artist / participant
opening: Saturday, November 10, 2007
(West Hollywood, October 15) As part of its ongoing mission to engage the Schindler House as a living art object, the MAK Center for Art and Architecture presents Victor Burgin’s The Little House. This conceptual artwork sets an 18th century story, Jean-François de Bastide’s libertine novella “La Petite Maison,” within the rooms and grounds of the Modernist landmark. As visitors move through the Schindler House, they will hear scenes from the novella, which describes the seduction of a virtuous woman swayed by a sumptuous décor. The Little House opens on Saturday, November 10, 2007 and remains on view through February 24, 2008. Opening events coincide with the MAK Center’s annual free public day, MAK Day 2007, and include a public panel at 2:00 p.m. and a reception from 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Victor Burgin’s The Little House brings together a book about a building and an iconic building, using the affects of each to mutually imbue their meanings. Jean-François de Bastide’s “La Petite Maison” (1758) interweaves its seduction story with a guide to interior decoration. Commissioned by an architect to attract and educate potential clients, the “little house” of Bastide’s title was a type of mansion used by the wealthy as a refuge for clandestine liaisons. The evocative audio of Burgin’s piece describes opulent interiors, decorated with the utmost refinement and the “latest” in 18th century taste. As visitors regard Schindler’s 1922 architectural innovations, they will hear of temples and pagodas, obelisks and labyrinths, Chinoiserie, brocades, porcelains and chandeliers. The audio script, derived from a 2005 video presentation seen at Christine Burgin Gallery in New York, departs from the 18th century in one instance. In the “salon” section, visitors will hear a description of Pauline Schindler’s studio as it appeared in a vintage 1920s photograph.
Rudolph Schindler’s Kings Road House offers a resonant setting for The Little House. Widely acknowledged as the first Modernist house in California, the home-and-studio was created to be shared by two couples, making it socially, as well as architecturally, radical. Described as a “design for living,” the Schindler House was a refuge for the 1920s social, artistic and political vanguards. Much as 18th century aesthetes lavished attention on their gardens, the Schindler House transforms outdoor spaces into garden “rooms,” complete with fireplaces. While the richness of de Bastide’s interiors sharply contrast with Schindler’s stark simplicity, the fetishizing of décor in “La Petite Maison” can be compared with the contemporary mania for design. Burgin uses background music by 18th century composer Jean-Phillipe Rameau to accompany his story. By choosing a piano rendition (not yet invented in the composer’s time), he commemorates the piano Pauline Schindler kept in her studio, further tying together the Rococo and Modernist eras.
Over the past thirty-five years, British artist Victor Burgin has been highly influential as a theorist of the still and moving image. Burgin first came to prominence in the late 1960s as one of the originators of Conceptual Art. Initially working mainly in photography, he turned to digital video when the technology became available in the early 1990s. Burgin is Professor Emeritus of History of Consciousness at the University of California, Santa Cruz; his academic books include The Remembered Film (2004), In/Different Spaces: place and memory in visual culture (1996), Some Cities (1986), The End of Art Theory: criticism and postmodernity (1986), and Thinking Photography (1982). This will be his first major exhibition in Los Angeles.
At 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, November 10, the MAK Center will present a panel on Victor Burgin’s The Little House. In addition to the artist, panelists will include Anthony Vidler, architectural historian and Dean, School of Architecture, Cooper Union; Leslie Dick, novelist and Co-Director of the CalArts Program in Art; and Leo Braudy, University Professor and Bing Professor of English at the University of Southern California and well-known author of studies on celebrity, masculinity, and Hollywood. An opening reception will follow from 5:30-7:30 p.m.
The Little House will be on view at the MAK Center for Art & Architecture from November 10, 2007 through February 24, 2008. The MAK Center is located at the Schindler House, 835 N. Kings Road in West Hollywood. Public hours are Wednesday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. On November 10, MAK Day 2007, there will be no admission charge. Regular admission is $7/$17 with the guide book, Schindler By MAK; students and seniors, $6/$16 with book; free for Friends of the Schindler House and on Fridays, 4 to 6 p.m. Parking is available at the public structure at the northeast corner of Kings Road and Santa Monica Boulevard. For further information, the public may contact www.MAKcenter.org or call (323) 651-1510.
Victor Burgin’s The Little House at the Schindler House
Conceptual artist merges architecture and literature in audio work