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BATHROOM GOSSIP

Charlie Donaldson & Hamish Lonergan | curated by Sophie Rose

Opening | Friday 12 July 2019 6-8pm
Exhibition | 13 – 27 July 2019

Artist talk Saturday 27 July 3-4pm

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House (1951) is important for architectural modernism—with its radical transparency, open plan and meticulous detailing—but at least some of its fame is gossipy. Mies was rumoured to be sleeping with the client, Dr Edith Farnsworth, and when their friendship soured they sued each other. Mies insisted on two bathrooms for a one-bedroom house, reportedly obsessed that guests might see Farnsworth’s dressing gown. The two bathrooms are separated from the exterior to preserve the continuous glass façade; small, windowless, beige spaces in a house filled with light and natural vistas. There are few blank surfaces to hang art in the house, so the next owner hung his collection in hermetically sealed frames in the shower.

‘Bathroom Gossip’ reinstates rumour in architecture. Bringing together the work of architectural graduate Hamish Lonergan and artist Charlie Donaldson, the show includes a 1:1 model of the left bathroom and (faux) archival material exposing Mies and Farnworth’s relationship and a wider conspiracy to use modernism as a cultural weapon in the Cold War effort.

Lonergan and Donaldson propose an alternative narrative of the Farnsworth House. In this account, clean formalism is replaced by messy love affairs; the Avant-garde becomes a guise for nuclear warfare; and direct chronology gives way to tabloid frenzy. The history offered by Lonergan and Donaldson is patchy and deeply neurotic—so strange that it might just be true.