Housewarming

Housewarming

One-way mirrored privacy film has been applied on the gallery’s shop-front windows. In this installation allowing passing traffic to see into the gallery whilst blocking the occupants view out - its reverse side reflecting the interior back into the space. This exhibition-as-home is furnished with three artworks: a desk, a stove and a children’s portable playhouse. ‘A table for solitude’ proposes itself as an unresolved object that sits between functionless art and functional design, sculpture and desk, testing familiar and assured modernist positions that reiterate the utopian harmony of form and function. Conceived as a personal workspace and embedded with power sockets, the wall-hung form belies the depressed bio-political reality of the nomadic itinerant isolated worker. The stainless steel and hardwood with tapered edge is suggestive of designer furniture, but also a kind of kitchen; the embedded stainless steel sheet was originally conceived for use with a hotplate. Deliberately constructed with open sides the table intends to ‘service one person but sometimes two, and occasionally three.’ The miniature fabric playhouse populated by soft brightly coloured Memphis-like furniture, is fitted with a hidden speaker that narrates the story of a team of experts that carry out situated market research to the viewer and the humanoid ‘Göönk’ creatures inhabiting it. Manufactured by IKEA in the mid-90s, the object becomes a mis-en-scene for children, projecting a story of social organisation, anthropological market research in homes, and technical objects seeking to streamline consumer habits. In Beauty and the Beast, the chef of the castle is turned into his object counterpart, a Victorian iron stove. The scenes that ensue feature hand drawn characters dancing in a 3D modelled space, a moment in Disney’s history which convinced executives to invest in CGI. Unlike the 3D architectural models which use foamboard to showcase buildings, here we are presented with a 1:1 scale model. The exhibition was conceived through a dialogue between the artists centred specifically on the ‘house’ as simultaneously shelter and a place of control, an organising principle and container for ideology. The physical space of an idealised middle class house in the context of remote sensing technologies and surveillance recalls many familiar interconnected sites of discourse; cultural hegemony, consumerism and the body. Modernism (and its legacies) played a part in controlling domestic architecture through corporeal manipulation as well as alternative (unproductive) lifestyles. Neoliberal policies and the effects of the gradual progression of social housing into real estate assets, demarcates a shift of public perception from the collective to the self-sufficient, where each homestead becomes an island unto itself. The creeping conservatism seen since, engendered by austerity, job precarity and a national housing shortage confirm the ‘home’ as a place of continuing trauma.

Housewarming

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