Archive for the ‘Itinerant Home’ Category
Mary Hale is still too tired to provide a play-by-play account of the five days that Itinerant Home spent happily installed in New Orleans during the DesCours festival. Thus, a short account with a few highlights and photographs will have to suffice.
Itinerant Home spent half of the festival on it’s assigned site: the rooftop of the DH Holmes Building at 810 Bienville Street in the French Quarter. This site couldn’t have been more symbolically and aesthetically appropriate for its connection to the city, its proximity to water, is kitsch plastic wood decking… However, an unforseen problem surfaced on opening night: gale force winds threatened to blow the project off of the roof. One of my volunteer assistants wouldn’t even go inside for fear that she and the project would blow into the pool together. There she would drown, wrapped in deflated masses of unrippable ripstop nylon… She wouldn’t even enter after another assistant and I had moved a park bench inside, along with several tables… The roof inverted, and the house rocked violently back and forth.
After thirty minutes we threw in the towel, and thanks to Itinerant Home’s portability we we were able to reinstall in two unassigned sites before semi-permanently squatting in the parking garage next door. The garage was filthy (as evidenced by the current condition of Itinerant Home’s feet), and its ceiling had a few low hanging barbs of re-bar (as evidenced by a small hole in Itinerant Home’s roof) and rusty pipes (as evidenced by a dark streak across Itinerant Home’s roof). Nonetheless, there was space in the garage for the project to roam freely, and it was thrilling to allow eight visitors to move the house all over the space simply by coordinating their steps — as choreographed once by myself and once by my lovely and helpful volunteer assistant, a Tulane medical student named Michelle.
The next night, Itinerant Home, now anchored with sand bags and ties, by God, spent the whole night on its rooftop site. The site was enhanced by musical accompaniment provided by the Ed Barrett Trio. The feeling was grand, but it couldn’t last. The two ensuing stormy nights of torrential downpours and winds sent Itinerant Home scurrying for shelter in the parking garage next door to her site yet again.
The week was replete with exciting moments. Perhaps most notably, on Sunday December 13 around 8:00pm a marching band emerged from a thick fog on the rooftop of the DH Holmes Building. Following the band, nearly sixty drunken fans exploded into the pool area. Someone actually dove into the pool, head first fully clothed. Two women seemingly attempted (and half-succeeded) to rip hands off of two of Itinerant Home’s bodysuits with their drunken flailing. Doug MacCash, the New Orleans Times Picayune‘s Art Critic helped a guest secure Itinerant Home’s fan with duct tape. And although Mr. MacCash didn’t recount this moment, he did provide a kind word or two about the project here.
That night, closing night, was one of the best moments of Itinerant Home’s short life in the public eye. A few pictures from the week appear below (and above), but you will find even more here. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that Itinerant Home will make another appearance sometime in the near future. Stayed tuned…
Thank you very much to everyone at the AIA New Orleans who made DesCours happen, particularly Melissa Urcan, Megan Cook, Lorie, and Eyal. DesCours is a wonderful festival, and I hope to one day talk about some of the great installations I visited when I could escape from my own high-maintenance project! Thank you also to the magnificently gracious, amazing, and magnanimous role-model-to-all Carey Clouse for EVERYTHING. Thank you to Brandon, Caroline and of course, Katie for coming down to show your support!!!! And for just generally putting up with an obsessive crazy person during the months leading up to the festival. Thank you Jeest for blogging about me and coming to see my studio. THANK YOU EVERYONE I HAVEN’T THANKED TOO! You know who you are and you might be mad at me for not mentioning your name. But there are so many of you… perhaps I should plant some trees or purchase carbon offsets in your honor…
Anyway… happy holidays. There will be more to come in 2010.
It’s been a whirlwind week with countless untold tales of sleeplessness, problem solving and insanity, but Itinerant Home is finally installed and working exactly as planned. The project is installed in a location other than the one mentioned in a precious post. Now, it is on the fourth floor of 810 Bienville in the French Quarter. Click here for a map showing Itinerant Home’s site (number 8), as well as the sites for all 13 DesCours Installations.
Tonight is opening night, but Itinerant Home’s big night will take place Thursday from 7 – 10pm. There will be a band and a crowd wearing the Home around the pool. It would be wonderful if you could make it!
IT’S HAPPENING. Itinerant Home is slowly taking flacid shape.
After a five day Thanksgiving Residency in the Berkshires, all of the detail work that will go into Itinerant Home is complete. Now it’s just a matter of assembling the house. In the meantime, Carey Clouse, MIT Architecture alumna and an Enterprise Rose Fellow at Providence Community Housing in New Orleans was kind enough to contribute the following insight about New Orleans post-Katrina:
Although Shrinking Cities have plagued the Rust Belt for several decades, the rise of natural disasters, growing foreclosures and a deepening economic crisis has fueled this effect throughout large and small American cities. This changing growth pattern calls for innovative design tactics; empty lots, forsaken buildings, a loss of density and irregular rings of development offer exceptional opportunities for meaningful design interventions.
As communities look for new ways to integrate food production and localized fuel sources, useful infrastructure and changing lifestyles, this drosscape offers itself up as a panacea to the problem. New Orleans has become a testing ground for new and innovative design tactics, and the post-Katrina landscape offers a unique set of geographic, cultural and physical conditions for these efforts. Designers who work with this landscape must understand the issues that specifically affect shrinking cities, and the impact of this population loss on the environment, community, and built landscape.
With just 77% of its pre-storm population, a 50% average increase in rents, and over 60,000 vacant homes or empty lots, housing, density and land use have become major factors in the redevelopment of New Orleans. Though troubling, these statistics provide designers with real parameters for retooling the landscape. For better or worse, New Orleans has become the target of innovative and sustainable design work, ranging from bioremediation efforts to re-casting the subdivision, scattered-site farming to local power generation strategies, land banking and radical community building efforts.
Many thanks for the insights Carey. Keep up the good work!
In honor of Thanksgiving, let’s give thanks for the “often translucent and usually malleable and soft… bubbles, spheres and inflatable structures” described in my Thanksgiving reading, Thin skin:
The following are a collection of snap shots of images of inspirational pieces from the “Thin Skin” exhibit. This exhibit sought to identify “some of the reasons behind this resurgence of the bubble [in contemporary art] and its various spin-offs…” Carin Cuoni, the exhibit’s curator, eloquently provides the following reason:
“In our mediated environment we have developed a new spatial sensibility, tailored to in between spaces neither virtual nor real, that finds its artistic expression in installations involving bubbles, balloons or translucent cocoon-like environments.”
Thanks to Carin Kuoni and the Independent Curators International for putting togethether such an inspiring exhibit. I highly recommend its catalog, where many of the following images appear in much higher resolution and quality accompanied by fascinating essays and critical theory. I’ve taken the liberty of making a few of my own curatorial additions, as well. Those are noted as such.
Perhaps it’s exhaustion, but the current stage of construction is very slow and somewhat frustrating. Yesterday I completed only one of these:
It’s unlikely that you understand the sheer ecstatic joy that accompanies:
Currently constructing body-parts. All heads complete. 8 legs (unfortunately not 8 pairs of legs) finished. A few photos below: