Andrea Zittel is an American sculptor and installation artist that uses social practice as a medium for her work. She graduated from San Diego State University with a Bachelor’s in Painting/Sculpture and from the Rhode Island School of Design with an MFA in Sculpture. Today, Zittel resides in Joshua Tree, California, where she continues to work and where she has offered the experience of the Wagon Station Encampment since 2004. The Encampment is open to artists, writers, thinkers, hikers, campers, or those conducting research who share Andrea’s affinity for the high desert. The experience is multidimensional, allowing participants the freedom for personal exploration and the opportunity to bond with an intimate community. “Everybody has their desert fantasy; my particular fantasy was probably living on an alien landscape,” the artist said in an interview with ART21. The Encampment is open for one month in fall and for another in spring when the climate agrees, and each month is organized into week-long sessions. Participants typically stay for 1 or 2 sessions. Due to the limited number of spots, those interested are required to complete an application, short bio, and $20 application fee. Those accepted into the Encampment are required to pay a $100 weekly session fee to secure their reservation.The Wagon Station Encampment is a unique experience for individuals such as artists, writers, thinkers, hikers, campers, and researchers that feel called to the desert space and are open to contributing to an intimate community. The experience typically lasts for a week or two, and is open during two month-long seasons annually (typically April and October).
“There are situations where the group will all go on a hike or something, or cook dinner together, but then people kind of hang out in their pods,” one participant said in an ART21 exclusive video. “You can have that private time without it seeming like you’re defecting from the group.”
Andrea designed each of the pods “consciously and intentionally,” to quote one participant.
You can enjoy privacy in your pod, view the night sky, and organize your items neatly in the space.
As aforementioned, the Encampment community is an intimate one. There are twelve A-Z Wagon Stations, a communal outdoor kitchen, open air showers, and composting toilets, according to Zittel’s official site.
Each guest is expected to complete light duties, just like in any other communal living space. The Encampment seeks visitors who are “thoughtful, considerate, and contributors.” These people wouldn’t mind cleaning the kitchen, organizing a chest, or making extra coffee as needed.
Reservations are made through an application process on Zittel’s official site. In addition to an application, you must submit a short bio and an application fee of $20. Once accepted, participants are required to pay a $100 weekly session fee. All fees are non-refundable.
Zittel’s great grandparents were pioneers that settled in the Imperial Valley. She was also interested in the fact that when NASA wanted to test habitation on Mars, they had a station in the Mojave Desert.
Some people might think that the desert is just an empty space with nothing there. “But there’s something about this space that I think really calls to people who want to try and invent their own structures for a living,” the sculptor defended.
**Check out this short video of Andrea Zittel’s Wagon Station Encampment below.**