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Home sweet (or scary) home

Stewart Oksenhorn
Aspen Times Staff Writer

There’s no place like home. And there’s no sense of home like that which exists in the mind of German artist Gregor Schneider.

For some 13 years, beginning in his teens, Schneider worked on his “Dead House ur.” The monumental project had Schneider reconstructing, in detail but on a smaller scale, each room of the house in the city of Rheydt in which his parents, and then Schneider himself, lived. “Dead House ur” was made of the usual materials houses are made from: plaster, foam insulation and the like.

“Dead House ur,” currently being exhibited at the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, was completed last year. But a new exhibit at the Aspen Art Museum shows that Schneider’s fascination with homes, and with his own masterpiece, remains.



The Aspen show, which opens with a reception on Thursday, Dec. 18, from 6-8 p.m., features video, photographs and sculpture all linked, to varying extents, to “Dead House ur.” Closest to the earlier piece is a 15-minute video, “Garbage Bag,” shot by Schneider as he crawled through the rooms he had constructed in “Dead House ur.” Complete with a soundtrack, it is creepy and claustrophobic, reminiscent of the spider hole from which Saddam Hussein was recently extracted.

The main downstairs gallery at the Art Museum features an array of related but distinct pieces: sculptures of walls, a bed divided by a wall, and a chimney; a series of photographs of the “Dead House ur” rooms, and another series of a house with an isolation room inside. As in the video, there is a drab, impoverished feel to this work. The photographs are mostly in black-and-white with only the slightest bits of color in some pieces; the sculpture is similarly colorless and made with the least titillating materials possible, connecting Schneider to the Italian arte povera ” “impoverish art” ” movement that shunned expensive materials.




Like “Dead House ur,” the Aspen exhibit focuses on the theme of the home. In Schneider’s vision, home can be where the heart is. And it can be a place where fear and terror are allowed to fester behind closed doors.

“The overall psychology is important,” said Dean Sobel, director and chief curator of the Aspen Art Museum, who curated the Schneider exhibit. “Home ” home as a safe haven, home as place of procreation, and home as perhaps a frightening place, a place where bad things happen.”

Stewart Oksenhorn’s e-mail address is stewart@aspentimes.com


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