On the 23rd August 2012, the particpants of The House Project celebrated the opening of the exhibition of works at the H Project Space, Bangkok, Thailand.
P R E S S R E L E A S E
‘If I was the Architect of a ‘Dream House’
The House Project uses representations — drawing, painting, photography, assemblage, 3D construction, objects and the moving image — to engage with an extraordinary house, which has been growing and collapsing over a period of eighteen years, on the ashes of a previous house.
The current house should not be judged as a failed house, nor as a pictur- esque, eccentric urban ruin; but as a singular, complex, tragic and (in some ways) exemplary work of the imagination. Not contrived as art works often are, and not as tasteful as ‘Art Brut’ tends to be, the house expresses its tragic existential situation through both its structure and its materiality. More ‘house of dreams’ than material house.
In The Poetics of Space Bachelard reminds us that ‘there exists for each one of us an oneiric house, a house of dream-memory, that is lost in the shadow of the real past… the crypt of the house where we were born in’. For most of us this imaginary house only exist in our minds, if we allow it to manifest itself at all…
Khun A., the owner, architect and builder of this house, is aware that, as it stands, his house is not suitable for living in (not ready, yet). But he has not given up. ‘Everything is under control’, he remarked, when he politely declined our offer of help.
Through our encounters with Khun A., and from engaging with his house, over a year, we noticed that, behind this fragile structure and complex geometry — and irrespective of its failure as a dwelling — the house could be
inspirational in an exemplary and humbling way: as the expression of a man’s life and resilience, of his memories and his aspirations, in symbolic form.
The fact that the process of building the house has lasted over a period of eighteen years (and is still on-going) suggests an extra-ordinary resilience on the part of Khun A., a feat that we do not feel we would be capable of. Modern Sisyphus — victim and hero ?
The 3D structure in the middle of the gallery does not attempt to represent the house but alludes to the challenge of creating permanence out of pure will and fantasy.
In Pattern Language Christopher Alexander suggests that, in architecture,
‘The most effective structure will be… a continuous structure, in which all members are rigidly connected in such a way that each member carries at least some part of the stresses caused by any pattern of loading’
This principle is violated by the house, at every step; for there, discontinuity and fragmentation are the norm. Ironically, it is fully realized in the common Thai ’fashee’ — reminiscent of the woven structures found in some African willow and mud houses and in the design of modern tents.
The inevitability of the house’s collapse is alluded to in a photomontage, various postcards and photographic records of our looking, echoed in three plastic and one woven ‘fashees’, transformed as architectural models.
The exhibition takes the form of a polylogue: a dialogue of many voices, set up and around an emblematic wooden structure, onto which footage of Khun A. is projected, and around which a variety of visual propositions crystallizes our individual concerns and approaches: postcards, drawings, etchings, photographs, paintings, assemblages, documentation and texts.
On the floor, a collection of drawers are scattered: with notes of our journey, proofs, fragments….
The exhibition invites you to enter the polylogue and leave your mark, in any way you see fit.
The House Project developed from staff research seminars led by visiting professor Gérard Mermoz at King Mongkut’s University, in July-August 2011.
The House Project is: Gérard Mermoz (lead artist and project curator), Associate Professor Nigel Power, who set up the scheme, participating artists: Michael Croft, Checksant Gangakate, Simon Labalestier, (Communication De- sign); Voraprada Vorantanachai and Akararat Songwattanayothin (students, Communication Design), David Murgala (Architecture).
Our grateful thanks go to King Mongkut’s University, who generously funded the project, to Brian Curtin curator of H Project Space and to H at Gallery H, who kindly gave hospitality to the House Project.
More information can be found at The House Project Bangkok