Atlanta’s newest residential development has taken over the piazza of the Woodruff Arts Center. Forty sculptural geometric open frames in the shape of houses compose Mi Casa, Your Casa, an installation by Mexican designers Héctor Esrawe and Ignacio Cadena.
As intended by its cocurators — decorative arts curator Sarah Schleuning and director of education Virginia Shearer — the piece is the perfect summer amenity to encourage patrons of the center, workers from the surrounding area and passersby to populate a space that is usually a barren paved expanse.
Painted a striking red, the 8 x 8 x 10.5-foot tubular steel structures mimic the youthful conceptualization we likely drew when we were children — a square surmounted by a triangle. Arranged in three rows, 36 of the homes form an orderly neighborhood of pleasantly elementary, relatable forms. Three of the four remaining homes sit on the High Museum’s front lawn, close to Peachtree Street, effectively acting as a billboard for the entire installation, which will remain through November 2. The last house sits inside the museum’s gift shop.
Considered for purely sculptural merit, the structures wouldn’t garner a second thought. But they are meant to be inhabited, not simply viewed — to be shaped and activated by use, both by people visiting the piazza and the dance, theater and musical performances to take place during its run.
The configuration makes the installation feel more formal than it needs to be. The regimented arrangement of the houses in the plaza, aligned in rows of 12, is in tension with the casualness of the structures themselves. Yet the personalization of each structure with hammocks and various other “leisure and recreation” tempers the formality, promoting a playful ambiance. In September, once Dream Cars closes, the houses will be rearranged in an organic pattern more conducive to mingling.
All in all, Mi Casa, Your Casa is an exciting installation, at once decorative and functional, object and art space. Its whimsical, accessible forms soften the formality of the space and create a welcoming environment.
The High’s goal for this commission, said director Michael Shapiro, was “to bring our outdoor space to life with art.” On a recent Saturday afternoon the piazza was alive with activity. Children ran among the houses. Every hammock was filled by people relaxing; dozens more stood around taking photos or just taking stock of the installation. It looked like success to me.
For information about dance and theatrical performances presented in conjunction with the installation, see the High Museum’s calendar.