THE HOUSE OF SPOOF
Transforming a Brooklyn brownstone into a home/museum, the House of Spoof was an experiment in creative spacemaking. In collaboration with The House of Spoof, an activist art collective from Hunts Point, The Bronx, we asked if social justice art can be experienced differently if presented inside an actual home. We hypothesized that an invitation to a home would give the audience, the artists, and the immediate community collaborators, a chance to spend time with each other in an intimate setting and would result in productive conversations and lasting relationships.
Our challenge was to create, for both the resident artists and the audience, a safe, productive, and creative space. Our tools were games, art supplies, food, and conversations around the dinner table.
“We have been living here and doing art. It’s a space where we can be creative, and really explore what a house means to a person. I grew up with domestic violence, and I know a house can be an unhappy place, but it can also be a safe space depending on the people you’re living with and working with. So our challenge was to build the home we wanted. And also to understand the history of this house, where we are, and what a home means." - Misra Walker
“Home to me represents a place where you can relax, and not stress over the outside world. I think that anywhere can be home. Any place at all where you can sit down, and have peace of mind is home to me.” - Ryan D. Smith
“Home for me is a place where love, peace, comfort and creativity is all around. Where ideas and feelings are safe to grow and be expressed with anyone you care to share them with." -Richard Palacios
People spend on average between 4-30 seconds looking at a piece of art in a gallery. An instrumental artist on this project, Misra Walker, makes this point eloquently in her TEDx Talk, “Building a Community of Art Activists.”
But most of us have spent hours visiting each other’s homes, chatting, looking at family photographs, heirlooms, posters, and art on their walls. While museums can be uncomfortably quiet, offer few places to sit, ban photo taking, touching, eating, playfulness, and rarely create opportunities to speak with artists and curators, we believe engaging with art in homes makes space for all of the above and more. Further, some groups (people of color and low-income individuals, in particular) report they just feel out of place and unwelcome in certain gallery spaces. So when our partner organization in Boston, the Design Studio 4 Social Intervention, approached us about coordinating an art show as a fundraiser, we knew the home is where we wanted to go.
In our research with a focus group of 50 we found that people felt they would understand an artist’s perspective more at a public event in a home, than from visiting their work in a museum. Respondents wanted to see artists “at ease,” “less artificial,” and “more personal.” Homes were described as more accessible, comfortable, and safe. More than 75% of respondents said that visiting an artist at work in a home would be a “cool and interesting” thing to do on a date or with friends. They thought the setting might inspire questions that would not be asked elsewhere, lead to better insight about the work, and give a better idea of the person behind the art. Overall, the majority of respondents agreed they would get to know an artist’s perspective best visiting with their work in a Brooklyn brownstone, than in a museum like the MOMA.
By inviting the audience to ‘come over,’ and by making space for the artists to live in a space before they share it with a trusted audience, we think the dialogue and reception to the work presented in our Brooklyn brownstone, will lead to productive, satisfying, and intimate experiences around work that would not be possible in a museum or gallery.
"Home is not just a place to sleep in or to watch television-It’s where memories begin and moments are shared with loved ones. The time put into making one’s home to their ideal vision is what makes each one unique in its own way. I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to share this home with my close friends to create art." -Alberto Inamagua
1.Internet 2. Participants 3. Community & Local Businesses 4. Tools 5. Local Artists 6. Art Supplies 7. DLSR camera 8. A community accessible space 9. Time 10. The House of Spoof Collective