My body is the first architecture*
The centerpiece of the exhibition Gerard & Kelly: CLOCKWORK is a 35-minute film called Schindler/Glass (2017) depicting performances at the Philip Johnson Glass House (1949) in New Canaan, CT and the Rudolph Schindler House (1921) in West Hollywood, CA. Shown in a round pavilion on the ground floor of the converted industrial hall that is cultural center Pioneer Works in Red Hook, Brooklyn, this installation is part of an ongoing series by the duo Brennan Gerard and Ryan Kelly called Modern Living which explores the effects of Modernism on domestic spaces: ““What would a home have to be today to shelter intimacies that do not fit within dominant narratives of family, marriage, or domesticity?” Whereas the transparent, open-plan Glass House was inhabited by a gay couple, Philip Johnson and David Whitney, the Schindler House was created as a communal residence for two young families, the Shindlers and the Chases, who shared common spaces in addition to their two interlocking L-shaped apartments, “homes the architects built for themselves to shelter relationships as experimental as their designs.”
The house is a blueprint for memory*
According to Glass House curator Cole Akers, Johnson and Whitney “upended conventional notions about domesticity and architecture, particularly as they relate to sexuality.” The campus was a gathering place for the gay avant-garde (Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg, Merce Cunningham) in the pre-Stonewall era, and has a history of engaging with dance across the campus including Cunningham dance company’s 1967 performance at the site, and both the Monument for Lincoln Kirstein (1985), a founder of New York City Ballet, and the Lake Pavilion (1962) which are virtual maquettes for Johnson’s New York State Theater at Lincoln Center.
Relationships like clockwork*
In the film, nine dancers from L.A. Dance Project (Benjamin Millepied’s company) explore “hidden choreographies” by showing a “family” in various configurations — 2 men, 2 women, a male/female couple — calling out the time of day and related activities.
The just distribution of two men and two women*
Accompanying the film are visual and sculptural elements placed throughout the Pioneer Works space, inspired by elements from these houses as well as two additional buildings: the Farnsworth House by Mies van der Rohe in Plano, Illinois, a weekend retreat for the single occupant, Dr. Edith Farnsworh; and the Pioneer Works building itself.
There is no front—space is the medium*
Untitled (Edith) (2018) is a curtain made from vintage sheer, light blue nightgown fabric that flutters in the breeze, her revenge against Mies who objected to her desire for heavy curtains. Farnsworth said, “Mies talks about his ‘free space’: but his space is very fixed. I can’t even put a clothes hanger in my house without considering how it affects everything from the outside…because the house is transparent, like an X-ray.” The disagreement led to lawsuits; Farnsworth complained about her uninhabitable “glass cage.”
skin and bones (2018) are two sheets of glass, which together are the size of one Farnsworth House pane, each mounted onto white I-beams and subwoofer speakers that transmit the sound of the Fox River that runs below the house, which is so loud that the glass visibly vibrates, echoing another complaint of the resident.
A home is a mathematical equation*
When Gerard and Kelly started working in the Red Hook building, they grappled with the 1880s architecture that originally housed the manufacturing of large-scale machinery for railroad tracks and sugar plantations, since it was not Modern. Instead, the daily geometric display of light raking through windows fit their aesthetic and is captured in silkscreens called Light Studies 4:33 made from photos taken at 4:33 PM on the first day of the month over a one-year period, named in homage to John Cage’s composition 4’33” (incidentally, Cage was a resident at the Schindler House in 1934). This work is echoed by Relay (2018), colorful transparent vinyl strips placed on the building’s windows, which echo the costume hues of the nine dancers in the film Schindler/Glass.
Private (2018), is a sculptural object outlining the Glass House’s layout that features a page from Franz Schulze’s biography of Johnson, sandwiched in sandblasted glass. It quotes a Lincoln Kirstein letter acknowledging Johnson’s Nazi sympathies and later remorse. The title “Private” plays on the multiple meanings of the word, “the secret testimony, the formal reference to one another as Private soldiers in the US Army, and the open secret of their sexual orientations.” They quote Johnson: “I mean the idea of a glass house, where somebody just might be looking…That little edge of danger in being caught.”
The family is a system of regeneration*
The family is a system of regeneration (2018) are folded wooden panels painted with colorful double-helixes in the same materials and sizes as the Schindler House, and mark the dancers’ steps in the film.
The curators stated, “CLOCKWORK explores how the passage of time underlies
these sites, their intimate histories, and the occasion of the exhibition itself…transforming Pioneer Works from a space in which machines were built into a machine for keeping time.”
While in Red Hook, stop by roodgallery for Alexandros Washburn’s painting exhibition including David Childs and Capitol Hill 4. Washburn is the Founding Director of the Center for Coastal Resilience and Urban Xcellence (CRUX) at Stevens Institute of Technology and former Chief Urban Designer in the NYC Department of City Planning.
Gerard & Kelly: CLOCKWORK, Pioneer Works, 159 Pioneer St, Brooklyn, NY 11231, through July 1. https://pioneerworks.org
Lux Figura, Alexandros Washburn, roodgallery, 373 Van Brunt St.,Brooklyn, NY 11231, through June 30. http://www.roodgallery.com
- Axioms for Modern Living, Gerard & Kelly