LONDON—British artist Alex Chinneck built a brick house only to watch it melt into the earth. The gloopy building, made from bricks formed of wax, is bewildering, even slightly disturbing, to behold in the city’s busy Covent Garden shopping piazza. The ruddy wax resembles dripping blood coagulating and drying each night in the cool air. On top of that, Chinneck titled the work A pound of a flesh for 50p. Cue music from ‘The Shining.’
CNN reports Chinneck’s site-specific projects appear to blend in with the surrounding neighborhood offering only subtle cues something is askew. His works challenge the beholder to resist their own pattern recognition and surrender to the surreal truth of what is before them.
A Pound of Flesh for 50p…would look like a typical Georgian house were it not made of wax and melting a little more each day.
Like Artax sinking in the Swamp of Sorrows, Chinneck’s house appears to be swallowed up by the sidewalk. Betrayed by the sun, its waxy, ill-fated Icarus-esque construction morphs from solid to liquid.
Chinneck explains to CNN his draws from the immediate environment—the site—and that actually includes his audience as well.
“I don’t like to disrupt a district too much, so the work is contextually sensitive. The material and visual decisions are informed by the district and the area and the architectural language of that region. The concepts are extremely considered despite their playfulness and simplicity. They’re tailored to their environment and their audience.”
Chinneck further explains his concept:
“Architecture is the fabric and surroundings of our daily and habitual environments. It provides a very good canvas for creative exploration and abstraction.”
“With art, and I think really a lot of public art, you create it and then you have to abandon it a little bit, distance yourself from it, because it’s not really yours anymore,” he says. “There’s no safe place in the public eye.”
Read Cfile’s previous coverage Chinneck’s sliding house.
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