PART 2: 5 HOUSES 5 CITIES. The house in Amsterdam


PART 2: 5 HOUSES 5 CITIES. The house in Amsterdam - Thom Puckey

Lead, sulphur
1st floor of an old house on the Prinsengracht, Amsterdam

5 Houses 5 Cities was a project I carried out in 1983/84, in collaboration with Galerie De Appel Amsterdam, the Jan van Eyck Academy Maastricht, Het Apollohuis Eindhoven, the Museum of Modern Art Arnhem, and Galerie Corps de Garde Groningen. The project involved my moving into a ramshackle house in each of these cities. I spent one week completely isolated in each house, looking for and reading 'signs' (marks on the wall, cracks in the woodwork etc.), and from these, drawing and planning an installation; then one week constructing this installation. Then the house was opened to the public for a week. After this third week I allowed myself one week free, whereafter I moved to the following house. I restricted my working materials to one metal and one chemical for each house, allowing myself otherwise only wood as a construction material and sometimes water. I drew much from old alchemical texts for inspiration and methodology, and in addition some texts by Rudolf Steiner. This house in Amsterdam, the second house in my project '5 Houses, 5 Cities' was directly adjacent to Anne Frank's house on the Prinsengracht. I made moulds of wax forms I cast from the deep cracks in the huge wooden beams of this house, which I then cast in lead, and laid them out as a sparkling river in the middle of a long canyon, made from huge sheets of lead. At the end of this canyon I placed a large block of sulphur, like a sun.