02/22: Racheal Whiteread

I have an ongoing interest in trying to “cast” the streets and alleyways of old cities, such as the Casbah of Algiers or the medinas of Ghardaia. Back in 1993 Rachel Whiteread cast the inside of a house in concrete, deconstructing the house around it and letting the concrete stand exposed. (The back story and impact of the piece can be read here. The two images below are also from Apollo Magazine:)

image_large whiteread house WHITEREAD-1993-House-View-2_photo-by-Sue-Omerodfull

This video combines two interviews with Rachel, one during the piece’s creation and one years after. The sculpture has the quality of being a memorial to the house which once stood on the site. I would argue it does a better job of describing the house which served as the form work than the actual house did. Below are photographs of “Untitled” (1999), representing library stacks on the left, and Ghost (1993) on the right. This technique offers an interesting perspective on the world in which we all inhabit, in the empty space between objects.

whitereadStacks 373150473_ac3e67dbe7_o


All of these projects represent places contained by buildings or rooms. This technique could be transfered outside to mark and register the exterior facades of buildings, the surfaces of sidewalks, the physical boundaries of the street. I had previously mentioned a sketching class (Chefchaouen, or the Blue City) where I started to explore what a solid representation of urban voids would look like, all of which was directly inspired by Rachel Whiteread’s work.

DSCF5316 DSCF5315 DSCF5305 DSCF5306


If these models could replicate the intimate detail achieved by House or Ghost, a bay window or projecting column or a recessed window, it could offer a very rich glimpse of a place. But how would such a cast address the sky? Would the cast end at the top of a facade? Would it express the surface of the roof?


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