Architecture affects us in more ways than we realize. Like a song or painting that resonates deep inside of you, architecture can grab and shake you up. Be it interior or exterior, the way a place looks and feels and what inhabits it has a strong tie to how you feel. Architecture is the only art/design practice that can house you: your relationship to it is more profound than you realize.
Artist Stephen Prina realizes this. The Los Angeles based artist had a visual bug stuck in his mind that was the result of an architectural encounter. In the 1980s, he was walking down La Brea Avenue with artist Christopher Williams when the two saw a “fitted unit by architect R. M. Schindler.” It was a built-in desk that was painted bright pink and absolutely did not belong in its surrounding: it was a small piece of a cohesive spacial thought that was stripped from its context. Dwelling on this idea, Prina has made a reunion of objects: he has used Schindler’s plans and photographs to reconstruct these pieces of interior architecture and connect them all back together. As He Remembered It is the resulting effort, a bright pink get-together of furniture.
The show consists of twenty eight furniture units, all copies of Schindler’s pieces. They’re all painted Pantone Honeysuckle, the 2011 Color of the Year, and are organized in a grid pattern that reflects their original plans. They look like little rooms with invisible hallways, ones that you can wander in and out of and examine on every side. Set on the top floor of LACMA’s Broad building, the bright white room the pieces chill out in is like a nice mixing space for these pieces to speak with each other. You feel a bit like you’re invading a Kubrickian film set (How fitting!) as you poke around the pink pieces.
There is an inherent comedy in As He Remembered It. First, everything is bright pink. This isn’t a neon pink but instead a redder Pepto Bismol pink, a pink that isn’t fleshy or natural, a pink that reminds you of that viral photo of chicken McNuggets being made. Why would Schindler have chosen this color? Was there an entire house full of pink oddities? Was this piece repainted in an attempt to have it fit in to its new home? Moreover, as you wander from piece to piece you can see the painter’s hand at work as the pink tries its very hardest to conceal any evidence of a base. There are also some hysterical points where curtains and mattresses and couches are painted pink, these soft materials that do not lend themselves to being canvases. There’s a funny curtain whose edges curl in from the weight of the pink paint on its surface.
There is something meditative in this pink interior architecture. Like a centering circle, you focus on the design and the still dance the pieces do with each other, volleying one curve to another all in effort to continue molding to the form of the space. As you exit this pink place, you do feel like spirits that used these furniture pieces still linger or that the furniture has a life of its own. It would be no surprise to find that the ghosts of architects and design icons are using As He Remembered It as their playground–or that the furniture is playing around, speaking to each other like characters in an architectural Toy Story.
The installation is presented as a part of The Getty’s not-as-hyped sequel to Pacific Standard Time. While many of the exhibits and events have been undershared and unknown, Prina’s has been following us likely because it is such a bizarre and entrancing examination of architecture in Southern California. The installation is also shown with some of Prina’s Exquisite Corpse pieces and a funny trio of pieces that includes Prina and Flavin riffing off of Margo Leavin. These pieces are special but As He Remembered It overpowers them, its pinkness kindly polluting the atmosphere and attracting you back into it to imagine yourself lounging around in a giant pink palace. Enjoy the assembly of pink friends while you can: this reunion will only last for so long, like passing an odd desk in a window on La Brea.
Read more on Stephen Prina’s As He Remembered It at LACMA here. The installation will be on view through August 4.