In the House: The House Party

09/12/2012 4:00 AM |

The House Party • The Boiler

You will enter through sliding glass doors from the back porch, as if slyly sneaking in, then encounter mixed revelry, dizzied cheer, meaningful minglings, states of sin. Here, scene, setting and cabinetry alike might feel strangely, perhaps pleasantly familiar. And all of these things, including you in their midst, are the point.

Your locus will be Andrew Ohanesian’s The House Party (Sep 14–Nov 18), a prodigious installation that’s at once the artist’s most structurally ambitious and conceptually humble work. Still in the throes of construction at the time of this writing—the cable company called while I was there—Ohanesian’s House, which shall achieve its consummate form at the opening Party, might also be his most timely and properly situated piece to date.

“The spaces we live and work in define us,” Ohanesian said when I visited his construction site, cram-nestled and clog-jammed almost un-site-specifically into the lower register of the vertically formidable Pierogi annex The Boiler. “Spaces can change us, too,” he continued, “and that’s what I like to explore.”

Ohanesian’s past explorations of this interactively spatio-transformative sort include a row house built inside English Kills; a street-to-backyard conduit of airport infrastructure running through the basement of Famous Accountants; and a famously intimate, or intimately infamous, bar-cum-confessional booth that has traveled extensively enough to have issued many thousands of pint-sized Hail Marys. Those pieces’ plenarily firm conceptual undergirding, however, is what the artist has resisted in creating The House Party. Here, mere verisimilitude is not enough (though the functional plumbing and fullness of scale is impressive); neither are mere “house versus home” connotations, yet the artist is aware of their abundant relevance in an election year so mired in foreclosures, credit crises and financial schemes—under the umbrella of employment-and possession-defined American Dreams.

One could find a house like this in any suburb. In New York it appears alien, quaint. It is nonetheless a definitively quotidian sort, and perhaps indicative of the ideals as well as the fears of the era of its birth—that of the cookie-cutter suburban communities that began to spread expeditiously during the Cold War. Indeed, tucked into the post-industrial guts of The Boiler, this House is not unlike an end-times bunker. So make haste to the opening and party accordingly. For the Party, too, is critical.

You can follow Paul D’Agostino on Twitter @postuccio