Strange Archaeology

04 Lars HomesteadLars Homestead cutaway. After filming finished on the original Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, in 1976, the domed Lars homestead was left to decay in Tunisia, North Africa. 

This desert location was used in 1976 to film Starwars. Not exactly a beloved landmark, the striking domed home was known in the film as the Lars Homestead on Luke Skywalker’s home planet of Tatooine. The structure had been left to decay in the broiling temperatures of the Tunisian desert since filming.

The sites, however were brought to the attention of a group of enthusiastic fans by a series of photos that were taken by artist and photographer Rä di Martino who first ventured into the Tunisian desert to find the abandoned movie sets. Rä di Martin states:

“This is a series of photographs taken in the abandoned movie sets of the film saga Star Wars, filmed through the years in different locations in the south of Tunisia. Unexpectedly those sets have been left on location, probably because in the middle of nowhere and because no-one from the local authorities complained and therefore after years some of it have now become ruins, almost as some sort strange archaeological sites. The particular hot and dry climate has helped maintain intact many parts of the sets, or buried under the sand just sections of it. The sets visited are in four different locations.”

Star-Wars-Tunisa-6Photos by Rä di Martin

So who in their right mind would travel out into the Tunisian desert to restore a plaster construction that was featured in some sci-fi flick? The six-man group came to Tunisia from five countries and worked with Tunisian locals in temperatures topping 120 degrees. They chronicled the repairs on the website Save the Lars Homestead. The group collected more than $11,000 through a Facebook page and spent four days working with locals in broiling temperatures to repair it.

When the group arrived on May 27, the domed home remembered by many from the film looked battered and crumbling, but by the time the group took photos on June 1, it was repaired, replastered, and painted a shining white. The team photographed their work putting in a new foundation, digging out the steps to the building, and restoring the steps with original pieces.

Star-Wars-Tunisa-3

They even installed an entry coder with red and white buttons to mimic the one seen in “Star Wars,” and deposited a mix of sand from all the different “Star Wars” Tunisian filming locations into the cement of the final step into the domed home. They also installed a commemorative plaque marking the site.

The groups website also features photos taken at such memorable movie settings as Jawa Rock, Artoo’s Hideout, the city of Mos Espa, Ben Kenobi’s Hermitage and the Mos Eisley Cantina, as well as settings from “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” which also filmed in the area.

Star-Wars-Tunisa-1

According to the Starwars legend, the Lars homestead was the home of the Lars family for at least three generations. It was a moisture farm located on the Great Chott Salt Flat in the Jundland Wastes on the planet Tatooine. The farm was originally owned by Gredda and Lef Lars. They passed it on to their son, Cliegg Lars who then passed it onto Owen and Beru Lars. Owen and Beru raised Luke Skywalker, son of Anakin Skywalker, on the farm until age nineteen. The farm was burned and Owen and Beru killed by the Galactic Empire as they searched for the droids C-3PO and R2-D2, who had been traced to the farm.

A moisture farm, with sixty-three separate vaporators scattered on the property,[source?] the Lars farm was located on the Great Chott Salt Flat,[4] on the outskirts of the Jundland Wastes, far removed from the closest city, Anchorhead. The homestead itself was mostly underground, to keep it cool, and always provided adequate room for the Lars family.

The homestead’s most prominent feature was the main living pit, a crater housing a courtyard from which occupants could access the various rooms, lofts and areas of the homestead. It was accessed via the main entry dome, set to the side of the living pit, and opposite the vehicle utility pit. The dome was made from pourstone, and hand-built by Cliegg Lars. It featured an external security access keypad and message center, and was commonly surrounded by various apparatus such as dew condenser jugs and area sensors.

The crater walls were composed of hard packed soil, laced with magnetic ore, that served as insulation from the heat of Tatooine’s twin suns, and from the chilly night-time temperatures. Funnel flowers grew around the rim of the crater. The center of the courtyard was given up to two GX-8 water vaporators, commonly serviced by a droid patch-in unit. The courtyard provided access to the family dining room and kitchen, a storage room and sleeping lofts. The crater rim was commonly surrounded by power distribution conduits and fusion generator supply tanks.

Star-Wars-Tunisa-2

A tech dome was situated behind the entrance dome. The tech dome featured a hinged roof, allowing access to an elevator leading into the garage below.[5] The garage had enough space to house the family vehicles, including Luke’s X-34 landspeeder, the family V-35 Courier and Luke’s T-16 skyhopper. A vehicle recharge port was located next to the outer dome.

Martino was born in Rome in 1975. She received her BA in Fine Art Media from the Chelsea College of Art and her MFA in Fine Art Media from the Slade School of Art in London. She currently lives in New York City and has had group and solo shows since 2002. You can see her complete portfolio at radimartino.com and radimartino.tumblr.com

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About Art Selectronic

Art Selectronic is an artist an artist-led initiative, that supports grass-roots contemporary art that remains unswayed by fashion, trends or the whims of government funding. The project involves ongoing research into the placing of contemporary art, it’s audiences and it’s relationship to the everyday. We place great emphasis on context. Our mission is to support new works of contemporary art and foster an audience from a wide range of backgrounds.
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