Sculptor Thomas Houseago created an object/environment that could be construed as all things to many people. Called Moun Room (2013–14), the installation was a huge cubistic maze divided into three chambers. Visitors could walk, climb, and crawl through it, sit in a corner, gaze out through its arched apertures, or worship, work, meditate, or congregate there. Stunning in a white modernist way and roughly construed like a cave dwelling, it satisfied in the way Cubism should and would, at once exposing inside and out, back, front, and side.
The piece immediately evokes Le Corbusier, but it is both simpler and more open-ended than that architect’s gruff concrete structures, such as Harvard’s Carpenter Center.
But, at its heart, Houseago’s plaster, hemp, and iron-rebar labyrinth has the attitude of a building in many costumes and states of dress and undress, which is strangely not surprising given the artist’s history as a figural sculptor. Witness his powerful piece Baby (2009–10) in the last Whitney Biennial that dramatically shows its muscular inner Picasso workings and is half pencil sketch.
That Moun Room has this human dimension in all its guises is the real source of its originality and psychological complexity. It creates as much delight as it does disorientation—which is no mean achievement for a work of art.
A version of this story originally appeared in the March 2015 issue of ARTnews on page 81.