Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Care House by Carrie Schneider

by Robert Boyd

We will likely run a longer critical piece on this house-sized installation by Carrie Schneider, but I wanted to post a video walk-through as soon as I could. Care House will be up through April, and can only be seen if you get an access code from Schneider (her contact information is on the Care House web page). And seeing it involves a long trip out to an obscure subdivision in Katy. But it's worth the trip. This is how Schneider describes the project:
Care House is a memorial to my mom and the house that became her.
As an experiment in eliciting meaning and memory from place, it is sited where it was inspired but resonant with the wider experience of emptying a home and parting with a parent. 
Sound, video, and material interventions consider the shifting roles of caregiving and caretaking, the enduring of terminal illness, and the being of a daughter.
Each work documents intuited, invented rituals performed in this house between its owner's passing and putting the house on the market.

I can't resist mentioning two things here that this installation reminds me of. The first is Robocop. Yes, I realize that sounds insane. But there is a scene in Robocop where Robocop realizes he was once a human police officer named Murphy. He goes to Murphy's old house in the suburbs, which is empty and for sale. As he walks into each room, memories of his life there with his wife and son resurface. These memories were meant to be erased when he was transformed into Robocop. But the house itself causes them to surface. The house is haunted--by his own memories.

The other is The Invention of Morel (1940), a novel by Adolfo Bioy Casares. In it, a fugitive stranded on a seemingly uninhabited island sees a group of tourists arrive. He spends some time observing them and puzzling over their actions until he finally realizes that they are a type of super-realistic hologram. Having fallen in love with one of them, the fugitive inserts himself among the tourists and his beloved Faustine. He uses Morel's machine to record himself interacting with the group. The recording process is fatal, but he dies knowing he will spend an eternity repeating a happy week with Faustine.

Schneider does something eerily similar (without the fatal recording part). She takes old video of her mom and inserts her preset-day self into them as a ghostly superimposition. As her mother seems to haunt the present, Schneider's intervention in the old videos is her haunting the past.


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