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Home Sweet Home

 

Home Sweet Home imagines the wanderings of a displaced Pioneer and a wayward 19th Century Magic Lantern Projectionist named Madame Blueberry.

Encapsulated in these two figures are opposing ideas of itinerancy and geographic stability. The Pioneer embodies stagnation— times when we have propelled ourselves to an unforgiving place and hope to find a way out. Through the ambulatory Projectionista, I suggest the way out by exploring various forms and meanings of projection. Madame Blueberry has a more steadfast demeanor than her Pioneer counterpart. She accepts mobility as a way of life.

The landscapes highlighted in this installation are of Arizona and Florida— two of the areas hardest hit by the mortgage crisis. The housing developments pictured in the Arizona footage are either partially completed construction projects (Rancho Mirage) or flooded with foreclosed and “underwater” homes (Rancho El Dorado).

For a 19th century American, the Projectionista’s trajectory is backwards. She has reverse-traversed the U.S.— from Arizona to Florida— to attempt to create a sense of home. In Gainesville and Jacksonville Florida, she projects the title "Home Sweet Home" on foreclosed houses. To locate the properties, I navigate to each address using a free Foreclosures iPhone App—its very availability is a sign of our complex economic times.

Contrary to our 19th century dreams of Main Street USA, home is not a castle around a corner, but an electronic mirage. Like trying to catch a runaway horse, claim a stone stallion, or gallop on the back of a plush stick pony— shining light onto an empty building may be an absurd endeavor. But perhaps through projection, something is revealed? Something is remembered? A house is reminded it might be a home.

Curatorial Commentary by Holly E. Hughes, Associate Curator, Albright-Knox Art Gallery:

I was first introduced to Victoria Bradbury’s work as a juror for the 2009 Southern Tier Biennial. For that exhibition, my co-juror Leonard Urso and I selected her captivatingly beautiful video work Ocean of Oceans: Limbs (2009) as the Best in Show recipient, a decision that resulted in her contributions to this solo installation.

Bradbury’s work mediates the ground between history and contemporary media. Her part-sculptural, part-cinematic, part-experimental approach to artmaking weaves a narrative that simultaneously engages the past, present, and future. Home Sweet Home, a multimedia installation culled from digital prints, live Internet foreclosure headlines, video stills, and a handmade quilt as well as other small, embroidered pieces, employs the pioneer figure as an observer to censure the nation’s current housing crisis and two of the hardest-hit-states: Florida and Arizona. While these regions have been continuously weathering the impact of the housing fallout, other states like Ohio and Michigan have also been affected, despite not seeing a huge housing price increate in recent years. One can argue that, unlike past housing crises, this one is undeniably universal in nature—rendering Bradbury’s work an even more effectually potent commentary.

The pioneer figure is not unfamiliar in Bradbury’s work. She utilizes this figure as a sounding board to revisit regions throughout the United States. In Pioneer (2008), the figure wanders aimlessly throughout the modern-day Western plains searching for her horse companion and her home. However, Bradbury’s most recent work leaves us questioning, is home still where the heart is?

With current headlines boasting both “crisis” and “solution,” we are led to believe that the end of the current housing dilemma is near. This leaves me to wonder, is the effervescent nature of the American economy leading us to believe that the notion of “home” is also on the decline? Bradbury’s work creates a space in which home is both history and memory, thwarted by insecurity and external conditions. Maya Angelou once said, “You can never go home again, but the truth is you can never leave home, so it’s all right.”

Hughes, Holly E. in “Home Sweet Home, Victoria Bradbury 2010", ed. Anne Conroy-Baiter, (Olean NY: The Cattaraugus County Arts Council, 2010).