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Home Improvement Center

Artists: Mai Braun, Matthew Callinan, Ben Colebrook, Lisa Dahl, Susan De Seyn, Linda Ganjian, Chris Held, Rene Hinds, Yumi Janairo Roth, and JeongMee Yoon.

The proposed exhibition Home Improvement Center looks at objects found in, and concepts involving, house and home. A primary aim to present work that makes viewers look inward, to the places where we live, in order to examine how we live and to reflect on the choices we make, which inevitably affect our view of the outside world.

Sculptors and installation artists use nonart objects found in houses, apartments, and garages as artistic material; these include tables and chairs, beds, dishes and cooking ware, cardboard boxes, ironing boards, box fans, bookshelves, and much more. These works can be altered, found objects or sculptural objects that mimic functional ones. One idea here is to examine the legacy of the rectified readymade and to present work that transforms mass-produced objects into singular works of art.

Artists who make two-dimensional work explore what makes the house a home, bringing the private, domestic arena into the social sphere of the gallery. Works will inevitably engage issues such as domesticity, craft, family, and the like, but I’m more interested in work that goes beyond these common subjects. Like the three-dimensional work, this section looks at representations of the material stuff of households—things like furniture, appliances, and electronic gadgets, and other things that make life better and easier—and address larger concerns about consumption and lack, ostentatious display and asceticism, wealth and poverty, and comfort and discomfort.

A look at the work of several possible artists for inclusion may help illuminate the proposal. First, sculpture and installation: Ben Colebrook creates coffee-table books out of plywood and mirrors and constructs bookshelves containing re-creations of volumes found in the self-improvement section of a Barnes and Noble bookstore. Through his pseudocorporation, CHELDO, Chris Held builds vacuums, heaters, lamps, and radios that actually work despite their bizarre-looking forms. Mai Braun makes her sculptures and installation works from cardboard and other ordinary materials, spreading flattened boxes across the gallery or stacking them one on top of the other. In one work, Matthew Callinan forms an igloo from large plastic storage containers, and in another he assembles an artificial wind tunnel with sixty-four ordinary box fans.

Artists working in two-dimensional art are: Susan De Seyn, who uses glossy enamel paint to represent luxury domestic objects culled from auction-house catalogues on wide expanses of paper. Similarly, Mark Epstein paints invented interiors based in part on period rooms in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In a series called There Goes the Neighborhood, Lisa Dahl covers photographs and magazine pages depicting houses (mostly suburban homes and mansions) with paint, stickers, and glitter, rendering them inaccessible. The photographer JeongMee Yoon examines the excessive influence of societal gender roles on children in her series of images of children among their personal possessions bought by parents (blue for boys, pink for girls).

This exhibition would include the work of about fifteen to twenty artists. Site-specific works by the sculptors and installation artists would be encouraged. I am interested in finding artists who deal with issues different than those described above, such as homelessness, green living, and reuse and recycling. Video and video installation could also be included—I want to include a diverse range of media.

Submitted in October 2006 to Smack Mellon in Brooklyn, New York.