Monday, 7 June 2010

Laura Gannon + Gray


The controversial history of Eileen Gray's seminal E1027 house is re-interpreted in Laura Gannon's new film commission, 'A house in Cap Martin'. The building, designed by Gray back in the 1920s in collaboration with Romanian architect Jean Badovici, was notoriously admired by Le Corbusier, who, encouraged by Badovici himself, painted a series of eight murals on E1027's walls, which Gray saw as a 'vandalisation' of the space. The murals remained in the villa against her wishes, as the place fell into a state of disrepair over the following decades, eventually to be vandalised again by squatters and to become the subject of long disputes in the world of architectural conservation.

The renovation project has passed through several hands, most recently landing in the hands of the Ministry for French Culture. Important as a subtext of the historical record is the significance of E1027 in the feminist re-evaluation of the modernist canon. Gray, whose pioneering independent work has increasingly been recognised through a critical reinterpretation in the last few decades, stood through Le Corbusier's physical and theoretical occupation of the building; ironically, his name was credited with the house for a long period. Theorists such as Beatriz Colomina have written about the potential problems in restoring the house, adding to the delay in re-opening it to visitors.

Securing entry to the dilapidated house by rare special permission, Gannon, who showed in this year's Bloomberg ArtFutures in London and was selected for EAST International in 2001, filmed her two-screen work onsite. The film presents viewers with three unspecified visitors to the location, an elderly woman and two middle aged men, whose roles suggest a kind of match with some of the most important figures involved in the site's biography. The split screen allows two times to be happening at the same time and expands the description of the issues at the heart of the house's narratives through hindsight, fleshing out the silenced urgency of the artistic frustration in the situation and the results of historical forgetfulness through a fascinating 'reflective re-enactment' style

Lupe Nunez-Fernandez

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