I still live in the house I grew up in. It’s a simple house on the corner in the suburbs, a mile away from both my elementary, middle and high school. It’s a single-family home that at one point held more than twice that. Now it stands, changed in many ways but still the same in many others.
The situation is different for many others out there. But, for me, this is where I live.
“The House Imaginary” is a multi-media art exhibition, curated by Lauren Schell Dickens, that explores what the concept of a house and home can mean in an increasingly unstable and uncertain landscape. It considers the archetypes and symbolism behind the different types of shelter, and creates a space that truly opens itself up to the many meanings of the word “home”.
A piece that really struck me, and something that I think really worked well with the depth and variety of the pieces exhibited, was “Gate” by Do Ho Suh. It’s one of the first things you see when you walk into the room, a massive woven ornate gate hung in the air. It’s so thin, almost transparent, like something made by spiderweb.
“Gate” is a representation of Do Ho Suh’s family home in Seoul, a tribute to what once was after the modernization of South Korea in the 50s and 60s that resulted in the destruction of a lot of the country’s old architecture. But the artist has captured one fragment of her family home, depicting it in it’s massive, awe-struck glory. And there it hangs, pale and soft – a ghost from a past we never lived.
Another, and perhaps the centerpiece of “The House Imaginary”, is the massive video instillation that takes up the entirety of the other room. I’m talking about “dolefullhouse” by Tabaimo. I almost don’t want to talk too much about this for fear of ruining the experience I had sitting there in the dark and immersing myself with no prior expectations. I will say that I’ve always been particularly sensitive to video installations – something about the darkness and the sensory deprivation that really chains you to what you’re seeing. This is no exception. I watched through the full installation twice, with bated breath and every part of me completely attuned to what was happening onscreen.
But, like I said, I don’t want to ruin the surprise that is “dolefullhouse”. The central focus, and all I think you need to know going in, is the idea of the body as the home, and the subsequent cultural erasure of the body.
There are lots of other treasures to be found in “The House Imaginary” that I could go into, but I don’t think anything I could say can compare to simply imploring you to see the exhibit for yourself. “The House Imaginary” runs through August 19th, 2018 at the San Jose Museum of Modern Art. Walk your way through it and find out – or perhaps remember – what home means to you.
- APR 20-AUG 19: The House Imaginary | San Jose Museum of Art