The Israel Museum, Jerusalem presents an innovative exhibition tracing the artistic appropriation of domestic objects from the early 20thcentury through the present day.
The first of its kind, the exhibition is organized as a series of “rooms” suggesting a traditional domestic interior, with 120 artworks inspired by household objects installed in corresponding galleries labelled “bedroom,” “living room,” “bathroom,” and other spaces. As visitors move through the exhibition space, reminiscent of an IKEA store, the layout and range of works create an experience of “home” that is both familiar and disorienting.
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100 years after Marcel Duchamp presented Fountain, a signed porcelain urinal which shocked the art world at the time, No Place Like Home celebrates artists such as Louise Bourgeois, Andy Warhol, and Yayoi Kusama, who incorporated household items into their work, removing them from the context of the home in ways that subvert everyday experience. The works on display prompt new perspectives on concepts that are negotiated in the domestic sphere, such as gender roles, definitions of family, and questions of place and displacement.
“Grater Divide” (2002) by Mona Hatoum, a Palestinian-British artist born in Lebanon, is a human-sized cheese grater resembling a room divider.
The object’s enlarged grates appear sharp and dangerous, invoking both political rivalry and repressive fixed gender roles.
In “Boy Scout” (2008) by Michael Elmgreen & Ingar Dragset, the top mattress in a set of bunk beds is inverted to face the bottom one, hinting at sexual fantasies that may appear at early stages in life.
“MAMAD” (2016) by Ben Gitai resembles a safe room, which every residence in Israel must contain. Upon entering the structure, made of natural materials found near David Ben-Gurion’s cabin in the Negev Desert, visitors can view the exhibition from a quiet space that encourages contemplation on unpredictability, security, and freedom.
Drawing inspiration from IKEA’s graphic language, the exhibition catalog attempts to emphasize the ideological and conceptual distance between the home portrayed by the participating artists and that of IKEA. In place of useful designs, low prices, and utopian texts, the exhibition catalog includes images of the artworks, artist statements, and essays that shed light on various interpretations of the domestic object and on the role of home in modern society.