Photo by Cauleen Smith

This House Is Not a Home

Curated by Laura Shaeffer and John Preus

Opening reception February 25 from 6 to 11 pm
Music by Zamin
Red Flags Host Alberto Aguilar
Dan Peterman in the HPK


The word conjures up images of chicken soup and stale bread, joyous family life and crippling alienation, boredom and invention, brotherly love and sibling rivalry… Perennial and immanent, local and metaphysical, nostalgic and future-oriented, the images and memories of home are a conglomerate of emotion-laden things, spaces, visions, and the people and gods that inhabit them. The homemaker is tasked with the alchemy of arrangement, with flooding physical space with care, with hosting and inviting conviviality, with setting the stage for the performance of selfhood. The carpenter and architect build according to the imagined contours of the human spirit, and its propensities to dwell beyond its own shape. The “Homeland” is the place where one was a child, and where our politics are formed with their personal and collective fences and breaches. Home is the place, imagined or real, to which we are reconciled, and are always in the process of losing.

This House Is Not a Home.

As is true of all idiomatic speech, this house is not a home has a popular meaning divergent from its literal one. It suggests a missing element, and can function as a question or suggestion, or a way to test the water for shared values, or a shorthand for an unexamined point of view, or a surreptitious way of saying something distasteful. All sorts of politics are possible in the space between house and home. Idioms allow the speaker and listener to communicate without saying too much, through a series of suggestive but retractable commitments. Similarly, SHOP functions as an idiomatic space that suggests but does not demand certain uses. It evokes certain associations without insisting upon them. It awaits the will and energy of other subjects and bodies to take up the task of turning the place into a home, whatever that may be.

The theme for this exhibition was inspired by our temporary occupation of the Fenn House, once single family mansion turned rental. SHOP will leave Fenn house in the spring as First Unitarian Church has decided to put the house on the market, and the University being the most likely buyer. SHOP will again become nomadic, and in an embrace of that eventuality we invited artists to propose work that responds to the concept of home writ large, and collapses or amplifies the friction between house and home, between museum and domestic space, between public and private. The exhibition asks what is home to the exiled, the abandoned, the gypsy, the foreclosed… the homeless? What is home within a market that treats a house like a commodity, a stage set for the interchange of social capital? How does one address the gap between gated community and housing project? What would homeland security look like? What does this community need right now? Local and international artists responded with work about…

  • home as an organizational model, an institutional structure
  • domestic monuments and the dignity of homemaking, family life and raising children
  • home as utopia, dystopia
  • identity, and family of origin issues
  • domestic relationships and their material dimensions, spatial dynamics, and gestural residue
  • prisoners within the prison industrial complex and their memories of home
  • the poetics of space
  • zoning laws and their effects on community
  • home as slow culture
  • protecting the homeland
  • parenting in a world short on optimism and anticipatory grief
  • social interventions
  • educational experimentation

Participating Artists in No Particular Order

Albert Stabler and Bridget Bancroft • Jim Duignan and Watie White • Jessica Drogosz • Matt Joynt • Kate Baird • Julia Oldham • Norman Teague • Doug Shaeffer • Maxime Clusel • Rachel Herman • Alberto Aguilar • Michael Webster • Crystal Gregory • David Schalliol • Laurie Jo Reynolds • Heather Mekkelson • Tara Lynn Morton • Alexa de Togne • Maia Cruz Palileo • Rebecca Beachy • Adam Grossi • Shawn Greene and Katrin Asbury • Cauleen Smith • Orron Kenyetta • Mary King • David Durstowitz • Marvin Tate • Vicky Yen • Emily Segal • Chris Lin and Kayce Bayer • Kevin Reiswig