Fremantle Arts Centre presents the world premiere of internationally acclaimed artist Ian Strange’s latest exhibition ISLAND. Born and bred in the Perth suburbs, Strange is known for his subversive, site-specific interventions on suburban houses. Based in New York since 2009, Strange returns home to debut his most in-depth exploration of home. Created in the wake of the American housing crisis, ISLAND offers a provocative and unsettling look at our deep psychological relationship to home.
Strange’s fascination with home has been a focus of his practice for many years. Working with the foreclosed houses of America, historic buildings in an economically stagnant Poland and Christchurch’s earthquake ravaged homes – Strange explores home as a universal ideal. His darkly surreal installations have seen the artist encase buildings in wallpaper, black out entire houses with paint and install a crash landed home outside the Art Gallery of South Australia.
ISLAND is the latest iteration of the artist’s ongoing investigation into home, unveiling two years worth of work on foreclosed homes in Ohio’s Rust Belt region. Approaching the iconic symbol of the suburban home through the metaphor of the desert island – a place of refuge, protection and personal sovereignty but simultaneously entrapment and isolation – Strange carried out his signature ‘interventions’ on three houses which from the outside, perfectly embody the ideals of the American Dream. Painting the words “SOS”, “RUN” and “HELP” in giant lettering on these buildings, Strange exposes the darker truth belying their perfect exteriors.
These powerful statements point to the inherent instability of the home that much of Strange’s work reveals. The values of family, community and safety are built into the architecture of the suburban home but Strange highlights how, for many, that’s intrinsically fragile or entirely false.
For this exhibition Strange has adopted a new multi-disciplinary approach, presenting a sculptural house deconstruction made from the removed side of a now-demolished home in New Jersey, photographs he has marked with ink and paint, and found artefacts collected at the intervention sites.
ISLAND also includes a major new site-specific installation. Working within one of FAC’s galleries, Strange will create a large-scale sculptural intervention based on an abstracted house framework.
“I’ve always been interested in looking at the home as an island – simultaneously a place of safety and refuge, but also a space where you can become trapped and wish to escape,” said Strange. “By incorporating these now-demolished American homes and presenting my research and artefacts I want to reveal the home’s vulnerability and to question it as a symbol of stability.”
FAC Curator Dr Ric Spencer said: “It’s a privilege to have Ian showing a new body of work at FAC. To bring Ian’s work back to his home town for a world premiere is a thrill. This series of works is compelling on a global scale, showing both the fragility of refuge and the colossus that is the global financial market and its reach into our lives.”
“These are universal issues of today and the dramatic, striking and compassionate way in which Ian has approached these concerns in ISLAND clearly shows why he has a rapidly growing reputation as an artist with a truly international reach.”
About the Artist
Ian Strange is a New York-based multi-disciplinary artist who rose to international prominence in the street art movement in the early 2000s. Surpassing his graffiti days, Strange’s work has since expanded to explore architecture, space and notions of ‘home’ on a colossal scale. His practice includes large-scale multifaceted projects resulting in photography, sculpture, installation, site-specific interventions, film works, documentary works and exhibitions. His studio practice includes painting, drawing and on going research and archiving projects.
Strange has held solo exhibitions at the National Gallery of Victoria (Suburban, 2011-2013), The Canterbury Museum (Final Act, 2013) and participated in the 2014 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art at the Art Gallery of South Australia with LANDED, a commissioned sculptural installation on the forecourt of the gallery. SHADOW (2015-16) was a large-scale project incorporating suburban homes, documented in film and photography; and ZŁOTY was a sitespecific intervention onto the exterior of a historical building commissioned by the Intytucja Kultury, Katowice, Poland (2015). In June 2016 he held a solo exhibition of his SUBURBAN body of work in New York with NYC based arts organisation Standard Practice. His investigations into the themes of home and suburbia were recently the subject of the six-part ABC documentary series HOME: The Art of Ian Strange.