Renée Van Halm
B.C. Binning Gallery
The subject of Dream Home is real estate, particularly how the idea of domesticity and “home” is constructed in the public imagination. On a given date last year, Renée Van Halm selected the largest and smallest properties for sale on Vancouver's West Side. She utilized their floor plans, procured from Vancouver's Multiple Listing Service, as the basis for imagining how two properties at the extreme ends of affordability might be configured. The result is two sculptural installations in which over forty rooms of the Big House and two small rooms of The Apartment have been modeled in scale and displayed in an architecturally “exploded” format on the gallery's floor. On the left hand side of the B.C. Binning Gallery sits the upper and lower floor of the larger dwelling, to the right sits a small apartment. In the artist's words, "The range of property size reflects how we define suitable habitation. The two sites represent opposing attitudes to the project of home — the larger revivalist structure is steeped in nostalgia, isolated and bunker-like; the smaller a bottom-line, efficient machine where the living space fits like an article of clothing." Emphasizing how individuated these ideas can be, Van Halm has painted each room of the two sculptures using one of the thousands of varieties of white that can be found in any paint store, and which are usually employed in private, interior spaces.
Accompanying Dream Home is Listings — gouache paintings depicting a variety of houses whose images Van Halm also took from the real estate listing service. They are intimate depictions of ostentatious houses, and point to one of Van Halm's recurring themes: how the private home is implicated in systems of public display. Large homes are often meant to advertise bourgeois attributes of wealth, respectability and leisure, but also to indicate retreat, privacy and a removal from the social ills of the contemporary urban world. Van Halm's gouaches exhibit how these often contradictory desires are elaborated in a variety of architectural realizations.