August 4–17, 2012
West Oakland, CA
In a group-curated installation organized by S.H.E.D. Projects in a West Oakland house, Stairwell’s departed from its typical stair settings, inviting artists Emily Gable and Calder Yates to make new site-specific works in two areas of the house. In the street-facing bedroom just inside the front door, Gable created an installation within and around a wall’s exposed 2-by-4s. At the rear of the house, Yates constructed a viewer-activated experience in the glass window box over the kitchen sink.
Gable’s piece explored notions of gravity using materials found on the property. Muslin bags were filled with soil from the unfinished ground floor of the house and placed in the bedroom, unifying the interior and exterior of the exhibition site. Yates used household items and the element of surprise to create a precarious and disruptive situation within this highly domestic space. The work tread a thin line between light-hearted playfulness and unexpected aggression.
Both artists contradicted expectations for the home environment. Gable’s soil, an unwanted byproduct of laying a new foundation for the house, was incongruous with the home’s meticulous craftsmanship. At the kitchen sink, Yates threatened to break the tenuous boundary between kitchen and garden, shelter and exposure.