Home Project 2003
The house in new Australian sculpture
by Maria Bilske
It was just such a grand gesture that Sydney artists Claire Healy and
Sean Cordeiro were enacting when they reassembled their newly acquired
house in the gallery at Artspace earlier this year. For The Cordial Home
Project (2003), Healy and Cordeiro demolished an actual house (obtained
in exchange for the labour and costs of taking it away) and reformed all
its components - brick, wood, tiles, corrugated iron, concrete, plaster,
glass - in a solid block, the size of a large room and human height. This
reconstruction of the house as a single brick or unit gave us a visceral
awareness of its base materiality, even once its form or structure of
rooms and space had been broken.
The Cordial Home Project was the product of a process that seems almost
industrial (like a car crushed into a cube) and strategies that are integral
to post 60s art (in particular one thinks again of Matta-Clark). Certainly
the total destruction of the house is an aggressive gesture, the techniques
unsentimental. The reconstitution of it as a work of art though, seems
a strangely loving gesture. There is of course an art nostalgia at work
too - a reference to minimalism, and a performance lineage to their work.
The work presented just the matter of the house without its space, reformed
in the space of modern art, but its destruction was not complete. The
various materials visible as sediments - the bits of green bathroom tile,
the distinctive red brick, the corrugated iron roof cladding - left a
residue in the mind of the viewer. Even without the spatial relations
that make the materials useful and give them meaning, we continue to recognise
and have a strong relationship with the base material of the thing.
such, the work will be a reminder too that our ways of dwelling are temporary
and contingent on lots of factors - environmental, economic, cultural
- and that they too will change; that physically the house is just a thing
that can be broken up, just a product of history and society in a particular
time, and that things can be different.