V. Proposals

Kori Newkirk *

My proposal involves the careful placement of numerous mattresses stacked from the floor to the crossbeams that are present in each studio in the Schindler House.

Using a collection of new and used mattresses, I will create at least one stack of mattresses in a chosen studio. This stack will just graze the bottom edge of the crossbeams that are spaced throughout the house. The mattresses refer to the site as a home for numerous people who stayed at the Schindler House over its history, as well as to the potentially unorthodox lifestyle that occurred within the house’s walls. The mattresses also embody the West Coast’s continued penchant for communal living, both by choice and by necessity. The stack also references the notion of a home or space being overcrowded, calling to mind the notion of extended family all under one roof, as well as images of varied housing situations and environments in which many people share the same space.

I am particularly attracted to the Schindler House’s long narrow windows, which always call to mind the windows of Men’s Central Jail and the Metropolitan Detention Center in Downtown Los Angeles. Both sites are notorious for bringing disparate peoples together and the overcrowding that ensues, not to mention the way that architecture serves as a basis for fear and intimidation.

The mattresses can also be read in relationship to sedimentary rock, with strata generated over time. Each mattress would be a record of a moment in time. Upon closer inspection, a viewer could detect various items that will be placed between the layers created by the stack. These items would refer to the history of the house and its inhabitants, both the factual and fictional histories, rumored and implied, and, as always, “written,” by the winner…in this case the house.

Examples of potential items include a lump of coal in an upper layer and large glass “diamond” in a lower layer, potentially directly on the floor under the stack. These items refer to the amount of pressure demanded by the house: pressure to build, to live, and to retain. Enough pressure to turn coal into diamonds.

Additionally, as a man of six foot two, I frequently feel the pressure of the house’s low ceiling. I am constantly aware of my height and am forced to traverse the spaces accordingly. This crushing pressure only abates when I move outside into a courtyard. I imagine I would experience similar crushing influences were I to reside in the Schindler House.

Dandelions will grow at the base of the mattress stack. These plants will emerge from cracks in the concrete floor that radiate out from the stack and the implied pressure. The dandelion is chosen for its variable role as a weed to some people and as a salve to others. A bane and a boon, depending on your perspective. Dandelions are easily spread when blown by the wind, and settle into the earth with deep roots. Dandelions easily adapt to the open space of a modern world such as front lawns. They are difficult to exterminate and grow under adverse conditions. Dandelions are used medicinally for so many ailments the plant has been called “the official remedy for disorders.” Dandelions are an apt metaphor for the Schindler House.

Small, colored pamphlets, potentially red ones, could be shoved visibly between mattresses, a direct link to some of the political interests of the prior inhabitants, similar to a hidden stash of pornography or the cliché of cash hidden in a mattress. In fact, there may be a layer of cash in the stack.

Reading this site through the lenses of privilege and fantasy I draw a parallel with the fairytale “The Princess and the Pea.” The princess is so dainty and precious that she detects a lump of imperfection under many layers of mattresses. The perfection and imperfection in the Schindler House are seeded with notions of privilege. The Schindler House is a home built on a fantasy of constructing your own home. To explore this idea, there will not be a pea placed in this mattress stack, but there may be a representation of a pea.

I will additionally consider shuffling the two stacks of mattresses like a deck of cards. This act of shuffling will be a reference to gambling including key phrases such as “the house always wins,” “stacked deck,” or “deal with the cards dealt.” The shuffled form speaks to the intertwined nature of the residence and the residents who have occupied the space over time.

*Note: This proposal is being considered for future development.

Kori Newkirk is a Los Angeles-based artist.

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