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When a House Is More than a Home: Installations by Daniel Joseph Martinez December 15, 2017

By Kerry Ingram
Tags: contemporary-art, daniel-joseph-martinez, homemfah, homeso-different-so-appealing, installation-art

HOME—So Different, So Appealing is bookended by two installations by Daniel Joseph Martinez, both architectural and monumental: The wheels of the west bank is missing: i am not dead, am I are each 15 feet in diameter, and The House America Built replicates a 10-by-15-foot cabin.

Daniel Joseph Martinez, the west bank is missing: i am not dead, am i, 2008 
Daniel Joseph Martinez, the west bank is missing: i am not dead, am i, 2008, clear vacuform and aluminum, courtesy of the artist and Roberts & Tilton. © Daniel Joseph Martinez

the west bank is missing: i am not dead, am I opens the exhibition. Each of the enigmatic, towering wheels features 11 sides imprinted with the shapes of real homes drawn from a 1940s architectural experiment to create planned housing in Irvine, California. The housing plans later had a second life outside of the United States—in the disputed West Bank settlements. Martinez describes the wheels as “essentially machines that make settlements.”

Daniel Joseph Martinez, The House America Built, 2004–17
Daniel Joseph Martinez, The House America Built, 2004–17, SmartSide, plywood, dimensional lumber, and Martha Stewart paint; four unique architectural blueprints (reverse cyanotype process whiteprints), courtesy of the artist and Roberts & Tilton. © Daniel Joseph Martinez

In the final gallery of HOME—So Different, So Appealing, The House America Built also addresses how a seemingly innocuous American ideal can have unintended implications. The installation is a copy of the Montana cabin built by Ted Kaczynski, the domestic terrorist known as the Unabomber, who in turn based his home on the idyllic cabin where beloved author Henry David Thoreau lived while writing Walden. Martinez repaints the cabin using Martha Stewart’s signature paint collection for the current season—so the colors, drawn from the fall 2017 palette, are special to the Houston presentation. (As Martinez notes in the Facebook Live video below, when he first made this installation in 2004, both Kaczynski and Stewart were in federal prison.)

See more in “HOME—So Different, So Appealing,” on view in the Law Building through January 21.