Hermès: a haudenschild Garage project with MARK BRADFORD

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Project Hermès

Project Hermès is a site-specific installation in a vacant house in La Jolla, California based on transcribed conversations between in La Jolla and Mark Bradford in Los Angeles that took place from January to July 2013. From Haudenschild were stories of an eccentric, former neighbor who harbored deep antagonism and paranoia towards her and her family. From Bradford was the initial impulse to research domestic settings of homemade webcam pornography, later abstracted into a web of black lines that aggressively cut across the interior of the neighbor’s dilapidated house.

Hermès, Marcos Lopez, the messenger, traveled for six months between La Jolla and Los Angeles relaying Haudenschild’s stories of hostile encounters with her neighbor to Bradford. It was only through these stories, and a scale-model made by Hermès, that Bradford experienced the space during the first few months of the project.

Project Hermès opened on August 3, 2013 for only twenty-four hours. After which, both the house and installation were completely demolished.

The design component of this project was complicated by the fact that Mark Bradford could not see the space for several months or have a solid idea of his intervention at the onset. Also, the conversations with Eloisa were ongoing. Knowing this, I felt it was important to give Mark as much contextual information about the house as possible and so I measured the interior as plan and elevation and with the aid of photographs, subsequently translated these drawings into CAD files, SketchUp models and photo-realistic renderings. The timing was such that as these rendering were near completion, Mark came upon the idea of the ‘web’ which necessitated a physical model (1/2″ = 1′-00″) as a drawing surface for his process. The model remained in-progress right up to production, continuing to be translated into a digital drawing to be used later as an aid in the production of the final piece.
– Marcos Lopez (Hermès)

What struck me was the psychological strangeness that revolved around the neighbor’s home. I’m drawn to using the home as a construct for talking about psychological conditions and the idea of voyeurism. When Hermès describes the stories of the neighbor it is as if we are peeking into her life, going through her closets, looking through her windows – it has a voyeuristic feel to it…I did not have a physical relationship with the space (neighbor’s house) until I came here today for the first time…So I started to see this disconnect between public and private space. Then I thought I’ll do some research on this site called Cam4 and what was interesting about it were the people using their webcams in a public way, performing very private acts. I started to take pictures of their places without them in it. In order for this to happen there had to be some interaction, like asking them if they could move off camera so I could take a picture of just their living room. They would get freaked out but when they would move off camera you could see their space. And then I thought about the neighbor who had been carrying out these public and private, very strange, psychological acts for a really long time. I started thinking about her private space and about interruptions, almost like a weird fissure.  I thought I needed to do this hard-edged abstraction that cut through her private life – that interrupts it. So the line becomes a psychological and physical part of the space because I believe the neighbor was constantly being psychologically interrupted. Privately, she was one way and publicly, she was another way. Her mind was constantly interrupting itself in this weird kind of madness…so when I saw the line cutting across her refrigerator and lines cutting across her carpet, it felt like someone came into her private space…like a violation. When you see pictures of the line, it’s as if it cuts right across the glass. The line for me is the distortion or the fissure between her public and private lives – it’s like a crack. This woman was cracked…she was clearly two people.  Her narrative was cracked and it’s almost as if her narratives constantly interrupted themselves. So I wanted to do something with that interruption and thought about what you can do in a home to interrupt that narrative. I thought the most violent thing I could do is simply to interrupt that narrative by cutting through and straight across the house so it starts to fragment. I started making the line at one end of the house and I didn’t lift my hand up as I went through the model Marcos made. The line was aggressive and her house had secrets, so in some ways I wanted to expose the aggressiveness and violence of her life…her meanness. It feels mean cutting across her house with the line…it’s like slashes that are cutting across the interior.  When I saw pictures of the house it looked spooky to me. Even if I didn’t know the neighbor, I could tell I would feel uncomfortable inside the house…this is a real intense installation. I wouldn’t have thought to do a line but I kept thinking about the simplest, most minimal gesture I could make. I am a painter so I wanted to use that vocabulary…I could see how strong it could be.
– Mark Bradford