Open House in York, Alabama

YORK, ALABAMA, USA – Residents worked with artist Matthew Mazzotta to convert an abandon house into a public space with past and future memories.  See the great timelapse history video of the development and operation of Open House.  http://vimeo.com/70386286

Building used for materials and then burned to use the land for Open House

Building used for materials and then burned to use the land for Open House

How Open House came to be?

In January of 2011 Matthew Mazzotta began working with the Coleman Center for the Arts (CCA.) Adopting the CCA methodology of developing projects through social engagement, Mazzotta invited area residents to join him for a creative discussion about public space. Sitting in an outdoor living room nestled inside of orange cones on the middle of Avenue A, area residents brought items from their homes to lend to the outdoor living room. The conversation that followed highlighted participants love for York but also their frustration with the community’s loss of public space, the spread of blight and the lack of racially integrated and secular social spaces. The conversation served as an impetus for “Open House” which has transformed a blighted property into a public outdoor theater in downtown York.

Open House by Matthew Massotta in York, Alabama.

Open House by Matthew Massotta in York, Alabama.

How it works?

The metamorphosis of Open House is designed to require cooperation. It takes four people one and a half hours to unfold the structure. The foundation is made of used railroad ties which anchor the custom fabricated industrial hinges to five rows of stadium seating. The rows of seats fold down with the aid of a hand winch and enough manpower to counter balance the hefty, but agile structure.

House unfolded into public seating for the community.

House unfolded into public seating for the community.

Critical Impact

Through the project, the artist hopes to directly address the lack of public space in York, AL by providing a physical location that becomes a common ground for community dialogue and activities. The new structure carries the weight of the past through the materials that were salvaged and repurposed from the old structure, most visibly the original pink siding. When Open House is fully unfolded, it provides an opportunity for people to come together and experience the community from a new perspective. When it folds back up, it resembles the original abandoned house, reminding people of the history of what was there before.

Opening party for the use of Opening House in June 2013

Opening party for the use of Opening House in June 2013

Text and images from Dezeen.com and Colemanarts.org

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