When is a house not a house?
Whether it is the exposure to the high architecture of the Venice Architectural Biennale or the constant criticism of Healthabitat’s fixation on things practical …we have allowed this one news article to explore the link between art and housing.
Surrealist painter René Magritte’s famous painting “The Treachery of Images” displays a drawing of a pipe with the caption “Ceci n’est pas une pipe” (this is not a pipe).
The painting points out a problem with referential images: when we look at an image that refers to another object, making the connection between image and object replaces further thought about the work itself. The authors of the paper argue that to understand the failures of publicly funded housing for indigenous Australians we must do what Magritte prompts—pry the “image” of a house apart from what makes a “real” house.
Understanding the controversy surrounding the alleged “incapacity” of Aboriginal householders to care for their housing requires the recognition that, in some cases, “a pipe is not a pipe”.
“A length of polyvinyl chloride tubing is not a pipe,” the authors write, “when, as is the case with much indigenous housing in Australia, it is not connected to an effluent disposal system”. This is only one of the more common failings of structures that appear to be houses but are, in fact, “composite deceptions”.
with sin cere apologies to Rene Magritte