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EXPORT, VALIE. Facing a Family, 1971. VALIE EXPORT Catalogue of the moving exhibition. Ed. Éditions de L’Oeil. Montreuil: 2003. (p73)
Although exceeding these terms, the work of VALIE EXPORT, can be analyzed for its relation with the house/home. Particularly, the TV-Action work from 1971, “Facing a Family”, a piece of broadcasting video art in which a family is recorded watching television, and the viewer becomes the object of the family’s gaze, while the family is the object of the viewer. This program was transmitted live through Austrian television, and the viewers could be other middle-class families watching television. By creating an eternal loop, VALIE EXPORT talks about the objectification of the family as a bourgeois ideal; the domesticity as a spectacle (as much as in the Dutch windows) and the incidence of the media into the family. In addition, she is 30 years ahead to problematics posed by Reality television.
From the point of view of the terms used in this bibliography, VALIE EXPORT is talking about the home. The home as an idea, with the objectification of the family and a place that needs sources of energy from outside. In this case, the external source of energy is communication. The question that follows this statement was formulated by Michel de Certeau: what do they make of what they “absorb,” receive, and pay for? What do they do with it?
Abramović, Marina. Echanger les rôles and Relation dans l’espace. Abramović, Marina. Sur la Voie. Musée National d’Art Moderne Georges Pompidou. Paris: 1990. (p50-65)
The first piece reviewed, Echanger les rôles, is a performance from 1975. At that time, Marina Abramović had been working as an artist for ten years. She found a woman that work as a prostitute in Amsterdam, and proposed to her that they exchange roles: the other woman would occupy her place as an artist, in a gallery, and Abramović would be in the window that she uses for exhibit herself. This piece raises questions about the role of the woman, and the role of the worker woman (as an artist, as a prostitute); the use of the space; the idea of exhibition and the women as spectacle, among others.
The second piece is also a performance from 1976, created for the Venice Biennal, called Relation dans l’espace. Marina Abramović and her partner Ulay walk in opposite directions in a space, both naked. When they collide, they interact, but they never each completely find each other. Both are looking for their place in that space and with the other person, but its impossibility made their search each time more violent. They are naked as a way to show their absence of discourses and the truth of their intentions, but the piece shows their frustration when they can not merge one into another or with the space, both situations outside to the body.
bonus track (trissssssssste)
De Mare, Heidi. “Domesticity in dispute. A reconsideration of sources.” At home :an Anthropology of Domestic Space. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1999. edited by Irene Cieraad (p. 13-30).
This article questions the common assumption of the Dutch domesticity in the seventeenth century, as represented in painting and literature, as something inherently idyllic and peaceful. De Mare explains that that interpretation appears in the nineteenth century, always connected with highly gendered discursive practices about domestic space, as a bourgeois product, regarding the burgher as a historical category. The construction of Dutch domesticity was founded in the configuration of a private and safe space for women, opposed to the dangerous public one, where house cleaning was exposed as metaphor for moral purity. That model was exported to the rest of the world, especially to the United States.
Heidi De Mare contextualize Dutch painting of the seventeenth century with architectural treatises regulating the order and disposition of the bourgeois house, stressing the management and use of each space, with the aim to create ‘sovereign spaces’. With the same intention, moral treatises of the time emphasized space as a source of honor (or disgrace) in everyday life, and considers interiors as public spaces. She argues that the subjective interpretation of domestic space as apposed to the public one appears only in the nineteenth century, but the spatial division between the indoor and outdoor world belongs to the seventeenth one.
In terms of this review, the important topic for the seventeenth century in Dutch paintings is about the house, but the discourse built with those images in the nineteenth century, which prevailing until now, is about the home.
Hayden, Dolores. The Grand Domestic Revolution :A History of Feminist Designs for American Homes, Neighborhoods, and Cities. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1981. (p1-29)
The introduction of this important book examines the materialistic basis of the first feminists in the United States, called by Hayden ‘material feminists’. Dolores Hayden argues that the first feminists challenged the previous ideas about woman’s sphere and woman’s work, calling into question the division between domestic and political economy, and the boundaries between domestic and public space.
Being sex the basic category of social breakup, domestic space appears principally as a economic division based on the exploitation of an unpaid labor force. Additionally, industrialization meant for housewives the isolation for the rest of the society (husband working outside of the house, children attending school) and its development. The unpaid work of the housewife was considered consumption, while the only aspects of housework socialized by capitalism are related to those that could be replaced by commodities or services.
With their emphasis on economic and spatial issues, the principal idea of material feminists was socializing domestic work, understood as the aim to make private domestic work into social labor. That means economic remuneration and a spatial transformation of the domestic workplace, and therefore of the homes, neighborhoods and cities, considering urban space as a social and economic product. In order to become equal members of society, women must create feminist homes with socialized housework, defining its own sphere.
Following Hayden, spatiality or in the interest of this review, the idea of the house is a social and economic construction that adheres to a logic of exploitation of the woman and her labor force. A real social transformation, for social equality, economic justice and environmental reform, involves a spatial shift.
Spigel, Lynn. Make Room for TV :Television and the Family Ideal in Postwar America. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992.
In this book, Lynn Spigel follows the path made by the incorporation of television into domestic space, after World War II. By tracing this development, as a cultural history of the television in United States, she examines the transfer of the exhibition of leisure from the public space, as its primary site, to the private one. This change involved a transformation in both spheres, with a particular stress in a new conception of the home, understood as a relational space. Nevertheless, the house also experienced noticeable modifications regarding its spatiality, the intended use of each area and the conceptions of leisure and work there.
Television appears as an agent of change that compassed the new ideals about family life and domesticity after the World War II. By bringing people together, busy and passive at time, television incarnates the solution to previous anxieties. The influence of television, or its catalytic power of a more complex forces, operates at both sides of the screen, through representation on television and repercussion into domestic space, and Spigel is interested in both, with greater stress on the latter.
Lynn Spigel describes the evolution of the home as a space for leisure, and its relation with technological developments. That space, as she exposes, was highly gendered, and television maintain that difference. Regarding the role of television into the household economy, Spigel asserts that it works as a way to keep women inside the house. Also, the idea of television as ‘a window to the world’ reduces the anxieties about the public space.
The influence of media, in this case television, into domestic space can be observed, despite spatial impact, as an influence into the home: the major change was related to interaction among people and the transmission of values about how that interaction must be.
De Landa, Manuel. Homes: Meshwork or Hierarchy?. Mediamatic, 1995. Web. Mar. 2010.
Manuel de Landa asks about homes: are they planned or self-organized? To answer this question, he looks into bird territories. When the question about how birds create a home territory was raised, it was answered with homes are planned. But the question that follows that is Who does the planning? De Landa takes Deleuze and Guattari’s answer: homes are the result of the interaction of a non-hierarchical set of brain functions and the expressive qualities of the territorial markers themselves, and he considers that answer corrobored by theories of non-linear dynamics and Connectionist approach. That does it mean, for example with birds, that each neural net in the bird’s brain is a non linear stable state (or attractor), that looks for a stable pattern in the environment, or pre-structured landscapes. That relational possibilities, between patterns in organic life and their environment, is called affordances. And, finally, is about the relation between genetic material and pre-structured forms of energy. De Landa says that homes are not planned or self-organized, but the result of the interaction between both systems. But humanity finds easier to think in homogeneous terms, looking for stables hierarchies, rather than heterogeneities. De Landa thinks that the secret of a better future lies in a non-homogenous thinking.