Issue 12

Alternative Habitation


Fall 2014

96 pages in color

215.9 x 279.4 cm / 9 x 11 in.

Editor’s Letter

Making a magazine is a joyful exploration of places and people. It’s a way to imagine new forms and new ways of being. For the past several issues, we have taken each one as an opportunity to explore a theme, from Women Artists in issue 7, to Photography Here and Now in the last one. This process always takes us to unexpected places, and this issue is no exception. Living in Los Angeles, it is hard for me not to be struck by the incredible variety of houses here, and so, this time, I very naturally set out to focus on the topic of architecture.

French architect François Perrin, now based in Los Angeles, imagines the house not as a traditional place of habitation, but as a zone of play. Every surface of the PAS House is adapted to the skateboard, inside and out. It is a house that quite simply proposes a new way to live. The dream of a smooth, continuous interior uninterrupted by walls has been a recurrent one within Modernism, and in France in the 1960s, Jean Benjamin Maneval created the Maison bulle six coques. Not particularly welcomed at the time, today the house is a rare, collectible item. During the same era on the other side of the Atlantic, another type of bubble house arose. Artist Steve Roden is lucky to live in one of them in Pasadena, and gently opens the door of his Wallace Neff Bubble House to us. The bubble house, it turns out, is a small, strangely lumpy space. Not an easy place to live in, the house epitomizes a spirit of restless experimentation far away from the mainstream—a spirit which, for Roden, is infinitely more important than convenience.

In an essay on protest and interpretation in the public space, curator Yann Perreau explains how the architecture of the square has framed recent political movements and protests, and consequently shaped new artistic practices. The square, a primary element of architecture, is only truly activated through habitation—an empty space that is transformed by the movement of people.
Artists and their studios have always entertained questions about architecture—building up and tearing down. The joy of excavation is a feeling that the artists Adam Janes and Dennis Hollings– worth share, and in their conversation with one another, they describe how working on their own houses has shaped their art. Is this architecture? In the end, I don’t think it matters. What is important, and what Janes’ house is full of, is living space.

What I discovered with this issue was inspiring. I had set out to look at architecture, but my interest in buildings gave way to a fascination with all the lives taking place within them. The imaginary lives, the playful lives, the alternative lives. A house is a chemical bond between natural elements, rough materials, and the inhabitants. All together under a certain pressure, they atomize another form
of life. A house is almost like a person, a revered member of the family. It can breathe life and be life at the same time.

Dorothée Perret
Los Angeles, August 2014.