Blogging Blaffer

Buildering Lunar Colonization

Alison Moffett, Case Study Houses: No. 4, 2013. Graphite on paper. Courtesy of the artist and Schleicher/Lange, Berlin
Alison Moffett, Case Study Houses: No. 4, 2013. Graphite on paper. Courtesy of the artist and Schleicher/Lange, Berlin

By now you’re probably getting a sense of the expansive character of Buildering: Misbehaving the City, which includes photographs and videos of performative gestures, surreal sculptures that prompt viewers to reinterpret built environments, and documents of actions carried out in the domestic sphere.

But as conceived by exhibition curator Steven Matijcio, the buildering metaphor is so expansive it extends beyond the confines of our planet, as seen in exquisite graphite drawings of structures on the moon by London-based American artist Alison Moffett.

But as remote as their setting is, Moffett’s drawings connect with idealistic visions hatched in Southern California–specifically those of the Case Study House Program pioneered in 1945 to design affordable model homes for returning World War II veterans. (The most famous example, Case Study House No. 22 in the Hollywood Hills, has been featured in countless photo and film shoots. If you ever get the chance to tour the house, do it.)

“As experiments in neo-American residential architecture, 36 houses were commissioned (by such luminaries as Craig Ellwood and Pierre Koenig) with the idealistic ambition to be ‘best suited to the expression of man’s life in the modern world,'” Matijcio writes. “These utopian case studies were scheduled to be built in Southern California with ‘the best materials used in the best possible way,’ but dreams succumb to realities, and few were actually realized.”

In her Case Study drawings, Moffett, whose grandmother was the first female architect in the southeastern United States, has relocated a number of Case Study Houses to the moon, conflating their utopianism with “the lofty ambition that fueled America’s quest to reach the surface of the moon in the 1960s, as well as the dusty, uninhabitable outpost it turned out to be – deflating dreams of lunar colonization,” Matijcio writes. “Somewhere between starry aspirations and disastrous failure, the Case Study drawings thereby map a future settlement that is simultaneously within our grasp and beyond our reach.”

So if you’re responding to our Buildering Houston challenge with your own artworks reimagining the city in terms of creative misbehavior, remember, there’s no need to confine your proposals to this planet. Consider it one of the perks of living in NASA’s backyard.

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