The house of the soul

The exhibition "Un lugar donde habitar" brings together in Pola de Siero works by artists Esther Cuesta, Mónica Dixon, Isabel Gil, Federico Granell and Faustino Ruíz de la Peña.
LA ESCENA by  Natalia Alonso Arduengo


Most languages use
the term "living" in the sense of inhabiting.
To ask the question "Where do you live?
where your existence shapes the world

The Art of Living, by Iván Illich

The inhabitant is to space what space is to the inhabitant. And, following Bacherlad and Pallasmaa we can sentence: I live in a house and the house lives in me. Can one live without a fixed address, without a place to return to? The existence of each person makes sense in the intimacy of the house that reveals a world of its own and untransferable. Is this circumstance of existential anchorage possible, living from one side to the other in a continuous transit?

The different works by Esther Cuesta, Monica Dixon, Isabel Gil, Federico Granell and Faustino Ruiz de la Pena invite reflection on the house as a multisensory space. Beyond its formal structure and architecture, beyond its utilitarian purpose, there is a strong link between the house and its inhabitant through mental processes in which memory and memories come into play, whether their own or inherited. The house, as a lived space, is full of affections and sensations. The phenomenology of living involves all our senses. Different environments have their characteristic smells and everyday objects are loaded with meanings. Through all of them we generate associations. Who inhabits these dwellings or who inhabited them? The temporal dimension is also present through the different strata that replace or superimpose their dwellers. Thus, a whole narrative is generated that has its ultimate end in ruin, in abandonment. And, still uninhabited, between the vegetation that takes over the architecture, between the broken windows and the torn papers of the walls, the smell of humidity and the echo of emptiness, it is possible to perceive the emotional charge that housed the four walls.

Is it possible to read a house? According to Bachelard, the house and the room are "psychology diagrams that guide writers and poets in the analysis of intimacy. Also many artists like Edward Hopper and Andrew Wyeth have approached it in painting and names like Per Barclay and Louise Bourgeois in sculpture. To quote them all would be to put doors to the field because it is an omnipresent theme in the History of Art. Perhaps the cause and the origin is in its atavistic roots. Jean Frémon, in an essay on Bourgeois, analyses this interest on the basis of Bachelardian maxims: "The house is the first stage of memory. The basement, the staircase, the room, the attic, the wardrobe, the window are forms on which, unconsciously and rationally, our desires and obsessions are modelled and fixed". The dream house as an archetypal icon has been the object of analysis for minds such as Carl Gustav Jung's. There is even a psychology test set in motion by Dr. Françoise Minkowska, who has studied the drawings of houses made by children in order to analyse their emotional states. Without turning the spectator into a house psychologist, the exhibition "A place to live in" invites us to reflect on dwelling, on concepts such as intimacy and domesticity, on the internal-external dichotomy and, especially, to take the following words of Juhani Pallasmaa as a starting point: "Artists' houses are useless and uninhabitable in a practical sense; they do not protect us from the storm or the cold of the night. The artists' houses review and explore images, myths, memories, desires and room dreams. Artists conceive mental images of the house where we live existentially, they project the house of the soul.

"A place to live"
Collective exhibition
House of Culture of Pola de Siero (c/ Alcalde Parrondo 30)
Until 13 April

Natalia Alonso Arduengo is a cultural manager