Iron Age Road Salt Shack, 2013 (concept mockup)
The primary record of human habitation in California’s Wonder Valley consists of “jackrabbit homestead” dwellings built in response to the Small Tract Act of 1938, which furnished small land parcels to anyone willing to erect a dwelling of minimum dimensions. Many of these dwellings are now abandoned, and serve as record of a period of optimism about the area. Salt is also mined nearby: Brackish groundwater is pumped to the surface, evaporated, and collected for use as road salt and in industrial applications.
In connection with High Desert Test Sites 2013, I proposed to erect a 12’x15’ jackrabbit homestead built out of locally mined salt on a parcel adjoining the Iron Age Road. My plan was to build flat wall and roof panels by stretching a natural fabric over light wood frames, and immerse the panels in open-top saline baths. Eventually, after the water had evaporated and the panels became encrusted with salt, I planned to assemble them in the shape of a cabin.
Although the project remains unrealized, Lapham’s Quarterly ran an image from the proposal in their Winter, 2017 issue, HOME.