Real Estate: Dwelling in Contemporary Art presents the work of contemporary artists working with or responding to the varying aspects of real estate vernacular—buildings, rooms, structures, monuments, properties and houses. From the monumental to ubiquitous building, the ordinary, or derelict piece of property to the historic site, architectural details or the room itself, the artists presented in Real Estate consider an array of norms that fall under the much broader term of “architecture”. With a rich history of artworks as the exhibition’s inspiration—for example Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s “Wrapped Reichstag”, Charles Simonds’ miniature cities, Eugène Atget’s photographs of Paris, Trisha Brown’s “building walks” or Marcel Duchamp’s “16 Miles of String”—Real Estate will display a constellation of artworks, including sculptures, photographs, paintings, films and videos from the 1960s to today.
The visual and intellectual connections in this exhibition begin with our collective awareness of the infinite variations of building types: big and small, old and new, totally extravagant, urban, rural, modern, historic, industrial, residential, made ad-hoc with immediacy by people without shelter, double-wide or very tall. Contemporary art as well is no stranger to endless possibilities. Real Estate reveals responses by 15 contemporary artists to an array of places and spaces.
In some cases the artworks in the exhibition focus on a building of architectural, historical or cultural significance, namely Constantin and Laurene Leon Boym’s “Buildings of Disaster” which mimic tourist souvenirs, but in the form of infamous buildings. Artist interventions are seen with Gordon Matta-Clark’s seminal 1974 film “Splitting” which documents a house slowly being cut in half. Or in Lucy Gunning’s “Climbing around My Room” from 1993, a seven-minute video of a woman traversing the perimeter of a room without touching the floor. Photography plays a significant role in Real Estate with a range of works including Ed Ruscha’s groundbreaking book “Every Building on the Sunset Strip”, Bernd and Hilla Becher’s industrial typologies and Michael Mergen’s smartly conceived series entitled “1600 Pennsylvania Avenue” documenting buildings across the US that share the address of the White House. In these examples, as with other artworks in Real Estate, the artist’s impetus is those essential architectural spaces that we visit, inhabit, socialize or work in daily.