the intimacy of home spaces: housing someone’s home in ones own home

The Plant Room by Klara Christen
D by Zanaeca Singh
The Living Room by Gugulethu Mnguni

Does the energy of an artwork have the power to impact your space? Does the subjectivity of the artist matter when their intimate space is placed at the forefront of the work?

As the lockdown lifestyle continues to prevail for many of us, it is easy to feel frustrated, bored, and entrapped by our homes. Especially after spending so much time in them. However, throughout art history, domestic life has been a fundamental source of inspiration for artists. Whether it be lavish interiors or simplistic homely acts, artworks have repeatedly visualized domesticity as a worthy subject. Energy is a fundamental aspect of our lives that affects every aspect of our existence, including our homes and the artwork we surround ourselves with. A home’s energy can impact our mood, thoughts, and overall well-being. It can be positive or negative, and various factors influence it, such as the people who live there, the objects within the space, the architecture, and even the colors used in the decor. 

Similarly, artwork can carry also energy, an artist’s subjective relationship with the domestic scene has the power to play a significant role in the energy a piece of artwork carries. An artist’s experiences, memories, and emotions related to their home can be reflected in their work, resulting in either positive or negative energy. The domestic scene has historically been used as a metaphor to portray identity, class, political critique, and other complex representations. In western art, it was often considered a narrative in the realm of women’s spaces. 

In South Africa and the global South, the domestic scene has taken on a much more sinister association with class, race, and culture. The idea of having a home, being at home, or longing for home is a shared human experience, yet the home environment is vastly different across people’s different experiences. 

In the 1960s and 1970s, the representation of the domestic space was often seen as a place to break free from mundane domestic life and problems to be brought out into public life.

However, what makes the representation of a dark domestic space different from a sad, dangerous, or depressing artwork depicting something not located in the domestic space is the energy that space carries, which can be reflected in the representation of the artwork. When we bring artwork into our homes, we are inviting the energy of that artwork into our space. It is, therefore, essential to consider the energy that a piece of artwork carries before bringing it into our homes. If we are feeling stressed, anxious, or overwhelmed, we may want to bring artwork with calming, soothing energy into our space. On the other hand, if we want to feel energized and motivated, we may want to bring artwork with more vibrant, dynamic energy into our home. 

Ultimately, the domestic paradox lies in how radical politics obscures the aesthetic gesture, both in contemporary critique and art history. The representation of the home can be a complex and multifaceted subject, and its impact on our daily lives cannot be overlooked. The energy of our homes and the artwork we surround ourselves with can significantly impact our daily lives. Therefore, it is essential to consider the energy of our living spaces and the artwork we bring into them to create a space that supports our well-being and overall happiness.

waiting room by Jessica Bothma
Morning Shadows by Mzwandile Mpaka

Written by Shayna Rosendorff 


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