One of my best friends is Portuguese designer and installation artist, Ana Brotas. She’s incredibly talented, and has exhibited as part of Depford X, Camberwell Arts Festival and has had her video works shown all over the world as part of the Cologne International Videoart Festival.
A common theme in her work is domestic objects, their design and how we interact with them.
An ice house that gradually melts untrapping small pieces of furniture
Stills from the video «Inhabitant»
Appropriation of a Space
It is becoming more and more regular to move home, so people are forced to create and recreate constantly their homes in completely strange places. This makes the relationship between an inhabitant and their personal comfort a very complicated one, and through this exercise I explored different ways to obtain a feeling of ownership. «Inhabitant» was an aesthetic performance done in an unused industrial site in London where I lived in 2009.
We planned a trip to the Greek Islands together and collaborated long distance on a creative project for when we arrived. We were interested in ideas of friendship and community which are expressed culturally in different ways around the world. In the Greece and the Mediterranean, there is an outdoor, neighbourly culture whereby people put little chairs on the streets outside their homes, to converse with neighbours, remark to passersby, and generally observe the goings on of the neighbour hood. We were also interested in the aesthetics of these places, with their limited colour pallets, higgeldy piggeldy houses and narrow streets. So strongly reminiscent of dolls houses.
Thus we hit upon the idea of the Community Dollshouse Project. To create the site specific installation we collected wooden dolls house furniture kits and painted everything white. Once the furniture was assembled we installed it in a location perched in the crags of a cliff on the path beneath the ‘real life’ size Greek town of Fira. It was positioned low to the ground, in the hopes that it would attract the attention of children before being noticed by adults, preoccupied with adult concerns. The idea is that the dollhouse is a shared asset for local children.
See below the setting on a grand scale. Our tiny installation on the cliff side path mimics the white houses above.
I think the results of the first exercise were fantastic and we have big plans to expand the scope of the project and bring it to other cities!