Elena and I were invited by Art Kibbutz, an international Jewish artist community based in New York City, to create a site-specific installation from July 28, 2015 – August 4, 2015 at their Summer Residency on Governor’s Island, one of NYC’s hottest, new, arts venues located in the middle of New York Harbor.
After studying the potential spaces available to us in the former army officer’s home that was serving as the four-month studio and exhibition facility for Art Kibbutz, we ultimately chose to work under the main stairwell in a hallway on the first floor of this formerly elegant building that had lain fallow for years. Using parachute cord, painter’s plastic, charcoal and oil stick, we transformed the ‘dead’ space into an intimate place, an “open house” in which visitors are ‘invited’ to imagine the past life that existed here and place themselves in its present configuration.
The vertical, horizontal and diagonal lines that we hung from wall to ceiling to floor provide the outlines of a structure’s roof and walls and suggest the architectural elements of a fence, a portico, a gable. The pieces of plastic that are covering sections of the existing plaster walls in the hallway have become ‘paintings’ decorating the interior of the new structure. These ‘paintings’ are artifacts of the peeling paint and cracks that reflect the building’s decay and were created by rubbing charcoal gently over the plastic.
“Open House” is the first installation on the theme of home and homelessness that we are currently exploring in a new, collaborative, interactive public art project. A second installation in which participants create the ‘clapboards’ of a ‘home’ took place in Stamford, CT on August 5, 2015 in partnership with New Neighborhoods, Inc. and Shelter for the Homeless, non-profit organizations dedicated to providing affordable housing and shelter in the Stamford area.
Here are some images of “Open House” that highlight the bold new lines created by the black cord, the repetitive line patterns that echo the vertical and horizontal lines in the existing structure, and the shadowy remnants revealed in the house’s new ‘paintings.’