and one can hear the birds and fast moving automobiles in the nearby highway, which is the main road accessing the system of passages the Italian immigrant has left us. Originally the Foresteire Underground Garden was conceived to be a hotel; one can argue that the barrier between the surface and underground primarily is economic, as well as socio architectonic…
Extract from PARALLELISM.

Text by Claus Ratcliffe Pedersen, a sociologist living and working in Copenhagen.