The House of Illnesses
11 Apr 2019—28 Apr 2019
“House of Illnesses, you are not a house of recuperation. How is anyone in this house to find [her] way back to life if the dreams never cease offering invitations to join their dance?” – Unica Zürn, The House of Illnesses, p.12
Drawing insight from Unica Zürn’s homonymous 1957 narrative, Ariane Jaccarini’s The House of Illnesses, cartilage-like in its armature, boasts a multiplicity of contorted chambers laid out in a perverted corporeal topography. Somatic qualities are assigned to the various compartments: errantly constructed cavities swell and fold like scrolled turbinates; a chamois leather sofa gleams like an oily outer ear; and a single curtained window, as if shrouded by a translucent third eyelid, illumes the squint of an unmade bed. This place is revelatory, and tormenting, and pleasurable.
In Zürn’s semi-fictive manuscript, the protagonist first enters the House of Illnesses for an ‘eye complaint’ – her mortal enemy has shot through the two hearts of her eyes, restricting her sight to only one direction. This she covets as her ‘new line of vision’. Jaccarini’s image processing systems, too, establish a new line of vision, generating intricate three-dimensional spaces: she hones a dimly lit dreamscape with no gaze outward.
For Jaccarini, her house identifies an inactivity implicit in the stillness of its scenes. By Zurn’s narrator’s account, “I am supposed to feel strong so I can act once more, but inaction is precisely the best state for me to be in at the moment. I shall stumble over one of these enforced actions and fall flat on my nose.”.
Documentation by Amy May Stuart.
Images courtesy of Ariane Jaccarini.