This week’s ‘image of the week’ is Elaine Byrne’s installation RAUMPLAN, currently showing at Limerick City Gallery of Art.
The central element to this installation, is a hive-like form entitled ‘Endless Interrogation’, the work making reference to 1920’s architect Friedrick Kiesler’s unrealised life project the ‘Endless House’.
The ‘Endless House’ was to be Kiesler’s exemplar. A house that retained its plasticity, merging with its environment and amplifying it: Light should, he argued, be allowed to reach every corner of the room without being broken up by corners and interior walls. Made-up of a double curved shell, the interior was left open to be re-shaped at will. Kiesler’s plans were fluid and unscripted, more automatic than pragmatic, advocating an elastic capability to buildings, one capable of responding to the lives of its occupants. This form of plasticity was mutable, it interchanged with its environment, basing its core principles on the organic. As such his membership of De Stijl in the 1920’s sits oddly, and though advocating plasticity in art, De Stijl stuck to a form of plasticity, a ‘neoplasticism’, that called for the reduction of all composition to the objective elements of form and colour (vertical and horizontal lines using only primary colours). Piet Mondrian, in his essay “Neo-Plasticism in Pictorial Art” writes:
“This new plastic idea will ignore the particulars of appearance, that is to say, natural form and colour. On the contrary, it should find its expression in the abstraction of form and colour, that is to say, in the straight line and the clearly defined primary colour”. (1)
Kiesler’s practice, rather, is framed in terms of the organic; curves, rather than line, a subjective form (rather than an objective one), informed by the landscape and body:
“All ends meet in the “Endless” as they meet in life. Life’s rhythms are cyclical. All ends of living meet during twenty-four hours, during a week, a lifetime. They touch one another with the kiss of time. They shake hands, stay, say goodbye, return through the same or other doors, come and go through multi-links, secretive or obvious, or through the whims of memory.” (2)
In RAUMPLAN, Kiesler’s aspirational architecture and his links to De Stijl are explored. Byrne’s installation realises a sequence of alternative ‘houses’, one based on the logical objectivism of line, form, and colour; except here the artist includes a host of ‘objects’ (these are often 2D representations – pictures) that imply ‘home’. The hard lines of De Stijl are off-set with a still-life scene, a holy water font, and a figurine. The mutability between environment, body, belief, and dwelling, have been allowed into the rigidity of line in the De Stijl house. In contrast, Byrne’s iteration of Kiesler’s ‘Endless House’ appears to cocoon the inhabitant, rather than provide an extension of self, or for that matter, a merging of self with environment. The house is organic certainly, but as in all things organic, it is functional rather than aspirational.
In RAUMPLAN Byrne has merged several significant ideologies and proven that, simply put: Home is where you make it.
(1) Piet Mondrian (1917-1918), “Neo-Plasticism in Pictorial Art”, Translated from the Dutch by Hans L.C. Jaffé. In De Stijl. (H.N. Abrams. New York:1971).
(2) Sveiven, Megan (2011), “AD Classics: Endless House / Friedrick Kiesler” 11 Apr 2011. ArchDaily. Accessed 20 Oct 2014. <http://www.archdaily.com/?p=126651>
Elaine Byrne’s ‘Ramplan’ runs at Limerick City Gallery of Art from 26th September to 18th November 2014. Installation images courtesy of Limerick City Gallery of Art. All rights the artist.
This exhibition was covered by IMEALL on TG4, see link: http://www.tg4.tv/index.html?s=Imeall&l=en