The house is a shape everyone has some form of relationship with. Whether it symbolizes comfort, global financial crises in housing market, cookie cutter mediocrity or family, the house as a mundane symbol or object has been elevated to captivating experimental art and high art on several occasions. This weekend we share with you a selection of significant works that adapt houses into art objects.
Urs Fischer‘s Untitled (Bread House), constructed of bread, bread crumbs, wood, polyurethane foam, silicone, acrylic paint, screws, tape and rugs leaves every ingredient exposed. Stepping inside this large sculptural work recently at MOCA had the effect of walking inside a decaying fairytale, as the work is naturally allowed to crumble and decompose in exhibition. Stepping over piles of crusts of cinnamon raisin bread amidst dirty rugs and peering up at the bubbled polyeurythane foam that seeps between boards and rows of old bread, the viewer may feel any combination of wonder, amusement and fear- much like Grimms Brothers Fairytales.
An Te Liu‘s Title Deed evolved from the Leona Drive Project in Toronto where a number of vacant tract houses were offered to artists to be reinvented as artistic installations. As this project took place in 2009 in the height of the housing market crash, the artist observed that the simple shape of the existing house represented the 20th century iconic Monopoly board game house pieces. The simple, yet flawless execution of Title Deed situated within a functioning suburban neighborhood carries comical yet heavy implications.
In other instances artists have used the space within the house as the content for their works. In a beautiful demonstration of negative space becoming the content of an artwork, Rachel Whiteread, who has mad a practice of casting large structures in concrete for a number of years, cast the entire interior of a Victorian era home. This piece, entitled House, is a mystifying work whereby the emptiness that was once in the house determined all the substance that physically remains. It stands as a haunting and profoundly poetic beacon on an empty street.
Olga Koumoundouros recently took over the foreclosed home next to hers, and used it as a platform to interject many fascinating artistic conceptual tangents. The project A Notorious Possession began with the artist painting the exterior of the home entirely in gold, evolved into the interior of the home’s tranformation into a site specific work of art, which incorporated furniture left in the space and a radiant rainbow painted band that bisects through the home, appearing to touch all the objects and upend them. A Notorious Possession has evolved beyond its initial space and into art spaces, where elements have been re-staged.
Dan Havel and Dean Ruck created Tunnel House a few years ago by peeling away the “skin” of two neighboring houses and using it to make a spiraling vortev that connected one exterior wall to another. Unfortunately this piece is no longer standing, which is a shame, as the interactive quality of this work delivers the experience of an adult playground.
The late Mike Kelley‘s Mobile Homestead, completed at the time of the artist’s death, is an exact replica of his childhood home in Detroit, with sponsorship by MOCAD. The work is at once a public sculpture and an intimate architectural work. Iain Baxter&’s (writer’s note: the & is not a type, it is an official part of the conceptual artist’s name) work Bagged Place, originally created in 1966 was recreated recently in London. After Rebecca Levy, who had lived in the same home (above the art gallery Raven Row) from 1918-2009, passed away, the gallery invited Iain to transform her home into an artwork. In Rebecca’s Bagged Place every single personal item in her home is bagged or wrapped in plastic- every surface and corner covered- in a statement of the commodification of possessions and experiences.