Purging the American Dream
February 22, 2012
With the bursting of the real estate bubble and the recent American foreclosure crisis, the house, particularly the suburban home, has become a potent cultural emblem ripe for artistic seizure. One dilapidated house in Austin, Texas was recently rechristened as an immersive art project by Austin-based art collective Ink Tank. The project, called Last New Year, revolves not around the foreclosure crisis, but around a crisis of a grander and more mythical scale: the end of the world as predicted on the Mayan calendar. The artists described the large-scale installation as a celebration of the end, a study of crisis management, a search for meaning, a chance for closure, and “an unwavering column of truth in a desert of confusion.”
Perhaps the most resonant piece in the installation, as noted in Colossal, is a sculpture called The Purge. While many of the pieces in the house envision glorified and artfully tamed doomsday scenarios, artist Chris Whiteburch’s site-specific sculpture imagines how the physical house would react to the impending doom of 2012. Whiteburch shows the house purging its content, violently spewing structural materials and debris with a powerfully human sense of desperation.