bird, box & spindle

House of My Own

House of My Own, 1995

Assemblage (60"x 72")
Collection of the artist
© Julie Lapalme

 

house

You have won rooms of your own in the house hitherto exclusively owned by men. You are able, though not without great labor and effort to pay the rent. You are earning your five hundred pounds a year. But this freedom is only a beginning; the room is your own, but it is still bare. It has to be furnished; it has to be decorated; it has to be shared. How are you going to furnish it, how are you going to decorate it? With whom are you going to share it, and upon what terms? These I think are questions of the utmost importance and interest. For the first time in history you are able to ask them: for the first time you are able to decide for yourselves what the answers should be.

— Virginia Woolf, ’Professions For Women‘, 1942

The assemblage suggests domestic architecture and interior space without defining it as a specific place. The tension created by the juxtaposition of discarded, found objects, (with a story of their own, a past history, evocative materials) with a constructed grid-support (painted ‘fantasy pink’, store bought, impersonal) best described that blank state of not knowing for me as an adoptee. The cast-off furniture, the ceiling tile, the spindles, all rich with a particular history, become a facade, functioning as armour protecting and describing the space of the pink structure of the body / home as it reveals itself from the window, looking out and peeking from the sides.

Birds inhabit the scene.

The structure also houses rooms/ideas. One box has a children‘s courting scene depicted on collaged wallpaper. Another box is papered with a reproduction of Gerard David’s Annunciation (c. 1523) with a an extract from a Virginia Woolf essay Professions for Women collaged to the floor. This text champions the assertion of one’s independence as a woman in the family, finding a ‘room of her own’, and as an artist, finding her voice through her creative ventures. The ‘Death of the Angel’ refers to the choices made, the commitment to pursue creative activity as a full-time venture, without feeling guilt about neglecting familial duties. Creative fulfillment is found through other avenues than woman’s traditional role, at home, making babies and setting up house.

window

The window is a complex symbol with a long history of associations. Looking out of a window can afford the viewer a panoramic view. Looking in on the other hand, carries the weight of voyeurism and introspection. The window as a formal device can also fragment the body. A person in the window, a woman, is seen as less than whole, and may be referred to as merchandise, her role to solicit. Seldom represented as an intruder, she is often seen as a passive spectator or captive within this framing device.

The glass pane on a window can blur these assumptions as the spectators — on either side of the glass – can take on a more active part in the looking as the self is seen reflected in the sheen of glass. The glass window offers an interesting paradox; it can protect the self through deflection all the while giving the illusion of penetrability and accessibility.

Line

Family Tree  l  Pigeon: Cowardice  l  Cuckoo: Courage  l  Mme. Cowbird  l  L'Escalier Unique
Winding Staircase  l  House of my Own  l  L'Escalier qui monte