Pierogi is pleased to present The House Party, a full-scale, participant activated installation by Andrew Ohanesian at The Boiler. Known for his ability to blend fiction and fact, Ohanesian creates environments that surreptitiously alter the viewer’s perception of reality, calling into question preconceived notions about architecture, space, and the social interactions that take place within. Previous works by Ohanesian on a similarly immersive scale include: Blind Spot (2007), the reconstruction of a row house which descends into chaos as you travel into the piece, built within English Kills Gallery (Brooklyn, NY); and, Mandies(2010), a confessional-booth-sized bar built for one, whose narrative is formed nightly, by the interactions of the patrons and bartenders who filter in and out of this living artwork.
In The House Party, Ohanesian continues his exploration of architecture and place, faithfully creating a spatially accurate, quintessentially American suburban home, which he displaces from its native suburban landscape by reconstructing it within the walls of the Boiler, a repurposed urban-industrial space currently functioning as a contemporary art gallery. The House is then opened up to the public for a house party on the opening night of the exhibition. In this at once creative and destructive act, the artist enlists the audience to provide the final element of the work itself, giving each viewer the unique opportunity to physically leave his or her own scar on the House, by partying within it throughout the evening.
Although The House Party aims to be an authentic recreation of a uniquely American rite of passage characterized by its namesake, the seemingly innocuous and gracious host only relinquishes the illusion of control to his guests, discretely imposing his artistic vision and control on the environment and its happenings. Accomplished through the architectural structure and hyper-real quality of the space, which, by design, subtly suspends the audience’s greater awareness of the gallery context itself; thereby unlocking behavioral patterns and social cues usually reserved for a venue outside of the art gallery, such as an actual house party.
In contrast to the fine art standard of examination, which would otherwise be subconsciously cued by the white walls of a conventional gallery setting, the environment of The House Party fades quickly from institutional art critique, as one begins to interact within this space on another level of consciousness. Rife with external stimuli from fellow participants and the surrounding environment, The House Party quickly loses its place as something to be examined, becoming instead, something in which to be submerged. Only upon leaving comes the realization that the entire experience was manufactured; the exiting participant faces the question as to what the party, the house, and his or her own participation in it actually means.
On its surface, The House Party is simply that, a party in a house, but within that cultural foundation it presents an environment rich for critique. The American home holds within it the key to our notion of what it is to be an American — the entitlement to individual freedom, personal ownership, and luxury, all on a mass-produced scale. In this context, The House Party suggests particular relevance to our current moment in America, with the world financial system in decline, due in part to the home and its private ownership, which helped dig the hole of worldwide financial meltdown. In effect, The House Party uses the dirt surrounding that hole to provide a single event to remind us of the reality, the flesh and blood that those numbers and trends represent.
“As a cultural touchstone, The House Party exists in a neither-here-nor-there space; it is a car sneakily borrowed and driven by an unlicensed, adolescent driver, a party thrown in a house that is yours, but that you don’t own. It is your legacy that you’re leveraging for the enjoyment of others and as such, it draws a direct analogy to 2012 America. As a society we stand on the shoulders of previous generations for whom the American Dream was a reality. Yet this reality of equity and ownership is revealed to be an illusion, and the desire to sustain that illusion or the hope of reconstructing anything real is shattered. We find ourselves on standby — in a limbo of rent or buy, securely insecure — but still driven to nest, to build onwards, to throw house parties in houses that are not ours and grounded in foundations of debt, inequality, and adolescent desire.” (Ohanesian)
Andrew Ohanesian was born in 1980 in Laguna Beach, CA and lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. He has exhibited with Pierogi in New York and Miami, and has shown widely throughout New York and California.