Following the opening of Mexican artist Ivan Puig’s solo show at MagnanMetz gallery in New York City, Iggy and I visited with Puig and caught up regarding the SEFT-1 project (SEFT is an acronym for Sonda de Exploración Ferroviaria Tripulada or Manned Railway Exploration Probe). I first learned about the project in 2006 when Puig was just getting started on the concept of exploring abandoned railroads through out Mexico using a vehicle designed to travel the on the railroad tracks as well as car roads when necessary. Ivan was interested in seeing first hand what had happened to the communities that were built along the tracks and largely subsisted from the trains running throughout Mexico. Many of these communities are small rural populations that depended on the trains for various needs.
Puig spend a year traversing the abandoned railroad system with his half-brother Andrés Padilla Domene. As described on the exhibitions press release “The two set off from the National Museum of Art in Mexico City to begin their investigation of abandoned railways throughout Mexico and Ecuador, collecting evidence of their travels through photo, video and audio. Puig and Padilla Domene recorded contemporary landscapes, infrastructure and details of the everyday life of inhabitants to create a futuristic exploration of the countries’ pasts. Their progress has been consistently updated on the project’s website, www.seft1.com, where the public can follow the trajectory of the vehicle, view images of artifacts collected and listen to interviews with those they have met along the way.”
It appears that the SEFT-1 will be traveling to the UK to explore abandoned railways throughout the British countryside sometime in the next year. By doing so, the artist will expand the archive of stories regarding locomotive technology and the communities surrounding the technology.