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Harris & Daughter Home Goods

Ilana Harris-Babou

A photo of Ilana Harris-Babou
A photo of Ilana Harris-Babou

Due to the process-based nature of the Session program, this project will undergo constant modifications; the features of this page provide accruing information on the project’s developments.

June 7–August 14, 2018

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On June 7, Ilana Harris-Babou will begin work on Harris and Daughter Home Goods, a project that will transform Recess into a hardware store, cooking show set, showroom, and interrogation of the American Dream.

With the help of the artist’s mother, Sheila Harris, Harris-Babou will devote the duration of her Session to shooting a new video work on a film set that she will construct in the space. Throughout her Session, Sheila and Ilana will engage visitors as “special guests” in an ongoing video piece and enlist the public as participants in video tutorials informed by the aspirational logic of cooking and home improvement television programs. Guests will be considered experts on wall insulation, plumbing, and home appliances, disrupting conventional assertions of specialist knowledge.

In hijacking the language of home improvement television, Harris and Daughter Home Goods will invite visitors to participate in the creation of hypothetical domestic products that alternate between the glossy, the ephemeral, and the abject. Visitors will mold hybrid ceramic objects on site that verge on the productive and useless, questioning the ways in which consumer home products offer the promise of an ordered life through the possibility of an ordered home. Ilana is interested in how the artist’s studio might be analogous to other spaces of creation, such as the kitchen or toolshed. The project explores the ways we shape our identity by surrounding ourselves with what we have made.

Like the home, the hardware store is a site fraught by hierarchies and presuppositions of gender. Working in direct opposition to both the expensive home design stores that fill New York City neighborhoods today as well as the notion of the artist as solitary genius, Harris and Daughter Home Goods will ask visitors to consider which kinds of creative labor are revered and which are mundane. What is different, or the same, in the space of the studio and the space of the kitchen? And how do the notions of the taste, class, and specialized knowledge that define these spheres foreclose the possibilities for us to reimagine them anew?

Session invites artists to use Recess’s public platform to combine productive studio space with dynamic exhibition opportunities. Sessions remain open to the public from the first day of the artist’s project through the last, encouraging sustained dialogue between artists and audiences. Due to the process-based nature of Session, projects undergo constant revision and the above proposal is subject to change.

About the artist

Ilana Harris-Babou

Ilana Harris-Babou’s work is interdisciplinary, spanning sculpture and installation, but grounded in video. She references the language of cooking shows, music videos, and home improvement television, using the aspirational tropes of popular culture. Once seen, the work distorts and distends the abject failures of material desire. Harris-Babou uses humor as a means to digest painful realities. Her videos reference these genres to confront the expectations of the American dream, mining the ever unreliable notion that hard work will lead to upward mobility and economic freedom.

She has exhibited throughout the US and Europe, with solo exhibitions at The Museum of Arts & Design in New York and Vox Populi Gallery in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Other venues include the De Young Museum in San Francisco, Abrons Art Center in New York, the Zuckerman Museum of Art in Kennesaw, Georgia, Le Doc in Paris, France, the Jewish Museum in New York, SculptureCenter in Long Island City, and Larrie in New York. Harris-Babou has received awards from the Rema Hort Mann Foundation, The New York Community Trust Van Lier Fellowship Program, the Yale University Art Gallery, and the Siragusa Family Foundation. She previously taught in the Sculpture + Extended Media department at Virginia Commonwealth University as a Fountainhead Fellow and is currently a Visiting Artist at Williams College in Massachusetts.

artist website


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