Why is this house frozen?

  • 11/07/2011

By Ali Ikram

Auckland’s change to a “super city” prompted Te Tuhi gallery in Pakuranga to stage an exhibition that looks at how sudden shifts in the law or economy can radically alter the lives of millions.

As the foreclosure crisis took hold hundreds of thousands of Americans lost their homes, the response of some was to set their houses alight.

But two New Yorkers who found themselves without work did exactly the opposite with one abandoned dwelling.

“I think it's open to interpretation, it talks about the housing crisis, it's also a tool for inspiration for children and people in the neighbourhood,” says co-creator Greg Holm.

Mr Holm for two weeks continuously doused 39-26 McLellan Ave in Detroit until it froze solid.

He didn't do it all himself, collaborator Matthew Radune did the night shift manning the hose in the largely abandoned neighbourhood, with a drug house next door.

“It made for a couple of uncomfortable situations. The strategy of Greg and I and the people in the neighbourhood was to let each other go about our business in peace,” says Mr Radune.

But braving the mean streets night after night was worth it, the result a house that is part winter wonderland, part solemn meditation on all the lives frozen in time.

In the final days of the icehouse it was attracting crowds of puzzled onlookers.

“At first they thought it was an accident, a pipe burst and the water went on the house and it froze,” says Mr Radune.

When the project was first mooted some dismissed it as ruin porn, Detroit is well known for its 90,000 abandoned buildings including skyscrapers and opera houses.

Though Mr Radune, who is here for the Rapid Change exhibition at Te Tuhi gallery in Pakuranga, says they used the national media attention on the house to highlight environmental projects and even rehoused a single mother who was about to become homeless.

So what does he remember of it all?

“Almost dying,” he says.

“I had a beat up car with a cracked exhaust pipe,” he says.

Yes a touch of carbon monoxide poisoning bringing new meaning to suffering for your art.

3 News  

source: newshub archive