Dsn 546: Black Contemporary

Black's Heritage Seed Farm 

Black's Heritage Seed Farm 

Over the course of a semester long studio, through diverse platforms of exhibitions, inquiries, conversations, dinners, debates, publications, interfaces and atmospheres, students re-considered the space of the family farm and the way it is framed, expressed and understood. It is our assertion that artist, architects and farmers can play a critical role in the production of the seen and un-seen –  spaces made and re-made. We seek to demonstrate that such performative platforms of production can play a crucial role in the re-occupation and re-configuration of the Midwestern landscape.

The space of Iowa has been reinvented in the twenty-first century as a reflection of the modern rationality of capital production. Communities in Iowa continuously adapt to changes in agricultural production processes. Since the start of industrialization of farming in the nineteenth century, this production process was lead by family farmers–a form of farming in which labor is supplied primarily by family members on small holdings. The family farm is an important social symbol for Iowans. This symbol represents several ideals the foremost of which are the importance of family and the independence of the family unit. These ideals are greatly influenced by the Homestead Acts. The Homestead Acts defined rectilinear units of private property ownership creating social distance whereby farmsteads are equally spread across the landscape leaving ample space between farming families. This sense of spatial and symbolic independence has largely defined the quality of life in Iowa. However, this spatial and federally advocated form of independence is associated with an economic dependence on market forces, food industries and federal policies.

Higher startup and maintenance costs associated with the mechanization of farming coupled with the falling price of produce requires farmers to expand their holdings to maintain profitability. Resulting in ‘successful’ farmers purchasing production ground from other less successful farmers. Making the family farmer’s space unstable as it is consistently under pressure from market competition and turbulent federal policies. This economic condition produces spatial and communal instability because it causes frequent reconfigurations in the living space. For instance, some farmers rent their production grounds and continue to live on their farmsteads away from the public services and employment opportunities on which they depend. The impact of farming development has been even more apparent whereby vacant farm sites along the various roads are a common scene.


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Chamber Memoriam

The inscriptions of labor are written all across the Iowa landscape. There are deep memories etched into field’s and forests, cities and structures. South of Ames, there is a seed-drying chamber, unused for decades. Its surfaces are testament, texture, and time of a labor now lost. By constructing anew, we remember scale and intimacy, heat and air, darkness and gravity. We construct new worlds of memory and labor.


Peter P. Goché

Peter P. Goché is a practicing architect, artist and educator. Goché works with the nature of perception and spatial phenomenon in developing his material practice. His works provoke a temporal-spatial encounter that understand the simultaneous and complex nature of cerebral and corporeal experience. He is co-investigator/author of Guidelines for Spatial Regeneration in Iowa funded by the 2007 AIA Board of Knowledge Committee. Goché has exhibited and lectured on his creative practice and scholarship at many conferences and cultural institutions throughout North America and Western Europe. As educator in the Department of Architecture and foundational design at Iowa State University, Goché holds both B. Arch and M. Arch degrees in architectural studies from Iowa State University. He taught in the Department of Art at Drake University before joining the faculty at the Iowa State University, where he coordinates and teaches design studios.

Professor Goché is also the founder and executive curator of Black Contemporary, a rural field station dedicated to the study of spatial phenomena and perception. Using site-adjusted installations as his primary mode of practice, Goché deploy’s an integrated and focused approach to both theoretical and practical questions pertaining to the nature and impact of materiality specific to the re-occupation of post-industrial spaces. Each inquiry utilizes a range of domains including art, architecture and anthropology as a means of exploring not only what material cultivations can be, but also what they, in fact, do. Based on a series of modulated experimental actions (material modalities), each installation is driven by the nascent possibility of a persistent desire to intercourse with existing material surrounds pursuant a philosophical position that leverages perceptual notions of chiaroscuro- the disposition of light and dark. By extension, the conscious and unconscious, the seen and the unseen, focus and open awareness and the made and re-made are factors in the realm of understanding and producing space.