Marco Fedele di Catrano

The Poet’s Garden

Exhibition: 5 June – 11 July 2015


“In order to remove or shred files permanently from your system, you have to use a program that is capable of rewriting the files with random series of binary data multiple times. This process is often called shredding. That way, the actual content of the file has been overwritten and the possibilities to recover such a shredded file are mostly theoretical.” [1]

The description of this so-called file shredder software reveals how our confidential digital data can be destroyed. In order to do so, a program is implemented that does not delete the data, but rather, overwrites it. As a result of this process, the data cannot be recovered, but fully erasing our traces on the internet or on a computer is thus an illusion.

Recognizing that this structure cannot be made to fully vanish, Marco Fedele di Catrano superimposes multiple layers of found space upon one another. The former tab divider fabrication shop acts as a hermetic, empty vessel; once again we find ourselves in the middle of an experimental assemblage. He employs a precise selection of built elements to visualize the implosion of our illusion that data matter and antimatter can disappear.

The copy machines print 1 copy/per minute, the file shredders can be activated by visitors to the exhibition. The reproduction and the destruction of the structure is thus recorded ad absurdum in analog form. Just as digital data cannot be obliterated, neither can this material.

A conduit made of Eternit and a pipeline, as an element, are copied, photographed, reproduced, and ostensibly destroyed. However, rather than becoming more and more empty, the space is continually filled with new material that becomes part of a landscape.

The Poet’s Garden and objects composed of Eternit have been juxtaposed previously in a  historical context; on the occasion of the G59 (the 1st Swiss Horticulture Exhibition in 1959), furniture designer Willy Guhl presented the beach chair made of Eternit that is considered a design classic today. Within view of Guhl’s chair, the landscape architect Ernst Cramer displayed his Poet’s Garden, a seminal moment in modern landscape gardening: a geometrically ordered garden with artificially constructed pyramids. Both these innovations met with different fates. The Poet’s Garden shocked the public and was disassembled immediately after the conclusion of the exhibition, while Eternit became a commercial success in the building industry; only decades later did its harmful qualities and their effects on people and the environment unfold into the respective human and eco-political dramas.

The minimalist installation could represent a labor that eventually dissolves into the landscape. However, it can also be a 1:1 model of a parallel reality, uncoupled from time and context. Marco Fedele di Catrano has developed an artistic statement out of the existing spatial conditions and his personal research. This intervention is another instance of the subtle and precise selection and combination of elements and mechanized mass-production he employs to transgress architectonic space, in order to engage with political and societal issues.