Bjarne Melgaard: A House to Die In

Bjarne Melgaard, A House to Die in, installation view at ICA
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Artist Bjarne Melgaard's design 'concept' for his own residence is a dystopian take on the self-built dream home,'a house to commit suicide in, a house to die inside, a house for not living'. Such contrary confessionals abound in this architectural collaboration-in-process between the artist and Norwegian design firm Snøhetta. Tensions between Melgaard's absurd visions and the structural needs of the architects are felt in the accumulating design, and the artist's antagonistic texts muddy the straightforward framing of this 'documentary' exhibition.

Like some junked-up Tracy Island, Melgaard's villa channels 'narcotecture', the nouveau riche, ostentatious style of drug barons' mansions. Represented via drawings, models, objects of 'inspiration' – crystal meth pipes, toys and needles – and a 1:1 scale mock-up of its façade, Melgaard's hilltop design depicts a black geometric structure resting upon a series of large white tigers. Alongside, a giant golden mask is sunken into the hillside. In keeping with the vulgarity, the gallery has been painted a pearlescent turquoise and carpeted with lime green rugs.

Further troubling this contentious design, the upper gallery of the ICA has been painted a sickly orange and hung with paintings originally made by Melgaard, that have now been painted over by untrained artists. Apparently destined for the house's interior, with these repellent canvases Melgaard provocatively draws together insider art with outsider art.

A truly ugly environment heated by Melgaard's vitriolic scrawl, this highly affecting exhibition not only documents the artist's architectural pursuit, but presents a critical and immersive installation – one that stands strong regardless of the proposed build, which is scheduled for completion in 2015.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Artist plots his own demise in bonkers Bond villain villa.

Event website: http://www.ica.org.uk

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