The Fargo House is a project by artist and architect Dennis Maher.
The house mirages are the visions that are generated as the FARGO HOUSE gazes back at itself. They appear as amalgamated afterimages of collection, reassembly and repair. The mirages distort the house's objects and furnishings, conjuring an illusory world from existing surfaces, textures, and forms. In so doing, they reveal the lucidity of the house's apertures, conflating the everyday with realm of the dream.
The House Furnishings are miniature monuments that hint at new hybridized dwellings and other unstable micro-structures. Each component of these furnishings enters the front door of the Fargo House as an independent, utilitarian object, but, over time, rebels against the autonomy of use and embraces the unity of aggregated form. While the inhabitant of the house directs the flow of tables, chairs, lamps and other domestic objects through the matrix of the dwelling space, the House Furnishings convert the territory of each room into instances of collective living.
Sibley Dome, Cornell University. 2013.
This site-specific installation within the Sibley Dome was a satellite of the Fargo House. Like the house, the satellite was a constellation of assembled and excavated matter. It was constructed from found objects that include ordinary building materials, furniture, and domestic artifacts, many of which were culled from Maher’s own living space. The overarching canopy of Sibley Dome and other canopy-like objects—such as tents, umbrellas, and a trampoline—provided a surrogate environment for the Fargo House’s displaced “furnishings.” When the satellite exhausted the duration of its mission at Sibley, it returned to the Fargo House. Then, the various pieces of the satellite, along with the documentation of its voyage, were used in order to build a new dome within the house. The return of the satellite to this center and the re-absorption of its components into the house's matrix were essential in order for the house to expand its cosmology into previously unknown areas and to introduce new territories into the domestic sphere.
Project Assistants: Micaela Barker, Braedy Chapman, John Costello, Andrew delle Bovi, Juan Andres de Risio, Michael Gainer, Kathryn Hobert, Kyle Mcmindes, Matthew Rosen, Elizabeth Saleh, Daniel Salomon
Hancock Shaker Village. Pittsfield, MA. 2015.
The meetinghouse at Hancock Shaker Village was once a place where a community of believers gathered to perform rapturous dances that provided a counterpoint to their highly regimented lifestyle. The installation Church-Meeting-House consists of a “family” of assembled artifacts that have traveled from Maher’s church building in Buffalo to the meetinghouse in order to perform the equivalent of an ecstatic, visionary dance. A small study-like environment provides a contemplative space where Maher’s community of artifacts encounters the vicissitudes of Shaker life. The construction incorporates objects that are similar in function to elements of Shaker design, such as wardrobes, drop-leaf tables, chairs and chests of drawers. However, these components have been augmented and de-familiarized in order to suggest a spirited liberation from their ordinary uses and forms. The result appears as part room, part furnishing, and part architectural model. Echoing the release that regularly occurred at Shaker meetings, the installation features video footage of performances by members of Maher’s real and imagined community of builders—including The Roofer, The Electrician, and The Demolisher. In a euphoric eruption, a cosmology of objects, people and stories shake the meetinghouse with contemporary resonances to a bygone Shaker world.
Project Assistants: Matt Rosen, Kenzie McNamara, Kyle McMindes, Georrine Pierre
Bi-City Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism. Shenzhen, China. 2015.
Gazing through the window of the “urban village” toward the “urban center,” signs of development and progress appear as holes in the ground and obstructions in the sky. Such holes and obstructions erode the city’s collective memories. Soon, the city’s inhabitants will step outside to discover places that they have never known. Anamnesis refers to a form of knowledge imbued with the residue of the past. It summons those faint recollections which lie buried beneath our faculties for conscious self-reflection. When the city no longer invites this form of knowing, real and imagined places will collide. The Hole in the (Window of the) World House draws an imaginary conduit between two distant sites of architectural fantasy. It connects the Window of the World replica park in Shenzhen to the Fargo House in Buffalo, New York. The Window of the World contains replicas of 130 of the world’s most famous monuments, including places like the Eiffel tower, the Pyramids and the Palace at Versailles, all reproduced in miniature within a 118 acre park-like setting. The Fargo House is also a fantastic collection of miniature environments that, with each successive night of dreaming, move the inhabitant closer and closer to a world of impossible realities. Walking through the house, a miniature building might appear as a model, toy, statue, souvenir or symbol. Other times, it might be imagined as a structure of brick, stone or steel that has been unearthed from its surroundings. Every so often, the house’s window is opened and the weight of that small object is projected outward. When the object lands, it will fall upon a day dreamer’s desk in an assemblage of shifting reveries.
Project Assistants: Yumeng Chen, Meiyan Jin, Hongkai Li, Lesley Loo, Feng Zhu