The Little House
April 14 - May 28, 2005
The Christine Burgin Gallery is pleased to announce the opening on April 14 of The Little House, a video work by Victor Burgin. Shown here for the first time, The Little House brings together a classic of 20th century architecture with an 18th century libertine novella.
The Schindler House
The Kings Road House, in Los Angeles, was built in 1922 by the architect Rudolph Schindler to accommodate himself, his wife and two of their friends. Schindler spoke of the house as a 'cooperative dwelling'. Expressing new ideas about social relations and physical health the house, more than a stylistic statement, was a 'design for living'. As a design for a house it was almost unprecedented. In 1971 Reyner Banham wrote that the Schindler House comes close to being designed 'as if there had never been houses before'. Nevertheless Henry-Russell Hitchcock and Philip Johnson excluded Schindler from their 'definitive' 1932 MoMA exhibition and book, The International Style: Architecture since 1922, and the radically innovatory quality of Schindler's work only began to be appreciated after his death in 1953.
La Petite Maison
Jean-François de Bastide's novella La Petite Maison was first published in 1758. A story of seduction interwoven with a guide to interior decoration, it was commissioned by an architect to educate and attract potential clients. In eighteenth-century France, members of the wealthy elite were rarely alone. The 'little house' of Bastide's title was a type of mansion built by the wealthy as a refuge for clandestine liaisons. Although such houses were popularly known as petites maisons they were large and luxurious. In Bastide's story, the irresistibly seductive Marquis de Trémicour, determined to conquer the immovably virtuous Mélite, challenges her to visit him in his petite maison. At the conclusion of her tour of the house Mélite succumbs to Trémicour, her resistance overwhelmed by the beauty of the décor.
The Little House is the third of Victor Burgin's video works to focus on a modernist building (Dominique Perrault's Bibliothèque Nationale for Nietzche's Paris, 2000; Mies van der Rohe's Barcelona Pavilion for Elective Affinities, 2001). In these works, as is characteristic of Burgin's work in general, a physical location is viewed through the prism of a narrative to provide a palimpsest of associations to personal and public memory, to individual lives and history.
Stills from 'The Little House'