Houses Never at Home


In April, 2014, I gave a version of my talk: “Houses Never at Home: Fabric Dwellings and Wobbly Structures in Precarious Times” at the San Francisco Art Institute.

This talk examines textile homes, that is, tents, precarious housing, and “wobbly structures.” Moving from lo-tech handmade knitted houses to high-tech responsive membrane architectures, I consider how the utopian premise of many such edifices belies their actual contingency and fragility. Instead of reading textiles as comforting (an often automatic assumption), I instead turn to examples of textile homes, tents and buildings that illustrate threat, danger and upheaval. While home might be a place of residence and refuge, a conglomeration of affects, nostalgia and memory, it is also an idea and a physical entity seemingly constantly under threat from micro- and macro- stresses of daily living. Throughout the talk, I address how these shaky structures purposely or accidentally reveal problematics of precarity and discomfort under late capitalism.

About Kirsty Robertson

Kirsty Robertson is Associate Professor of contemporary art and Director of museum and curatorial studies at Western University, Canada.
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