Domestic Scenes

St Jerome in his Study, 1475

When the family shows its belongings, the house reveals its condition: not so much an architectural object but a container of life and its objects. Furniture shows the routine of use and the memory of the body; a shiver runs through us if exposed to weather. A house without furniture is an uninhabited house, yet that is precisely how many architects like to see it: Neutra had the furniture removed for Shulman’s photographs, so as to keep the choreographic load of the apparel from blurring the exact geometry of functional space. But cold, panoptical glass dwellings lead to the home theater of the media’s Big Brother, where privacy is submitted to a supervising eye easily accepted by those who think that the ideal house is a shop window; or to the exhibitionistic extremes of the magician David Blaine and the Chilean Nautilus project. In the end, the themed bedrooms of Hollywood actors or the motley pieces of the Japanese ‘happy fashion victims’ are not so different from those glass homes: transparent to the camera’s eye, the essential thing in them is the atrezzo; the objects that make livable the studios of Saint Augustine or Saint Jerome, creating private universes that the ascetic terrorist confronts with a stark domestic scenario...[+]

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