Unsettling Photos Of Irish Ghost Housing Developments

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In some places in Ireland there are housing developments that stand like lonely sentries, waiting for people who never come. Valérie Anex’s series “Ghost Estates, Ireland, 2011” captures these eerie non-residences and their all but unused communal spaces.

The National Institute for Regional and Spatial Analysis NIRSA defines a ghost estate as a development of ten houses or more in which fifty per cent or less of homes are occupied or completed. In October 2010, according to official estimates, there were 2846 ghost estates and more than 350 000 vacant homes throughout the Republic of Ireland.

Even completed and populated these estates would be odd Stepford-like places, with their rows of identical buildings spreading across the countryside. Lived in, though, they would adapt and change, influenced by their residents. Landscaping, additions, a new front door color— eventually the sameness of the buildings would subside. Empty, though, the monotony is numbing. Anex’s photos are stark and documentary in style. The repetition of the house forms, a superfluous real-life copy and paste, benefit from their pragmatic composition. Anex doesn’t rely on fancy tricks or filters to evoke the paralysis of these places—the empty eyed windows and rubble-strewn lawns become increasingly disturbing with each image in the series.

These empty shells are eyesores for the locals in these small towns. The crisis is affecting the country – unemployment, debts, budget cuts, flights of capital investments – but it is also shaping its landscape. Bitter memories left by the spectral and temporary nature of the property boom in Ireland, ghost estates are the symbol of the property market’s collapse, a topology of the economic disintegration of the country.

There are some residents in these ghost estates, though Anex has chosen not to include them in her photos. Tana French’s chilling 2013 novel, Broken Harbor, is set in such a place. In that book, madness and murder and awful fear take place among the mostly empty and unfinished houses of an Irish ghost estate. Looking at these photos, it doesn’t seem a stretch. It can’t be comfortable to live in such a place, with unfinished houses and absent lives. (via Slate)

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Urs Fischer And Seven Other Artists Create Dynamic Works With Houses

Urs Fischer

Urs Fischer

Rachel Whiteread

Rachel Whiteread

 An Te Liu

An Te Liu

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.

 

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Jana Maré in Ruins of a Home

The new work from Australian photographer Jana Maré in a way presents different relationships.   Maré’s nude body is found throughout a deteriorating house, interacting with various rooms and structures.  The physical relationship expressed in the photos at once recalls the structure’s past incarnation as a home and emphasizes its current dilapidation.  At the same time, though, Maré, in using her own body and refusing to use digital manipulation seems to have a nearly uneasy relationship with the camera and viewer – her posing a kind of performance that has been frozen.

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Hiroyuki Shinozaki’s Open House

For anyone who grew up in the 80′s & 90′s, Hiroyasu Sakaguchi’s House T will look vaguely familiar, namely because House T is laid out like a level in Mario, or most other Nintendo games for that matter. All the spaces in a house that we have gotten used to as individual, semi-private rooms have been stripped of their walls and joined into one long inter-connected space. I love it because it reminds us of the tension between psychological and physical space, how we compartmentalize various aspects of our life into respective spaces. House T reminds me of Gordon Matta Clark’s work, albeit much cleaner, Japanese, and way less punk rock, but the altering of our perception of space is in them both. (via)

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Johan Björkegren

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The work of Johan Björkegren feels like a fairy tale, with twists and turns. It’s what I pictured when I was 5 and holding the covers hearing stories. It is decrepid and pronounced, and can, at times, feel like a house that won’t stop squeaking. It feels loved and nurtured, but it doesn’t believe in purity or the idea of white.

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