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DWELLING: AN EXPLORATION OF THE HOME AND MEMORY BY EUGENIE FORTIER A Thesis Submitted to the Division of Art New College of Florida in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Bachelor of Arts Under the sponsorship of Professor Kim Anderson Sarasota, Florida April, 2012
This thesis is dedicated to Papa. You are the home that is always with me.
iii ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS This thesis would not have been possible without the love and support of my mom, who has been more helpful than she can ever know. I would like to thank Professors Kim Anderson and Richard Herzog; without their guidance and help, I would have been lost. I am especially grateful to Professor Anderson for encouraging me to take on this project and for her assistance throughout the year. Of course, I have to thank my friends for bearing with me during this year. Ben Sims, Alex Miranda, Sherry Haber, Suzanne Olvey, and Nicole Cardenas have been a wonderful thesis group. More personally, Sara Hogan has been an irreplaceable part of my life ever since she entered it. And Dolan Cochran, who incessantly helped me and stood by my side, supporting my ambitions and offering constant support from over a thousand miles away. I love you.
TABLE OF CONTENTS Image List....v Abstract...vi Introduction..1 Chapter 1 Home, Memory, and the Uncanny...5 Home in Art14 Chapter 2 My Work.....19 Conclusion.28 Bibliography..29 Images32
IMAGE LIST Figure 1. Khedoori, Toba. Untitled (Doors) 1999. 2. Fortier, Eugnie. Segments, 2012. 3. Fortier, Eugnie. Fragments 2012. 4. Fortier, Eugnie. Roof 2011. 5. Matta-Clark, Gordon. Four Corners 1974. 6. Kelley, Mike. The Educational Complex 1995. 7. Fortier, Eugnie. Imagined Abandonment 2011. 8. Fortier, Eugnie. Echoes 2012. 9. Hopper, Edward. House by the Railroad 1925. 10. Fortier, Eugnie. Carpet 2011. 11. Fortier, Eugnie. Threshold 2011. 12. Tuymans, Luc. Gaschamber 1986. 13. Whiteread, Rachel. House 1993. 14. Fortier, Eugnie. Unveil 2011. 15. Fortier, Eugnie. Erosion 2011. 16. Fortier, Eugnie. Overlap 2012. 17. Suh, Do-Ho. Seoul/L.A./New York/Baltimore/London Home 1999. 18. Fortier, Eugnie. Accumulation 2012. 19. Fortier, Eugnie. Childhood Home 2012. 20. Fortier, Eugnie. Keep 2012. 21. Fortier, Eugnie. Votive 2012. 22. Fortier, Eugnie. A Place I Knew Because You Knew It 2011.
v DWELLING: AN EXPLORATION OF HOME AND MEMORY Eugnie Fortier New College of Florida, 2012 ABSTRACT In my thesis, I visually deconstruct the home through the lens of memory. Elements of remembrance, such as fragmentation, disintegration, repetition, and compartmentalization, thus become prominent guides for the formal qualities of the twoand three-dimensional work. Seemingly following the trend of disillusionment of the home that was sparked by the anti-domestic feminist art of the 1970s, my work questions the nostalgia often associated with the home. This allows the resulting art to flirt with the uncanny. In this sense, the home almost transforms into a puzzle that is continuously undone and reconfigured in an attempt to find its essential being and value within possible solutions. Unfortunately, what mainly arises is an awareness of the elusive nature of an ideal based on the past, unveiling the loss that defines present reality. I contextualize my work through artists such as Edward Hopper, and Gordon Matta-Clark, and more contemporarily through Toba Khedoori, and Do-Ho Suh. Kim Anderson Division of Humanities
Fortier 1 DWELLING: AN EXPLORATION OF HOME AND MEMORY "To live is to leave traces." Walter Benjamin "To speak of memories from our childhood may be a misnomer; 'memories relating to our childhood may be all we possess.'" Margaret Iversen INTRODUCTION The uncanny, as Freud describes it, is unheimlich, which translates as "unhomely." The concept explains the sensation of something appearing familiar yet uncomfortably strange. Given that the home has such a prominent part of the everyday and our self-perception, the home as an abstract idea seems to straddle the line between comfortable and uncanny. It is surprising how seldom one may think if its significance, both as a personal and as a widespread idea. The prominence of the home in one's life undoubtedly connects it to a multitude of memories that become ingrained in one's being. Gaston Bachelard, in his Poetics of Space (1958), describes the home as being composed of sentiments, experiences, and memories, while still being interpreted as a unitary place of living. Memory thus becomes intrinsic in the experience of the home; it most likely adds to its personal value, as well. Over time, however, this 'place memory' becomes detached from reality as it is detached from the present. There then lacks the reality with which one can concretely compare it, allowing it to morph into an incomplete or altered version of the original. But to the individual, it becomes the
Fortier 2 truth. Often, for positive memories, they become idealized; the past home becomes romanticized as one thinks of it nostalgically, as something to which one can never return. Through representations of the home, particularly my own childhood home, the art in this thesis highlights the discomfort and uncanniness of the merging of ideas which are usually temporally distant, stripping them of their nostalgic comfort in an effort to objectively understand the home. My art thus simultaenously explores elements that make the home what it is, asking the viewer to reinterpret them through the isolation from their usual contexts. Visual aspects of the pieces reference role and decay of memory, concentrating on fragmentation, compartmentalization, and repetition. Likewise, the traces of living and inhabitancy are emphasized as crucial aspects of the definition of a place, allowing a house to become a home. Ultimately, this combination of twoand three-dimensional artwork questions and provokes thoughts and feelings about the house and home as abstract ideas, and as personal memories and a part of one's life. Because this thesis includes my own interpretations of the home and the materializations of my own memories, images, emotions, and metaphors concerning it, I cannot deny that it is slightly autobiographical. Despite this, I hope to abolish the sentimentality of the work while keeping the intimacy and quiet of the personal, allowing it to become more relatable to a wider audience. Using commonplace building materials and keeping sculptural works more pristine in appearance allows this, since the objects become more representative
Fortier 3 than literal. This seems to be more problematic when it comes to relating these same elements in a painting, since the image generally includes more information that situates the viewer in the space (or sometimes, lack thereof). The challenge is then to emphasize elements that may be specific to my personal memory while communicating a broader message to the audience to keep the work relevant and spark a conversation between the viewer's own thoughts and memories of the home with the pieces. For instance, a pattern on tile may or may not be part of my own remembrance of past homes, but the idea that the pattern is something memorable is intrinsic in the work. I hope to also reveal a sense of the disintegration of memory through these works, with the end effect being the home as a place that is simultaneously alienating and comforting to the viewer. This thesis will explore the meaning of the home once it becomes a past entity, metaphorically becoming abandoned, while simultaneously demonstrating varying aspects of memory. Through a repeated examination of the same image source and attempted diversion from the oversentimentality of nostalgia, the works of art become uncanny. In order to understand the home more fully, I initially delve into the defintion and meaning of the home as a place. Memory emerges as an intrinsic part of the home, though it is typically nostalgic. Though nostalgia depends on a past safely lost that does not resurface, its idealizing qualities can befuddle one's perception of the memory of the home; therefore, I attempt to undermine this through making the past home quite literally present by making it physical through art. However, this makes it potentially uncanny. In order to understand
Fortier 4 and contextualize my art, I outline the history of the home, first in being tied to memory in being used as a mnemonic device and later through its portrayals and prominence in Western art. I am interested in the depictions of the house as uncanny in Edward Hopper's works, as well as the more recent, seemingly critical art of Gordon Matta-Clark. I explore the connection of place to memory through the art of Mike Kelley and Do-Ho Suh, eventually achieving a goal slightly closer to the drawings of Toba Khedoori, which represent the home through isolated, yet somehow spiritual, elements.
Fortier 5 CHAPTER 1 HOME, MEMORY, AND THE UNCANNY While the terms home and memory are quite extensive in definition, they tend to remain elusive. In general, though, it is largely agreed that home is usually linked to a physical place that is enhanced by certain emotions about that location. Oxford English Dictionary describes home as: "2. a. A dwelling place; a person's house or abode; the fixed residence of a family or household; the seat of domestic life and interests. Also (chiefly in later use): a private house or residence considered merely as a building b. Without article or possessive. The place where one lives or was brought up, with reference to the feelings of belonging, comfort, etc., associated with it". 1 The definition alone links the idea of home both to memory and to time. In thinking of the concept of the home, hence "the home" with an article as opposed to without, it seems extremely difficult to separate one's idea of "home" as explained "b". This entanglement conveyed by images of my childhood home while being conceptually driven by my remembrance of that same place. Thinking of the home often presents an architecture-related image, as the idea of the home is based on the physical structure of the house. Interestingly, though, many analyses of architecture have emphasized the nature of architecture as the identification of place; therefore, the idea of the home may stand alone. The establishment of place is based on the activities performed in a certain location. It can therefore be assumed from this that the elements of a campsite can adequately form a home. In Analysing Architecture the author describes a campsite with a 1 "home, n.1 and adj.". OED Online. March 2012. Oxford University Press. 17 April 2012 < http://www.oed.com.ezproxy.lib.usf.edu/view/Entry/87869 rskey=1NhdVN&result=1>.
Fortier 6 fire, windshield, and storage for food and fuel. Unwin concludes, "These are the basic places' of a house; they come before walls and a roof". 2 Similarly, Bachelard claims that all inhabited spaces can take on the properties of a home through the comfort these places create with the notion of protection. The imagery presented by these metaphorical deconstructions of the house and home are expressed in such works those of contemporary artist Toba Khedoori, who is known for her isolation of architectural elements in her art. On large pieces of waxed paper, her drawings tend to occupy only a fraction of the disquieting mural-sized backgrounds. She "uses the traditional language of architectural drawing to examine minutely--in fact to expose--the elements used to build a house, or an image of one," isolating the images in space and time. 3 In their solitude they become almost sacred. They appear as modern ruins, inexplicably conceived and abandoned. Although the elements shown tend to be those that are in-between or transitional, like windows, doors, and fences, the pieces in their entirety have an arrested sense of motion; the viewer becomes restrained by the overwhelming presence of the paper. The flatness creates a feeling of compression that is both inviting and repulsive. Her Untitled (Doors) 1999 (Figure 1) presents the viewer with an expanse of blank paper, in the middle of which is the intersection of two walls, though they are only defined by the line that marks their juncture and the opposing angles at which two doors are placed. Slightly ajar, the doorways reveal two separate spaces that only touch at this location; however, the mysterious rooms seem to be reflections of each other. The 2 Simon Unwin. Analysing Architecture. Routledge, 1997. 14. 3 Laura J. Hoptman. Drawing Now: Eight Propositions New York: Museum of Modern Art, 2002. 48.
Fortier 7 overall simplicity of the piece allows the position of the doors to become more meaningful, implying an abandonment or forgetfulness, a presence that is only documented in the position of these wooden obstructions to passageways. Interestingly, Khedoori's pieces are figurative in that they show structures that are specific to humans, formed by them and generally used by them, and yet people are never shown. What strongly suggest human presence, however, are the traces Khedoori leaves behind to be found in the wax of her works: dust, hair, smudges, and handprints. These poetic blemishes undermine the initial austerity of the pieces and bring to light the skin-like warmth of the wax, allowing the pieces to have a sort of duality of body and mind. Reductive portrayals of the home are conveyed in two of my triptychs, Segments (Fig. 2) and Fragments (Fig. 3), both charcoal on paper. The former is a deconstruction of the image of a house that, if combined, would form a complete image of a house. Fragments meanwhile, can never reach a state beyond its title. These drawings represent elements that are memorable or supposedly definitive of a house, emphasizing the arbitrariness of the meaning contributed to what aspects actually are remembered: the exterior siding of a house, its general outline, windows or porch. None of these elements define a house, or home, by any means. And yet, they may be the elements one remembers the most. Any one of these alone, though, emphasizes the isolation and discomfort of being able to recall certain things better than others. The loss that causes this prioritization of certain features of the home thus becomes almost palpable. The partial depiction
Fortier 8 of the house becomes "like a lost part-object, cause of desire, and so sustains our desire through the desire to see". 4 One of the drawings in Segments closely relates to a sculpture, Roof in the separation of the main protective aspect of a house from the architectural structure. The piece undermines the defining aspects of a home to which Unwin alludes. A miniature version of the roof of a house, Roof hovers slightly above the floor, as it is elevated on legs that are mostly hidden from the viewer. The roof is constructed much like those seen on actual houses, using real shingles. The idea of the complete house is thus evoked, then undermined by its absence. The roof protects nothing and connects to nothing, evoking a sense of loss. It cannot represent or protect a place of activity, and therefore cannot be called a home, regardless of the connotations typically associated with such gabled roofs. The bird's-eye view further renders the roof useless, as the viewer now towers over it. A subtle reference to natural disasters here acts as a metaphor for the passing of time and the frailty of memory, and of the roof being the only remaining part of the house, as one would see in a massive flood. It can also be seen as the aftereffect of such an event, as in an archaeological unearthing of a house. Much like Gordon Matta-Clark's Four Corners (Fig. 5), in which he sawed off the four top corners of the house he famously sawed in half in Splitting, t he aspect of rediscovery is one that is also provoked in the audience as they concentrate on the essence of the roof itself. The corners were then placed in a gallery, evoking the house that was missing. As in Matta-Clark's work, this thesis 4 Margaret Iversen. "In the Blind Field: Hopper and the Uncanny." Art History 21.3 (September 1998) 422.
Fortier 9 explores ideas of architecture and critiques the sheltering aspect of the house, though not from his aggressive, anti-functionalist point of view. Taking the corners away from the house, Matta-Clark rendered the entire remaining structure of the house futile. The corners themselves are also determined useless, a simple record of the joining of planes that made a house. Roof may evoke the opposite-not the destruction of a house, but the production of it, at least ideologically. The sense of loss is intrinsic in the piece, not actively produced in its creation. Exploring the home as an element of memory, or even as a metaphor for memory in being represented through certain aspects of remembrance, detaches it from this meaning. In considering a house or home of the past, whether or not it still exists, the exact way in which one remembers it is a fallacy. The home one recalls is comparable to an abandoned house; it is a place that no longer fulfills its original purpose. Abandoned houses, in having no definitive use, resist being truly identified as place. They become an empty shell, only being a place in one's memory. It can thus be said that the memory of a house and abandoned houses take on the same properties. Aside from its interpretation as a place defined by activity, in exploring the meaning behind the idea of the home, the general topics that consistently emerge are those related to the concepts of domesticity, comfort, intimacy, and nostalgia. The latter term connects the idea of the home to memory and the past. Interestingly, the home seems to be so intrinsically tied to the idea of memory that ancient Roman philosophers suggested the usage of the memory of one's house as a mnemonic device. 5 The house would thus become a locus for other memories, 5 Frances A. Yates. The Art of Memory Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1966. 6.
Fortier 10 and this locus could be used repeatedly for different material. As with most memories, the "images which we have placed on them for remembering one set of things fade and are effaced when we make no further use of them". 6 The home, even as a tactic for the remembrance of other ideas or images, in this sense has been strongly tied to memory and the site of the failure of memory for quite some time. A concrete example of the failure of memory, as a locus and in locus is represented in the art of Mike Kelley. The artist lets memory guide his process in The Educational Complex 1995 (Fig. 6). The small-scale sculpture reads as a composite architectural model of all the instituions in which he attended school. Claiming he has an "almost obsessive interest in memory and at the same time their interrogation of space as a primary vehicle for its repression and recovery," Kelley uses physical blocks in the model to represent the metaphorical blocks that keep one from remembering certain things, or in this case, places. 7 It is particularly interesting to contemplate how many of these blocks he has for places that he occupied for years. Although the blocks do not seem discordant with the geometric shapes of his architectural model structures, they quickly become imposing, obstructing the continuity and flow of the space. Their abundance exposes their undeniable presence as part of memory, blatantly exposing a lack that is usually comfortably ignored. The artist states that, for sculptures made in the same way as Educational Complex in which he only makes what he remembers and replaces the blanks with blocks, the blocks can comprise up to 6 Yates, 7. 7 Anthony Vidler. Warped Space: Art, Architecture, and Anxiety in Modern Culture. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2000. 161.
Fortier 11 eighty percent of the piece. Reflecting on this and how he is choosing to represent familiar places that were in his life for long periods of time, it is unnerving to realize how much and how quickly those memories can dissipate. He has claimed that all memories are fictional, since it is so difficult to disentangle them from the real. Habitually, nostalgia is the aspect of memory that tends fogs the idea of the home. Home dcor and the resurgence of past architectural styles, for instance, are some of the more obvious connections of the home to the past. While this could be interpreted as a desire for tradition, many critics attribute it to a deeper dissatisfaction with the modern world, causing a widespread imitation of the past in order to restore idealized notions that may not have ever been true. However, a "condition of such nostalgic yearning is that the past be safely lost," in which it gradually fades into the misty distance. 8 The thought of the past becomes fully ingrained in a previous period of time as one moves further away from it. The opposite, the image that "returns unbidden in the present," becomes uncanny. 9 It may be difficult to distinguish between the two, however; "Nostalgia runs imperceptibly into uncanniness. The conflation repeats exactly the peculiar relation of the unheimlich to its opposite, heimlich As Freud pointed out, the root term has a range of meanings running from homely, cosy or intimate, to hidden, secret, concealed. 'Thus heimlich is a word the meaning of which develops in the direction of ambivalence, until it finally coincides with its opposite, unheimlich .' If nostalgia is the desire for the heimlich object, then that object is likely to prove highly unstable". 10 8 Iversen, 410. 9 Iversen, 426. 10 Iversen, 426.
Fortier 12 A memory becomes nostalgic or uncanny depending on whether it fades into temporal distance or is repressed. The uncanny, "which is familiar and oldestablished in the mind and which has become alienated from it through the process of repression," is therefore a sort of denatured nostalgia. 11 The act of materializing a memory by making it physical furthers the feeling of the uncanny, bringing a mental image into the tangible sphere. While the idealization of an image creates nostalgic portrayal of a memory, addressing the incompleteness or age of that image thus presents the uncanny. One yearns to remember one's home sentimentally, but being confronted with the reality of the current state of being of that same place may be a discomforting, uncanny experience. The painting Imagined Abandonment (Fig. 7) displays the transformation of nostalgia into the uncanny. Being 32 inches high and composed of four 14inch-wide panels, makes the proportions of the painted house appear like a large dollhouse to a child. D epicting the passing of time in four different panels, the image on the far left catalyses the viewer's movement through the piece with an extreme idealized and simplified image of that segment of the house. This portrayal, with its bright hues in comparison to the rest of the panels, is reminiscent of childlike interpretations of the house, thus referencing nostalgia. It is pristine and abstract, almost as in a dream. With the color-blocked aspect of this canvas, the image almost obtains the visual modularity and sweetness of Wayne Thiebaud's images. As the eye moves from the left to the right of the painting, the progressive aging of a seemingly forgotten house is revealed. The next panel 11 Iversen, 413.
Fortier 13 more realistically depicts the next segment of the house, while the last two show its aging and later complete abandonment. This piece is quite literal in meaning, showing the idealization of the house and then coming to terms with a possible reality of it being decrepit, a metaphor for the inability to return to the past, especially one that has been so romanticized that it has transformed into fantasy. As with memory, the panels that represent points of time farthest from the present are less detailed. The first of the panels actually appears plain in comparison to the others, potentially revealing the time in one's life during which the viewer is meant to realize the original image was formed. Memory as presented in this painting is subjective, but relatable. The four panels not only separate the house visually in terms of time that has passed, but they also destabilize the sense of the house as a complete, easily interpreted image. The viewer is left to ponder the verity of each image, as well; the break between the expectation of the decrepit house as a counterbalance and compensation for the overidealized first image creates an unsettling, alienating composition. There is a sense of something missing, something past, and something lost that cannot be regained. In his discussion of the uncanny, Freud mentions that it is "in reality nothing new or alien, but something which is familiar and old-established in the mind and which has become alienated from it through the process of repression". 12 Repressed thoughts therefore return as uncanny. In a related sense, trauma is unconsciously handled by the mind through repetition. A series of fifty copper etchings on paper, mounted about an inch from the wall, Echoes (Fig. 8) is reflective of this process. Since the majority of the images in my art are derived 12 Iversen, 413.
Fortier 14 from images of my childhood home, the uncanny arises in this repetition through the thesis alone. I personally feel that the repetition of the image also eventually transforms the image of the house into an anthropomorphized representation. Being severed from this home, the repeated image remains with me. A subtle image of the rings of a tree trunk underlying each print of the house signifies this. The prints are reflections of each other, and are therefore opposing viewpoints of the same house. The majority of them are ghost images that are printed with the remnants of the ink used to make the original impression, inviting the metaphor to memory; memories often become impressions of other memories instead of the actual thing, place, or event. Also, each one is unique, representing the impossibilty of an exact repeated memory. Overall, though, the compulsive and repetitive act of contemplating a memory or memory image is emphasized. This process remains fruitless as it neglects to create a 'true' image, and yet this mental search seems to persist regardless. HOME IN ART Representations of the home are deeply ingrained throughout history, but are specifically prominent in Dutch genre paintings, nineteenth-century Realism, and twentieth-century Surrealism. Even the conceptual art of the 1970s, specifically, feminist art, reconciles with the politics of the gendering of the home. In seventeenth-century Dutch genre paintings, the home serves as a stage for characters to portray a moral message. These genre paintings are typically centered on the family unit in the domestic space, meant to serve as examples of
Fortier 15 noble behavior to the audience. Increasingly, the home becomes a standard setting from this point, seeming to become especially prominent in the nineteenth century as a result of the separation of the public and private spheres, resulting in a socalled cult of domesticity.' With the advent of modernism and the Impressionist movement, artists increasingly portrayed the home as part of everyday life and as a womanly space. The woman is often visually compared to her domestic setting in these paintings, sometimes even echoing the dcor in her clothing. Such portrayals become increasingly decorative as they became more popular; James McNeill Whistler's paintings are exemplative of this. After the turn of the century, though, not many artists continued presenting the ideal female in the domestic space. The domestic space itself seems to briefly become more prominent before artists move away from this style of painting. The home as a topic in art begins appearing in the mid-nineteenth century showing the separation of the domestic and public realms. While the home had a growing importance as a safe and private place for both males and females, this was reflected in the art of the period. Such images often include figures, and so the home is seen as representative of its owners. While the motif of the woman in a domestic space did not completely subside, the domestic space became more than just a stage. In Bedroom in Arles it is said that van Gogh used the space as a metonym for his and his talent's containment. A few decades afterward, Edward Hopper became famous for his nearly Symbolist scenes of the enactment of relationships in the domestic, or temporarily domestic in the case of his hotel settings, space.
Fortier 16 Although they are not quite as well-known or recognizable, Hopper also painted a surprising amount of houses from the exterior. He seems to ascribe personalities to these places in his depiction of them, as with his House by the Railroad, 1925 (Fig. 9), which seems portrait-like in its presence. Surrealists, taking an interest in the uncanny, apply this to familiar elements characteristic of home, undermining connotations of domestic comfort. The anti-domestic trope in art seems to have emerged from this. The trend of images from the household in photography from the late 1970s to 1980s has actually been regarded as "a narcissistic withdrawal from the world's troubles into the secure domestic cocoon". 13 The individualistic feel of the home as a subject of art seems to fade as it becomes understandable as more conceptual, less idealized, and less defined by the individual. The disillusionment as a feature of depictions of domestic spaces in the 1980s remains as a feature of contemporary art today. Even though three decades have passed and the exploration of the home in art has greatly expanded, the dystopian view of the home is a common one. It seems almost as if the home is a puzzle that one continuously undoes and reconfigures, trying to find its essential being and value within possible solutions. Postmodern art started addressing the domestic realm with a critical eye in the 1960s, with the advent of two independent movements, feminism and Pop art. This only seems to have grown from this point: "In the 1980s, widespread disillusionment with modernism's promises of a utopian future was expressed as a nostalgic fascination with an idealized past, especially with the years around mid-century 13 Peter Galassi. Pleasures and Terrors of Domestic Comfort. New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1991. 8.
Fortier 17 that comprised the childhood of most adults  A related phenomenon is the rise in art dealing with the inevitably broken promises of this simplistic domestic ideal". 14 The same author continues to say that the nostalgic depiction of the home, for example, of the Victorian house, is thus reinscribing the values of that time in the art, separating it from contemporary issues regarding the housing market.. By keeping the type of structure and location ambiguous, my work attempts to detach the art from such current events; ideally, this would make it relatable to a wider audience. Although I do acknowledge their presence and possible prominence as an interpretation the viewer may have of my work, I prefer to let those associations arise as also being related to and falling under the broader topics of memory and the uncanny in the art. In a broader sense, the sensation of loss and the irreconcilablilty of the ideal and reality are noticeable in each of these interpretations. Aspects of alienation, loss and fear thereof, as invoked by the uncanny, actually emphasize similar feelings that my art evokes, though it transcends the literal in its message. A metaphorical loss that is strongly tied to one's memory and sense of self is also intrinsic within it. The contemporary treatment of the home in art also stems from the advent of postmodernism in the 1960s. For instance, "Minimalism, installation art, performance art, land art have all engaged spatial concerns both metaphorically (in the case of discursive enquiries, or architectural 'ethnographies' as Hal Foster has recently termed them, such as those of Hans Haacke) and literally (in the case of artists such as Robert Smithson), often as well as directly acting on the architectural object (one thinks of Gordon Matta-Clark); 14 Sharon Haar and Christopher Reed. "Coming Home: A Postscript on Modernism." Not At Home: The Suppression of Domesticity in Modern Art and Architecture Reed, Christopher, ed. New York: Thames & Hudson, 1996. 258.
Fortier 18 all by implication critical of received architectural theory and practice". 15 The emphasis here is placed on the treatment of space; as an extension of that, the focus seems to shift more toward architecture. Contemporary artists such as George Shaw, Toba Khedoori, Mike Kelley, and Do-Ho Suh employ the home as a parallel to memory. While these artists typically rely on their own memories, the work can become individualistic in that sense. Despite this, such pieces often have presence that transcends the personal, stripping the images of their sentimental elements, focusing on the essence of the place or objects presented. Austere, isolated, and somber, George Shaw's paintings reflects a darker side of suburban America. These seemingly banal images are painted with a highly reflective surface, as if alluding to the artist's self-examination by exploring the places of his past. The artist treats the entire surroundings of his childhood house as his home and fluctuates between presenting the viewer with a narrow dirt path to follow or simply showing physical obstructions like gates. These quiet and evocative locations, these "unforgettable forgettable places," become immortalized in his paintings; he says, "I paint the paintings of all the times and all the thoughts I lack the language to describe...For the single moments I recall, I feel a dull sadness for the thousands I have forgotten". 16 15 Vidler, 159-161. 16 Thomas Bayrle. Vitamin P: New Perspectives in Painting. London: Phaidon, 2002. 300.
Fortier 19 CHAPTER 2 MY WORK Because this thesis includes my interpretations of the home and the materializations of my own memories, images, emotions, and metaphors concerning it, I cannot deny that it is slightly autobiographical. Despite this, I hope to abolish the expected sentimentality of such work based on my individual experience while keeping the intimacy and quiet of the personal, allowing it to become more relatable to a wider audience. Using commonplace materials reminiscent of those found in domestic spaces and keeping sculptural works more pristine in their appearance allows this, since the objects become more representative than literal. The resulting work is reductive, and in being so, flirts with the uncanny and its alienating, yet comforting aspects. This seems to be more problematic when it comes to relating these same elements in a twodimensional depiction, since the image generally includes more information that situate the viewer in the space (or sometimes, lack thereof). The challenge is then to emphasize elements that may be specific to my personal memory while communicating a broader message to the audience; for instance, a pattern on tile may or may not be part of my own remembrance of past homes, but the idea that the pattern is something memorable is intrinsic in the work. I also reveal a sense of loss, isolation, and the disintegration or alteration of memory through these works, with the end effect of the home being simultaneously alienating and comforting to the viewer.
Fortier 20 The sculpture Carpet (Fig. 10) and the painting Threshold (Fig.11) are two related works that concentrate on the figure in relation to the home. The human presence as a part of the house becomes undeniable in the traces it leaves behind, even temporarily. They each emphasize the idea of the threshold and therefore can be read as liminal and transitional. Photograph-based, the painting Threshold is ultimately the bad snapshot. Standing by the exterior door of a house, several figures are depicted with their backs to the viewer, their shadows becoming more prominent than their physical presence. They all direct their gaze downward, although there is nothing there. The image thus becomes a mystery, almost reminiscent of a crime scene or an investigation, making the exterior of the home an alienating space. The emptiness becomes a tension in the piece, and although the viewer cannot know that a figure has been removed, the effect is apparent. Memory is thus alluded to in this painting, amplifying the feeling of having to piece events together. The scene takes place at the exterior entrance of a house, as rafters are discernible, though they shift between this appearance and that of a simple pattern. The entrance to the house is open but remains inaccessible. The painting could be interpreted as being an image based on one's personal memory since the shadows are ominous, seemingly foreshadowing an absence. The scene is voyeuristic, and yet there is no narrative information offered to the viewer. There is therefore a feeling of exclusion and confusion, with the house and the shadows projected onto it being the only stable, concrete elements in the painting. This sort of ambiguity in seemingly mundane subject matter portrayed in manner reminiscent of memory is similar to the work of Luc Tuymans. In
Fortier 21 addressing memory, the artist accentuates its failure in blurring his images and using a limited palette that alludes to the color fading that occurs with print images over time. Threshold like many paintings of his, is based off of a found photograph but could easily also have been a still frame from a film or television. Although the image should be relatable, it is read as distant and cold. He states, "Pictures, if they are to have any effect, must have the tremendous intensity of silence". 17 This is especially observable in his Gas Chamber 1986 (Fig. 12), which shows a plain room, defined only by its edges and grates around the room. The painting has a stillness and a mysteriousness; it is only upon looking at the title that the viewer realizes that this is a painting of a gas chamber from World War II. Suddenly the room that could have been practically part of any other structure becomes disturbing and heavy with meaning and an incredible sadness. The ambiguity of the way in which he depicts the room causes it to have this duality of feeling and meaning. For him, pictures are always about the past and memory, echoing each other. While my own work is not as politically charged, the element of silence and detachment is similar in a visual abandonment, which I allude to in much of my art. As a floor piece, Carpet plays on a common signifier of human presence in the home: shoes placed next to the wall, facing it. Their simple presence in this location renders them useless. The rug, in covering the shoes in an almost airtight manner, represents the house's attempt to erase the presence of another being, granted that the house becomes animate in performing this action. The carpet thus acts as synecdoche for the entirety of the house, simultaneously engulfing and 17 Tony Godfrey. Painting Today. London: Phaidon Press, 2009. 274.
Fortier 22 cementing the trace of the inhabitant, in an attempt to heal itself from this intrusive other. However, the person stays connected and attached to the house; even a presence of the past cannot be forgotten. One could say the house also stays with them, or that the pleasure of nostalgia in connection to the home entices them to imagine themselves there. In a more negative sense, the piece could take on the meaning of the overprotective home from which the inhabitant becomes inseparable, and yet the person becomes obscured by it. The cemented absence in this piece is reminiscent of Rachel Whiteread's plaster casts materializing the negative space of domestic places, where lack and emptiness are made palpable. Carpet however, relies on the rug to cover the presence of the shoes, although the end result highlights their being hidden from sight. The form of the pair of shoes as presented by the rug could simply be emphasizing their ghost; this is where they should be, but are not. As Whiteread's work accomplishes, the art produced in this thesis materializes memory. House, 1995 (Fig. 13), is likely her most well-known piece. While it addresses issues of gentrification and homelessness, it also carries a larger tone of loss and memory. In casting the interior of a remaining house in a neighborhood in the process of being destroyed and then removing the shell of the house, the ghost of this space becomes tangible. The materialization of this emptiness makes the work become uncanny, yet still slightly nostalgic. The sculpture evokes unrecallable memories in the viewer as it is an object indicative of a past that cannot be thoroughly explored, thus emphasizing its uncanny aspect.
Fortier 23 Also making absence tangible is Unveil (Fig. 14) which shows an incomplete space on a large canvas, allowing the viewer to almost become part of this elusive room. Amongst a slightly embossed light green background, in which the paint handling is slightly reminiscent of the process of plastering a wall, several objects suggesting flat planes are present. Their perspectives do not necessary meet logically, creating a somewhat discomforting space. Windows are prominent elements, but they present no escape, only adding more blinding light to the image. The most voluminous and intricately depicted segment, however, is a pile of crumpled plastic sheeting. Useless, it lays on the ground in front of the large central window, covering nothing. While it does not fulfill its purpose in preserving the new, it emphasizes the abandoned nature of the space. It appears soiled while still allowing the light to become alive in it. The potential of the new is implied by the sheeting, though it is misleading and instead seems to represent an absence of hope in being unused, rendering the image desolate and empty on a level beyond the visual. As the viewer is confronted by such tensions in what is practically a non-space, the effect of time also becomes undeterminable. Even as it is supposedly between the past and the renewal, the space does not partake in the present. The conceptual idea of the house is brought up, as well as when it actually can be a home in terms of its stage of construction or abandonment. Using domestic elements as a part of the piece, Erosion (Fig. 15) is a painted image of surf encroaching on eight squares of vinyl flooring placed in two rows of four. The vinyl is simple; gray with a faux marbled effect, almost like a window. The piece is quiet in its reductive vocabulary, while still evoking the
Fortier 24 passing of time and the slow process of disintegration of things and the memory of them. There is a sort of solitude in the piece, which almost reads as flush with the floor; large enough to allow the viewer to imagine the entire space being subject to this erosion. Also, as the force of the wave stems from the direction of the viewer toward the juncture of the wall and floor, there is a sense of inevitability of the deterioration that will eventually occur. However, the passing of time as depicted here becomes almost soothing. Referencing time as water, in a sense, is also Overlap (Fig. 16). A taller roof on stilts, it conflates the past and present through its inclusion of the accumulation of now-calcified rock oysters at its base and the overlapping cedar shingles of the roof. This sculpture introduces the surroundings and environment of a house as being part of the way it is interpreted. Here, two locations are implied: the roof's steep 45-degree angle references the architecture of the northeast United States, while the blue underside of the roof is associated with the vernacular architecture and details of an old Florida house, its past emphasized by the rock oysters. Although it may not be immediately apparent, this piece is associated with displacement and the transportation and transformation of an idea the idea of the home. Contemporary artist Do-Ho Suh, originally from Seoul, South Korea, addresses displacement and the transportable aspect of the home in a more explicit manner. Replicating his childhood home down to details as small as light switches, Suh recreates the space in translucent fabric that is able to travel with him. The name of the piece, Seoul/L.A./New York/Baltimore/London Home
Fortier 25 (Fig.17) grows as it is exhibited in more places. His works are "indexical  emphasising displacement, fragmentation and discontinuity of space and time in contemporary life. Architecture emerges in these works as a dream-image, immaterial and impermanent, a site of desire, memory and longing." 18 As with Whiteread's work, though, Suh's spaces are only ever present as an absence; however, his process and constant addition to the title of the piece shows the home as nomadic and adaptable to different places, while retaining the architecture style revealing its origin. Overlap touches on the same topic, attempting to make it more concrete. Accumulation (Fig. 18) addresses similar issues, though diverting the attention to the environment of a home becoming a part of it, as with the continuously expanding title of Suh's fabric house. Mimicking a topographical landscape, the piece's domestic elements of carpet and padding extend the meaning of geographical place into that of the home. Memory is referenced in the title of the piece and in the visual allusion to the layers of carpet that are sometimes neglectfully laid over each other repeatedly over the years. Childhood Home (Fig. 19) is more of an exploration of the interior of the domestic space, attempting to understand what makes a place become a home. In reflecting on my own memories, with the exception of architectural elements, I remember patterns the most. The combination of the rug and wallpaper patterns are specific to an interior, but it does not become a home without the traces of livingwhat is left behind. Of the four overlaid Plexiglas sheets, two are painted 18 Ralph Rugoff, Brian Dillon, and Jane Rendell. Psycho Buildings: Artists Take on Architecture London: Hayward Pub, 2008. 147.
Fortier 26 representations of the patterns I recall, slightly glazed over. The remaining two display a light silhouette of a person, though barely noticeable, and another translucent sheet displaying hair, dust, and dirt. The sheets are braced together with a small amount of space so that the layers are discernable but cannot be viewed completely individually; the home is only that when it is a combination of these things. The wall installation of drawers (Fig. 20) recessing into the wall and advancing into the gallery implies accumulation in the idea of collection. The drawers in Keep however, are all empty. As in Khedoori's Untitled (Doors) a past human presence is insinuated as the drawers are unevenly pulled away from the wall. Again referencing the obsessive reflection of the same memories, it reveals this as unrewarding and pointless, as this past can never be regained. To compensate for this, it seems, memory is idealized, almost worshipped. Votive (Fig. 21) is therefore a piece that is meant to contrast Keep although the similarities are intentional. Seven wax casts of the same house are arranged in a compartmentalized wooden display box, slightly referencing the compartmentalization of memory, as well as that of the stereotypical Victorian home, which also was well-known for its display of collection and souvenirs. However, here lack is emphasized, as there are twenty-one spaces but only a third of them are occupied. The casts themselves are somewhat tainted and forgotten, tucked away and then neglected. A Place I Know Because You Knew It (Fig. 22) is a photograph-based charcoal drawing. It, too, has no corners as it depicts an attic room, which causes
Fortier 27 a sense of claustrophobia that is simultaneously comforting in the space depicted. Being a room in which the opposing angles of the roof are visible, it is the pinnacle of the house and thus implies the entirety of the form of the house simply in its space. A coat of matte gloss medium slightly obscures the image imitating an old photograph, enhanced by the tears along the sides of the piece. The viewer is confronted with an open door and the abstract shadows beyond it while being seemingly situated in a modestly decorated, small room. There is a cross on the wall and also, upon closer observation, an orb floating above the doorway.. The New England style of the room adds to the sense of being in a room that has history, of being able to feel the emptiness as a contrast to the imagined past, as does its barren nature.
Fortier 28 CONCLUSION Memory includes compartmentalization, fragmentation, and repetition, and in being anything less than idealized through nostalgia, it seems to threaten to become uncanny, or at least to have similar alienating effects. The home as a visual symbol remains a personal conglomeration of signifiers for an individual, combined with hints of human presence. The combination of these aspects is haunting and isolating, while still providing an inexplicable solace in being one's own. Although my thesis show does not include some of the more literal pieces made as an exploration of this topic, these more explicit interpretations of time and memory, as in Imagined Abandonment and A Place I Knew, seem to have been a necessary part of the process. From this point, I was then able to adopt a more reductive vocabulary that addressed the issues of the definition of home and the intangibility of memory in a less direct manner, allowing more room for contemplation for the viewer. The sense of loss, both of a physical home and of time, and maybe of one's self in the past, becomes more of a common, relatable thread in my art as a result.
Fortier 29 WORKS CITED Attlee, James, Feuvre, L. Le, and Gordon Matta-Clark. Gordon Matta-Clark:The Space Between Tucson, AZ: Nazraeli Press, Inc. Bachelard, Gaston. The Poetics of Space New York: Orion Press, 1964. Bayrle, Thomas. Vitamin P: New Perspectives in Painting: Tomma Abts, Franz Ackermann, Nader Ahriman London: Phaidon, 2002. Bernadac, Marie-Laure, and Louise Bourgeois. Louise Bourgeois Paris: Flammarion, 1996. Borys, Stephen D, Susanna Newbury, and Alexander Grogan. Trace Elements: New Work at Oberlin Oberlin, Ohio: Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin College, 2005. Bourgeois, Louise, Frances Morris, Paulo Herkenhoff, and Marie-Laure Bernadac. Louise Bourgeois New York, N.Y: Rizzoli, 2008. Fang, Alexander. "At Home with Zarina." Inside/Out 4 Nov. 2010. MoMA Web. 12 Mar. 2012. Fitz-Simons, Casey. "'Families: Rebuilding, Reinventing, Recreating' at the Euphrat Museum of Art." Artweek 28 (Fall 1997): 20. Galassi, Peter. Pleasures and Terrors of Domestic Comfort New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1991. Gober, Robert, Richard Flood, Gary Garrels, and Ann Temkin. Robert Gober: Sculpture + Drawing Minneapolis, Minn: Walker Art Center, 1999. Godfrey, Tony. Painting Today London: Phaidon Press, 2009. Haar, Sharon and Christopher Reed. "Coming Home: A Postscript on Postmodernism." Not At Home: The Suppression of Domesticity in Modern Art and Architecture. Reed, Christopher, ed. New York, New York: Thames and Hudson, 1996. 253-273. Hoptman, Laura J. Drawing Now: Eight Propositions. New York: Museum of Modern Art, 2002. "home, n.1 and adj.". OED Online. March 2012. Oxford University Press. 17 April 2012 < http://www.oed.com.ezproxy.lib.usf.edu/view/Entry/87869 rskey=1NhdVN&resu lt=1>. Iversen, Margaret. "In the Blind Field: Hopper and the Uncanny." Art History 21.3 (September 1998): 409-429.
Fortier 30 Kim, Elaine H, Margo Machida, and Sharon Mizota. Fresh Talk, Daring Gazes: Conversations on Asian American Art Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003. Painter, Colin. Contemporary Art and the Home Oxford: Berg, 2002. Riley, Terence. "Architecture Hot and Cold." MoMA : 3.7 (Oct 2000): 10-13. Rugoff, Ralph, Brian Dillon, and Jane Rendell. Psycho Buildings: Artists Take on Architecture .London: Hayward Pub, 2008. Rybczynski, Witold. Home: A Short History of an Idea New York, N.Y., U.S.A: Viking, 1986. Schimmel, Paul. Robert Gober The Museum of Contemporary Art: Los Angeles. 1997. Storr, Robert, Louise Bourgeois, Paulo Herkenhoff, and Allan Schwartzman. Louise Bourgeois London: Phaidon Press, 2003. Qualls, Larry. "Louise Bourgeois: The Art of Memory." Performing Arts Journal 16.3 (Sept 1994): 38-45. Townsend, Chris, and Rachel Whiteread. The Art of Rachel Whiteread London: Thames & Hudson, 2004. Tuymans, Luc, Madeleine Grynsztejn, and Helen A. Molesworth. Luc Tuymans San Francisco: San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 2009. Tuymans, Luc, and Ulrich Loock. Luc Tuymans London: Phaidon, 2003. Unwin, Simon. Analysing Architecture Routledge, 1997. Vidler, Anthony. Warped Space: Art, Architecture, and Anxiety in Modern Culture Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2000. Vitamin D: New Perspectives in Drawing London: Phaidon, 2005. Wagner, Anne M. "Splitting and Doubling: Gordon Matta-Clark and the Body of Sculpture." Grey Room 14 (Winter 2004): 26-45.
Fortier 31 Whiteread, Rachel, James Lingwood, and Jon Bird. House London: Phaidon, 1995. Whiteread, Rachel, Lisa Dennison, and Craig Houser. Rachel Whiteread: Transient Spaces New York, N.Y.:Guggenheim Museum Publications, 2001. Yates, Frances A. The Art of Memory Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1966. Zwirner, David. "Art in Review; Toba Khedoori." New York Times 25 June 1999.
Fortier 31 FIGURE PLATE Figure 1. Khedoori, Toba. Untitled (Doors) 1999. Oil paint and wax on paper, 138 x 191 1/2 in. Figure 2. Fortier, Eugnie. Segments 2012. Triptych, each 30 x 22 in.
Fortier 32 Figure 2. Segments 2012 (details).
Fortier 33 Figure 3. Fortier, Eugnie. Fragments 2012. Triptych, each 22 x 30 in.
Fortier 34 Figure 4. Fortier, Eugnie. Roof 2011. W ood, asphalt shingles. 44.5 x 45 x 17 in. Figure 5. Matta-Clark, Gordon. Splitting : Four Corners 1974. Installation of building fragments dimensions variable.
Fortier 35 Figure 6. Kelley, Mike. The Educational Complex 1995 (detail). Synthetic polymer, latex, foam core, fiberglass, and wood, 57 3/4 192 3/16 96 1/8 in. (146.7 488.2 244.2 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York Figure 7. Fortier, Eugnie. Imagined Abandonment 2011. Oil on canvas, 4 panels, each 32 x 14 in.
Fortier 36 Figure 8. Fortier, Eugnie. Echoes 2012. 142 x 52 x 1 in.
Fortier 37 Echoes 2012 (details).
Fortier 38 Figure 9. Hopper, Edward. House by the Railroad, 1925. Oil on canvas, 24 x 29 in. Figure 10. Fortier, Eugnie. Carpet, 2011.
Fortier 39 Figure 11. Fortier, Eugnie. Threshold 2011. 24 x 36 in. Figure 12. Tuymans, Luc. Gas Chamber, 1986. 24 x 32 in.
Fortier 40 Figure 13. Whiteread, Rachel. House 1993. Figure 14. Fortier, Eugnie. Unveil, 2011.
Fortier 41 Figure 15. Fortier, Eugnie. Erosion 2011. Figure 16. Fortier, Eugnie. Overlap 2012. 58 x 38 x 36 in.
Fortier 42 Figure 17. Suh, Do-Ho. Seoul/L.A./New York/Baltimore/London Home, 1999. Silk, 149 x 240 x 240 inches. Figure 18. Fortier, Eugnie. Accumulation, 2012. 72 x 36 in.
Fortier 43 Figure 19. Childhood Home 2012. 32 x 20 in. Figure 20. Fortier, Eugnie. Keep 2012. Approximately 108 x 75 in. Individual drawers approximately 16 x 8 in, 0.5-14.5 in deep.
Fortier 44 Figure 21. Fortier, Eugnie. Votive 2012. Figure 22. Fortier, Eugnie. A Place I Knew Because You Knew It 2011.