Totemic Sampler

Atelier Calder, Saché, France 2018

Wavering between shelters and textile wrapping, Totemic Sampler deals with a fundamental theme in architectural theory–the theme of its origins. The nomadic wooden structure is covered with a large patchwork of “sarapes”—pieces of Mexican fabric—whose motifs are mixed with those modernist motifs developed by the Bauhaus weaving workshops in the early 20th century. At that time, western interest in so-called “primitive” art, produced on a small scale by pre-industrialized cultures, was based on the idea that it was at once useful and artistically devised in accordance with basic and authentic social and spiritual beliefs. In addition, the traditional motifs of the sarapes are above all a language, because the embroidery samplers handed down from generation to generation are a distinctive family “signature” which, like a DNA code, links the individual to his/her social group (the clan). The “primitive” tent thus made by Borja is a mixture of these codes which are merged in such a way that it has become impossible to tell the modernist motifs apart from the traditional motifs. Forming a new language, this great “garment” thus offers the person it protects a pure geometric abstraction, detached from any totemic structure, and from any social and cultural origin.