Pittsburgh, PA. 2016.
"A Second Home" transforms the Mattress Factory row house at 516 Sampsonia Way into a mysterious wonderland that cleaves, intermingles, and collages a house's physical and metaphysical counterparts. Saturated with construction materials, furnishings, toys, architectural models, video projections, and audio elements, the resulting immersive environment—encompassing all three floors of the building—fosters the emergence of a radically interior world: one that dreams of memories that it has never had, conjures the places that it has always wanted to be, and draws its own magic out of the grains of the woodwork.
The fragments that compose the installation appear simultaneously as suspended in time and as continuously evolving, while the multitude of layers, assembled views, and variously scaled vignettes coalesce in ways that parallel the construction of the psyche. While synthesizing tools, devices, and artifacts from a past that is both known and unknown, "A Second Home" gives these components a new context in the present and projects them forward into the future.
Aspects of the house will continue to transform over the next two years, with projects realized in collaboration with the Mattress Factory Education Department and involving students of architecture from University of Buffalo and Carnegie Mellon University.
"A Second Home" features unique contributions from Miriam Devlin, Kate Joyce, Michael Koliner and Racheljoy Rodas, four Pittsburgh-area artists whose work engages the construction of environments; as well as special projects by Daniel Salomon and Cameron Neuhoff; furniture elements by the Society for the Advancement of Construction Related Arts (SACRA); and a soundscape composed for and from the house by Dubravka Bencic and Kevin Bednar. In addition, the house's walls are enlivened and enriched by extraordinary objects culled from the private collections of the Mattress Factory's original inhabitants, co-directors Barbara Luderowski and Michael Olijnyk.
2014 - present.
Visit ASSEMBLY HOUSE 150 website: www.assemblyhouse150.org
ASSEMBLY HOUSE 150 is an experimental art/architecture space, founded and directed by Dennis Maher. Assembly House 150 specializes in the design and display of imaginative environments, furnishings, and aesthetic objects, while hosting public exhibitions, educational programs, and events that enhance the sense of wonder within everyday surroundings. Assembly House 150 is the home of SACRA (Society for the Advancement of Construction-Related Arts).
2009 - present.
Visit Fargo House website: www.thefargohouse.com
Within the Fargo House, patterns of daily living contend with the instability of matter. Operations of making and unmaking, doing and re-doing, erode the house's solidity, exposing a world that is always on the brink of becoming. The reality that is continuously remade within the house reflects the indeterminate, albeit coordinated exchanges of the surrounding city: circulations of matter, processes of reconstitution, and associated environmental affects.
Buffalo, NY. 2010.
An 8ft cube was constructed in the gallery using standard lumber and drywall. The cube was only partially completed before it was hoisted to the ceiling (just above head height) and then clad with four independently suspended panels of assembled detritus. Each panel acted as both a frame and a mask, intensifying the emptiness of the cube's hollow core.
The house mirages are the visions that are generated as the FARGO HOUSE gazes back at itself. They appear as amalgamated afterimages of collection, reassembly and repair. The mirages distort the house's objects and furnishings, conjuring an illusory world from existing surfaces and forms. In so doing, they reveal the lucidity of the house's apertures, conflating the everyday with the realm of the dream.
Who (or what) is the instigator of change within the FARGO HOUSE ? Is it the HOUSE or the INHABITANT? Tables, chairs, lamps and other domestic objects flow continually through the house's environs. These elements enter the front door as independent functional units, but, over time, they rebel against the autonomy of use and embrace the unity of aggregated form. As one object connects with another, the scale of the house merges with that of the model. The resulting constructions hint at new hybridized dwellings and other unstable micro-structures.
Buffalo, NY. 2013. (Artist-in-Residence Exhibition)
For the duration of this residency project, the FARGO HOUSE was regarded as a creative catalyst for tradespeople in the home renovation industry. Eight tradespeople representing distinct professions--plumbing, painting, electrical, masonry, windows/doors, roofing, flooring, and weatherization--were invited to take a private tour of Maher's residence and to talk about the making of his house and their work in the construction industries. Each tradesperson was then commissioned to build a "house model" utilizing only the materials of his/her respective trade. The house models became the genesis of a superstructure of Maher's design, entitled House of Collective Repair.
Ithaca, NY. 2013.
This site-specific installation within the Sibley Dome was conceived as a satellite of the FARGO HOUSE. Like the house, the satellite was a constellation of assembled and excavated matter. It was constructed from found objects that include ordinary building materials, furniture, and domestic artifacts, many of which were culled from Maher’s own living space. The overarching canopy of Sibley Dome and other canopy-like objects—such as tents, umbrellas, and a trampoline—provided a surrogate environment for the Fargo House’s displaced “furnishings.” When the satellite exhausted the duration of its mission at Sibley, it returned to the Fargo House. Then, the various pieces of the satellite, along with the documentation of its voyage, were used to realize a series of alterations to the house. The return of the satellite to this center and the reabsorption of its components into the house's matrix are essential in order for the house to expand its cosmology into previously unknown areas and to introduce new territories into the domestic sphere.
Project Assistants: Micaela Barker, Braedy Chapman, John Costello, Andrew delle Bovi, Juan Andres de Risio, Michael Gainer, Kathryn Hobert, Kyle Mcmindes, Matthew Rosen, Elizabeth Saleh, Daniel Salomon
2012 - 2013.
Eight tradespeople representing distinct professions--plumbing, painting, electrical, masonry, windows/doors, roofing, flooring, and weatherization--were invited to take a private tour of Dennis Maher's residence and talk about the making of the the FARGO HOUSE and their work in the construction and renovation industries. Each tradesperson was then commissioned to build a "house model" utilizing only the materials of his/her respective trade. The house models became the genesis of a superstructure of Maher's design, entitled House of Collective Repair.
House of the Plumber
House of the Mason
House of the Painter
House of the Roofer
House of the Window and Door Restorer
House of the Weatherization Specialist
House of the Electrician
House of the Floor Refinisher
Shenzhen, China. 2015.
Gazing through the window of the “urban village” toward the “urban center,” signs of development and progress appear as holes in the ground and obstructions in the sky. Such holes and obstructions erode the city’s collective memories. Soon, the city’s inhabitants will step outside to discover places that they have never known. Anamnesis refers to a form of knowledge imbued with the residue of the past. It summons those faint recollections which lie buried beneath our faculties for conscious self-reflection. When the city no longer invites this form of knowing, real and imagined places will collide. The Hole in the (Window of the) World House draws an imaginary conduit between two distant sites of architectural fantasy. It connects the Window of the World replica park in Shenzhen to the Fargo House in Buffalo, New York. The Window of the World contains replicas of 130 of the world’s most famous monuments, including places like the Eiffel tower, the Pyramids and the Palace at Versailles, all reproduced in miniature within a 118 acre park-like setting. The Fargo House is also a fantastic collection of miniature environments that, with each successive night of dreaming, move the inhabitant closer and closer to a world of impossible realities. Walking through the house, a miniature building might appear as a model, toy, statue, souvenir or symbol. Other times, it might be imagined as a structure of brick, stone or steel that has been unearthed from its surroundings. Every so often, the house’s window is opened and the weight of that small object is projected outward. When the object lands, it will fall upon a day dreamer’s desk in an assemblage of shifting reveries.
Project Assistants: Yumeng Chen, Meiyan Jin, Hongkai Li, Lesley Loo, Feng Zhu
For sixteen days, the artist was employed as a demolition laborer at the site of the long-vacant Farrar Mansion in Buffalo, NY. The primary task was to clear 1500 sq ft of interior space on the third floor of the building. During each day, according to the supervisor's instructions, various wall, floor, and ceiling components were removed. Each night, the artist returned to the site, collected those materials that were removed during the day, and assembled them in new arrangements. The resulting installations were photographed and then dismantled. All materials were returned to their prior locations before the next work day began.
2009 - 2011.
Hartford, CT. 2012.
Six furnishings were displaced from the FARGO HOUSE to the gallery where they were re-sited within an array of deconstructed room-like environments. The furnishings were re-combinations of ordinary domestic elements, including lamps, chairs, tables, and columns. These were, in-turn, furnished with miniature objects, including the residue of found doll houses. The room-like spaces acted as enclosures and frames for the displaced artifacts, forming a fictional armature for the unmaker's world.
Buffalo, NY. 2004 - 2010.
From 2004 - 2010, the vacant Farrar Mansion, former home of 19th century steel baron Chilion Farrar, was transformed into a center for the collection and reassembly of discarded building materials gathered from city-wide demolitions. The project proposed a model for urban regeneration by marrying two of the city's most salient, yet undesirable, features: the waste of building demolitions and the emptiness of derelict structures.
Pittsburgh Biennial, Pittsburgh, PA. 2011.
Over a ten day period, residual building materials were collected from sites of demolition and renovation in Pittsburgh. The sourcing of fragments from divergent locations around the city and their concentration within the gallery's frame amounted to an explosion in reverse. The reorganization of matter gave visible form to a nascent funneling aperture, the incubator of the gallery's void.
2003 - 2009.
Hollow core doors, wood lath, plywood, and wood paneling are continually layered and excavated. Materials are cut and re-cut, covered and re-covered, assembled and re-assembled. They are bound with drywall screws and sealed with house paint.
A parking lot attendant booth (hut) and seven porch columns (posts) were dismantled and the components reorganized in three stages. 1. The materials were shifted through space. 2. The four former faces of the hut were unified as a single vertical plane. 3. The vertical plane became a ground for loose debris, absorbing all remaining fragments of the hut and posts.
Black and White Gallery/Project Space. Brooklyn, NY. 2010.