Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Rachel Whiteread creates lasting memories.

House by Rachel Whiteread
1993, concrete cast inside a house
Originally in East London, now demolished

First of all, I can't even begin to tell you how excited I am to write this post. Not because I love Rachel Whiteread (though I do), but because it shows how I currently have a minute of freedom from school (though not long-lasting)! Rachel Whiteread is a British artist and is most famous for the piece above. This piece was so controversial, monumental, and ground-breaking (literally), she won the Turner Prize, bceoming the first woman in fact to do so.

House is both easy to explain, though incredibly hard to explain at the same time. Let me explain, ha! For the process Rachel essentially filled the interior of an old Victorian terraced house in East London with concrete, then removed the physical house leaving a eerie yet breathtaking scultpure. So basically, she reversed the negative/positive space of the house itself. Kind of insane when you really stop and think about it. The process was extremely difficult and took a while to complete, but when it was done it just stood there with this absolute pressence for the world to see.

What's so amazing about this piece is the part that hardest to adequately describe, though I'll try. First of all, some people might get all pissed off saying, "This is NOT art." Okay, that is a topic that is such a hard thing to explain, but the idea is this is most definitely art, but perhaps me saying it's inadvertently art will put you more at ease. This piece, though relatively simple to look at, possesses so many concepts it's really just crazy. Take the doors for instance, what once used to lead into the interior of the house is now a sealed piece of concrete, allowing no visitors into the solidified house. What once welcomed and held people's belongings, memories, and life now houses concrete and there is no way in.

Furthermore, a house that is empty is somewhat depressing, desolate, and brings emotions of vacancy. While this can be thought to be negative, I look at it completely different. When I house for sale, I see an opportunity for a new family to create new memories in a place that once held other's memories. Building upon past times of both joy and sorrow a 'used' house is as exciting as getting clothes from Salvation Army. Who wore them? Where did they go? Who did they meet? What memories did they make while wearing the clothes? Memories. Perhaps that's the main reason House holds my attention. This sealed off, empty, vacant house isn't depressing at all, instead it positively holds the memories of those who lived inside- forever.

Rachel Whiteread creates lasting memories. 

P.S. For a great short video on the process as well as some of her own commentary click here.

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting story, I watched the video. If one considers the ability to provoke deep thoughtand feelings a partial criteria for naming something a piece of art, then this does qualify. As I viewed it and read your description, I was definitely intrigued. Making of the positives into negative impressions and vice versa via the concrete filling. Representing a solid image that holds memories imbedded deep in a hardened mass meant to last forever, permanence. Then I saw her video and understood the humongous undertaking this was for her and then I read that it was demolished! What a pity, what a waste. Having put so much of oneself into something... that must feel awful.