In The House Imaginary, the house is a lens through which artists explore memory, identity, and belonging in an increasingly itinerant world. The house can be a lightning rod in which social policies around immigration, homelessness, urban planning, race, and gender intersect with personal histories and fictions. After the horrors of World War II, theorist Theodor Adorno famously declared, “dwelling, in the proper sense, is now impossible…. The house is past.” He was claiming that personal security can no longer be considered apart from the systemic oppressions and omissions necessary to retain that security. This recognition is achingly urgent today in an era of global migrations, heightened awareness of inequalities, and San José’s own housing crisis.

In adopting the complex archetype of the house to examine a myriad of personal, social, and timely political themes, the artists in the exhibition present work that is diverse in perspective and full of contradiction. The House Imaginary will comprise approximately forty-five sculptures, paintings, films, photographs, and works on paper, including objects drawn from SJMA’s permanent collection as well as key loans.

The exhibition will include work by Carmen Argote, Mildred Howard, Mike Kelly, Rachel Whiteread, and Zarina, all of whom have sustained engagements with houses in their work as a means to investigate memory, collectivity, and absence. Other artists use the architectural house as an occasional surrogate. Tabaimo’s animated installation dolefullhouse (2007) explores the complexities of maintaining Japanese identity in an increasingly globalized society. Films and paintings by Salomon Huerta, Maxime Rossi, and Apichatpong Weerasethakul address complex fictions of knowing others through their domiciles. The exhibition will also include work by Carmen Lomas Garza, Todd Hido, Won Ju Lim, An Te Liu, Bill Owens, Larry Sultan, and others.