Personal Space: Art, Architecture, and Body

What is personal space? Is it the immediate area surrounding one’s body or is it more specific such as the home? Or is personal space essentially one’s bodily relationship to something else; or in a sense an undefinable aura that calls attention to our own physicality and presence within the world? Let’s take a look at four important contemporary artists who heighten the viewer’s perception and relationship to objects through the use of architecture- architecture serving as a universal means of physical human relationship, measurement, and cultural associations.

Rachel Whiteread: These sculptures of cast buildings and architectural elements appear to be monolithic because of their density and minimalism; however they are of human scale design. Whiteread’s works make the familiar unfamiliar by giving physical presence to the once empty space either inside or around these objects. They hold a resemblance to what they were but their utilitarian purpose is now stripped away; in turn questioning our physical relationship with these commonly used objects and redefining how we interact with them now.

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Untitled (Fire Escape), Mixed media, 289 3/4 x 215 3/8 x 236 3/8 in, 2002

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House, concrete 1993

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Untitled (Domestic), mixed media, 266 1/8 x 299 7/8 x 96 1/2 in, 2002

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Ghost, Plaster on steel frame, 106 x 140 x 125 in, 1990 {all above images Luhring Augustine Gallery}

Do Ho Suh: The ethereal, translucent, fabric sculptures by Do Ho Suh convey personal themes of dislocation, displacement, and alienation. The subject of these sculptures is the home; a place of significance for Do Ho Suh, because of his personal experiences with immigration. The thin weightlessness of the sculptures causes them to appear unstable and transitory. Like clothing or a tent the malleability of these soft structures suggests they can be easily carried which reflects the artist’s own desire to carry around his own intimate space. The life size scale of these works further draws attention to how the viewer inhabits and occupies the space.

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Staircase-V, polyester and stainless steel tubes, dimensions variable, 2008

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Seoul Home/L.A. Home/New York Home/Baltimore Home/London Home/Seattle Home/L.A. Home, silk, 149 x 240 x 240 in, 1999

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The Perfect Home II (detail), translucent nylon, 110 x 240 x 516, 2003

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The Perfect Home II (detail), translucent nylon, 110 x 240 x 516 in, 2003

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Blueprint, translucent nylon, 542.01 x 264.02 x 108.45 in, 2010 {Lehmann Maupin}

Andrea Zittel: The modular micro-environments Andrea Zittel fabricates speak directly to the physical relationships we have with our surroundings reflected by the daily acts of living. Zittel creates homes, furniture, and vehicles that call attention to order, simplicity, and serve a specific function. The Modernist design of these environments is stunning. Zittel aims to blend the boundaries of art and life by creating these utilitarian artworks.

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A-Z Comfort Units

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A-Z 1993 Living Units

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A-Z Homestead unit from A-Z West with Raugh Furniture, 2004

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A-Z Homestead Unit at A-Z West, 2003  {Andrea Zittel}

Katrin Sigurdardottir: Physical space becomes extremely apparent in the architectural sculptures of Katrin Sigurdarottir. The works are visually gorgeous and though they are intricately detailed the white washed quality adds simplicity drawing attention to the physical relationship of the architecture to the space. The spaces Katrin creates are slightly off and uncomfortable for example in Hôtel de Cabris  the viewer enters through a life size door, but as they continue into the structure the possibility of exiting through adjacent doors diminishes as the scale of the work shrinks in size. Our perception of physical space is continually fractured in Katrin’s works.

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Ellefu, installation view at Eleven Rivington, NY, 2012
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Stairway, Hallway, hydrocal and wood, 46 x 25 x 17 in, 2012
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Boiseries (Hôtel de Cabris) (detail), mixed media site-specific installation Metropolitan Museum of Art, dimensions variable, 2010
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Boiseries (Hôtel de Cabris) (detail), mixed media site-specific installation Metropolitan Museum of Art, dimensions variable, 2010
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Untitled, mixed media 111 x 114.25 x 114.25 in, 2009
{Eleven Rivington}

Note: Look forward to seeing more of Katrin Sigurdardottir as she will be representing Iceland in the upcoming 2013 Venice Biennial. 

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