The Second Occupation, 2007
wood, paper, thread, glassine; 13 x 13 x 1.5 inches (expands to approximately 26 feet in length)
This is one of many projects based on the ideas of Friedrich Fröbel (1782-1852), the German educator who designed, implemented and named the first kindergarten program. Fröbel’s program fashioned itself around a philosophy of unity, leading children to manipulate materials through various exercises (called “Gifts” and “Occupations”) to address forms of Nature, Knowledge and Beauty. Key modernist architects, such as Frank Lloyd Wright and Le Corbusier, passed through the program in its heyday, and some writers have made the case that it provided the seed-pearl of modernism.
Through an intimate exploration and reinvention of Fröbel’s exercises, Clark Espinal’s contemporary manifestations take the form of “found objects,” which serve to highlight the parallels between Fröbel’s concepts and modernist ideals. The Second Occupation consists of pages torn from a notebook containing the exercises of Fröbel’s second Occupation (Sewing-Out). Disguised as a piece of found historical ephemera from the program, the pages are presented in a series of grids. The pages gradually darken and become less readable, suggesting that the object has been rescued from a fire. Presented as an “artifact,” The Second Occupation acts as a remembrance of the inherent beauty in this idealistic enterprise, lamenting and honouring its death.