Artist Profile: Ian Strange (aka Kid Zoom)

| July 29, 2014
9D-KIDZOOM_HOME_SKULL

9D Kid Zoom home skull || Image: ianstrange.com

Words by Meghan Slater  

IAN Strange (aka Kid Zoom) is an Australian, New York based artist whose work is relates to themes of home and identity. Strange recently had a solo exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) called Ian Strange: Suburban. The exhibition featured eight site-specific installations, which investigate the icon of the family home. Strange’s exploration of suburbia and household dynamics is not limited to this exhibition. The home is a symbol present in most of his work. Through the use of photography, film and installation, Strange challenges notions of safety, stability and security commonly associated with the home. By isolating, physically manipulating and in some cases even destroying homes, he aims to highlight the “threat and quiet rage” that he experienced as a teenager growing up in the suburbs of Perth.

Home

Installation view || Image: /ianstrange.com

Home features elements of photography, video and installation. The work is a detailed replica of the artist’s childhood home. Strange describes it as a “multi-layered homecoming”. Every minute detail of his house has been reproduced. By meticulously building his family home from memory, Strange recalls its history and his youth. He has also drawn upon his street art roots by painting a large, hyper-realistic skull on one of the outer-walls of the house. The skull interferes with the perceived simplicity of Strange’s home. It forces viewers to re-evaluate their initial interpretation of the house as a safe haven or sanctuary. The video and performance elements of the work document the destruction of three Holden Commodores. According to Associate Professor and Director of the MFA, Simone Douglas, the car, like the house, “is a suburban dream fixture”. By smashing in the windows of each car and setting them alight, Strange provokes his audience to question the notion of the “suburban dream”. Home is a highly personal work. It differs from his later Suburbia series, which looks more broadly at the icon of the family home, and its relevance within contemporary society.

Suburban

‘Corrinne Terrace’ – Ian Strange, 2011 (‘SUBURBAN) || Image: ianstrange.com

Suburban consists of eight works, each of which incorporate suburban homes. In order to create the series, Strange, over the course of two years, worked with a film crew and volunteers in Ohio, New Jersey, New York and New Hampshire. Many of the houses featured in the series had either been abandoned, or were due to be released in order for the land on which they were built to undergo redevelopment. The techniques used to produce each work are radical. Strange and his assistants spray painted specific shapes and patterns over particular sections of houses, repainted them in their entirety using a single colour, and in some cases, set them on fire.

Suburban is a continuation of the themes explored in Home. According to Strange, the series is “a natural progression from Home, expanding to become a much larger investigation into suburbia and the role of the family home”. This expansion is indicated by the fact that Strange has physically manipulated and photographed a number of houses, all of which are similar in appearance. His choice of mundane houses overrides the specificity achieved in Home. Strange argues that his selection of ordinary homes “allows people to react to the idea of the house as opposed to it being tied to a specific time or place”. By decontextualizing the series, Strange enables his viewers to explore the concept of suburbia. Furthermore, many of the houses photographed for the series were not completely destroyed. In Harvard Street for example, Strange has painted a large red ‘X’ on the front of a house. This does not prevent a person from living in the house depicted. It can therefore be argued that Strange is destroying the concept of the home, not the home itself.

While Suburban clearly addresses broader themes, such as social detachment and domestic violence, the series does, like Home, contain an element of self-reflexivity. Strange affirmed this in a recent interview with Charlotte Cornish, a writer for Open Journal, stating that Suburban “captures the notions of fear and resentment [he has] from growing up in the suburbs, wanting to escape when [he] thought [he] was going to be trapped”.

Landed


‘Landed’- Installation 2014 Biennial of Australian Art. Art Gallery of South Australia || Image: ianstrange.com

Landed is an installation that was commissioned for this year’s Adelaide Biennial, and featured in the forecourt of the Art Gallery of South Australia. Like Home, this work is a reproduction of Strange’s family home. Unlike Home, it is embedded in the ground. Only a portion of the house can be seen. This creates the illusion that the house has fallen from the sky. According to Charlotte Cornish, “Strange questions the stability of the family home by intervening with its physical permanence”. He has literally destroyed the house by dropping it on the ground. Landed is therefore closely linked to Home and Suburbia, in that Strange has physically intervened with the icon of the home in order to reveal what is “hidden behind the neat facades of suburban houses: a world of soulless boredom”.

For more information about Ian Strange and his ambitious body of work, check out his official website.

 

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