First published: Fall 2002
For almost twenty years, a spectacular art environment had been rising alongside a curve in the shallow Fluviá river in northwestern Catalunya, Spain. Nestled among the medieval villages of La Garroxta, this fantastic sprawling construction at once harmonized and collided with the well-worn stones, deep valleys, and verdant volcanic landscape of the local surroundings. Locally known as a ‘wild park’ (parc salvatge) or ‘wild village’ (poblat salvatge), the seven soaring towers, innumerable bridges, shelters, and walkways, and, above all, a labyrinth, 1.5 kilometers long, had all been created by the labor of Josep Pujiula i Vila. The entire intricate construction covered more than one hectare of land, and the towers soared some 30 meters high, jauntily capped by Catalan flags and banners. It had been an unaffected open-air sanctuary, a devilishly enjoyable maze, the ‘Sagrada Familia of Art Brut,’ in an appropriate aesthetic and conceptual reference to one of Spain’s most recognizable architectural treasures, Barcelona’s cathedral, designed by Antoni Gaudí.
Yet on June 18, 2002, Pujiula began the process of dismantling his work, the result of a meeting held the week before with representatives of the Generalitat of Catalunya and the mayor of Argelaguer, the owner of the land upon which Pujiula had – illegally – built his masterpiece.