‘Making Final Act’

Ian Strange – Originally published by GIANY [Greek Institute of Architects in New York] as a part of ‘A Shelter for Architecture’

For the past seven years my art practice has focused on the home and suburbia. I have created large scale sculptures, films, photographic works and site-specific interventions on homes in the USA, Australia, New Zealand, Poland and Japan working with communities in disaster zones, affluent neighbourhoods and post GFC affected regions.

Through this ongoing body of work I have become specifically interested in the home as psychological symbol and the false sense of permanence to seems to represent. At the centre of my art practice has been the creation and documentation of large scale site-specific interventions directly onto suburban homes, collaborating with large teams, technicians and with the local communities themselves. These interventions often involve directly marking or cutting the homes. Attempting to place the psychological interior of these homes onto their exteriors, revealing the home’s vulnerability and questioning its sense of permanence.

These interventions are meticulously documented in film and photography. This documentation process uses film lights at dawn and acts to heighten the emotive intent of the work. Placing the home in the familiar space of mass culture, the home seen in film and television. By borrowing the familiar tropes of commercial film and photography I mean to elevate the homes and the interventions, removing a level of specificity to create a proxy for all homes. This allows the works to be considered as a universal home, the idealised and imagined home, the home of memory, tv and childhood.

In November 2013 I created a body for work titled FINAL ACT in Christchurch, New Zealand. At the invitation of Rise Festival and the Canterbury museum I was offered the opportunity to create works in Christchurch’s residential “Red Zone” an area containing over 16,000 houses slated for demolition following a devastating earthquake in 2011.

FINAL ACT was designed to be a film, photography and installation based project and museum exhibition of four house interventions documented in collaboration with cinematographer Alun Bollinger [Lord of the Rings, Heavenly Creatures]

Working in a still active disaster zone involved a large level of community consultation and collaboration. The mass exodus of people from the now abandoned suburbs and resulting local tensions were exacerbated by prolonged insurance claims and controversial redevelopment plans. Adding to this homes were being demolished at a high rate and with very little record taken of these spaces. Arriving three years after the earthquake and with demolition on-going, the festival and museum curators were interested in a work which would archive these homes but also act as a dialogue with a community still healing. Over a period of 3 weeks I working with community groups, volunteers, producers, engineers, the earthquake recovery authority and my own crew to create large geometric cuts into four homes on one suburban street. After each cut was made the interiors were painted entirely white. The houses were then lit, filmed and photographed over three nights.

The final film and photographic documentation highlighted the negative space of the cuts in the houses, with light beaming out. I wanted to open up the homes, exposure their vulnerability and loss of function. While in part a homage to the works of Gordon Matta-Clark and Richard Wilson, they are also reactive to the reality of the entire earthquake affected region (most homes in the ‘Red Zone’ were split, sunk on an angle or left with gaping holes following the earthquake, simultaneously devastating and reminiscent of seminal works by Wilson and Matta-Clark). The final film and photographic works act as a permanent emotive archive of these since demolished Christchurch homes. This work was then archived and acquired by the museum’s permanent collection as a record of these homes and the 16,000 other homes which were demolished.

FINAL ACT premiered in a solo exhibition at the Canterbury Museum, Christchurch from December 2013 to March 2014.

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Originally published by GIANY [Greek Institute of Architects in New York] as a part of ‘A Shelter for Architecture’