Reading Rooms: Stories Our Homes Tell About Us

Reading Rooms: Stories Our Homes Tell About Us

Ronee Saroff
Jan 28, 2010

Maxwell's imaginative contribution to the Bloomingdales Big Window Challenge has had me thinking about the stories our rooms tell about us.

Last week, I covered the new Inigo Manglano-Ovalle exhibit at Mass MoCa based on an unfinished house by Mies van der Rohe. This week, I'm revisiting the work of Japanese artist Chiharu Shiota who also draws inspiration from interiors and ordinary household objects. All three installations invite us into a private space where something meaningful has happened or is about to happen. But how well can we rely on what we see?

Where Manglano-Ovalle's glass house acts as a stand-in for the Modernist movement as a whole, Shiota's glass rooms seem to operate on a more personal level. Where the wide panes of unobstructed glass in the Mies house and the Bloomies window allow close observation of the interior, the views in and out of Shiota's houses are distorted by overlapping panes of old, discarded glass with heavy wooden frames. What becomes of memory when transmitted through so many layers?

We like to think of homes as living things that contain and convey our stories. If someone were to stumble into your room right now, what story would it tell?

Images: 1. Sunhi Mang , 2. Emi Suzuki

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