Displayed on the East River overlooking the New York skyline, Social Dress New Orleans – 730 Days After is a ghostly full-scale latex replica of a demolished Lower Ninth Ward shotgun-style home.
Sculptor and performance artist Takashi Horisaki (b. 1974, Japan) is pleased to announce the unveiling of a public art installation at Socrates Sculpture Park. The culmination of a three-month effort at 1941 Caffin Avenue, in the still-devastated Lower Ninth Ward neighborhood, Social Dress New Orleans – 730 Days After opens Sunday July 29th in Long Island City, Queens. It will remain on view through October 28.
Beautifully juxtaposing the bustling New York skyline with physical remnants of destruction in New Orleans, Horisaki has envisioned a way to make this tragedy tangible to those far removed from the disaster. It is the artist’s hope that his project will inspire further support for Louisiana’s recovery efforts.
Tuesday, July 10th, marks the completion of Horisaki’s mold casting and peeling process in New Orleans. He applied layers of latex mixed with paint to create a textured 3-D print of a house that will be demolished within weeks by the US Army Corps of Engineers. Later this month, the thin but strong rubber skin will be transported and stretched over a full-scale frame that mimics the original structure. Horisaki has worked with great urgency to complete the project. Racing to complete the mold casting, he has mobilized a community of active Louisiana artists, friends and volunteers. Since the project’s inception this spring, the struggle for the artwork’s creation has been documented on the artist’s blog (http://socialdress-neworleans.blogspot.com).
In March Horisaki was granted permission by former residents to use the property, and soon afterward he learned of the Army Corps’ plan to level the house. Because 1941 Caffin was in danger of collapse and situated in an area of the Lower Ninth Ward heavily damaged by the storm, it was scheduled for demolition. Not sure how to legally complete his project in time, Horisaki met lawyer Bruce G. Whittaker, who read about the art project in the New Orleans’ Times Picayune. Whittaker volunteered to negotiate with the city so that the house could stand while Horisaki finished the latex mold.
Exposing some of the social, political and environmental systems at work within this fragile landscape, Horisaki’s project explores contemporary terrain shared by Gordon Matta-Clark, Christo, Maya Lin, and Robert Smithson. Social Dress New Orleans – 730 Days After monumentalizes the tragedies endured by past and present Louisiana residents. “A former professor told me how difficult it is for him to make his own artwork still, and so I wondered if I- a neutral observer, not exactly an outsider, but with some distance and perspective on the situation -could express their feelings through my sculpture,” says Horisaki. The artist spent his first three years in America living in New Orleans, eventually earning a BFA from Loyola University.
Driven by the desire to preserve coastal wetlands in the Gulf area, Horisaki explains, “Every day working at the house I can see so many lizards, bugs and creatures that I have never seen in other places. There is a variety of life that is unique to this place. It is rather beautiful, but it will disappear if the wetlands erode.”