As for what she wants visitors to get out of the exhibit, Koumoundouros just hopes it will help them think about -- even question -- how much our economy is based on the housing market.
'Ownership and consumption are linked to how much our economy is consumed based," she argues. "[This view of housing] is so specifically American. And I love digging that out, and I think questioning it is part of maybe a shift.' — Marketplace.org
The phrase "a place to call home" rings loud and clear in the "Dream House Resource Center" exhibit by artist Olga Koumoundouros currently at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles until August 18. Her exhibit focuses on the commodification of the home in America through the context of America's struggling housing industry and its widespread consequences. The idea came from Koumoundouros' own housing hardships, when her partner was laid off from his architecture job right after they purchased a house in the same week.
Visitors are welcomed in by the giant colorful McMansion doors that Koumoundouros refurbished surrounded by transparent walls. A white board on one side displays the latest headlines and stats in housing. A rainbow-colored timeline of 20th-century American housing on the walls wraps around the exhibit, each strand of the rainbow explaining the different factors leading up to the current state of the U.S. housing industry -- from the idealistic outlook of achieving The American Dream to one ridden with anxiety in an unstable market.
The informational booth, featuring various guests curated by Koumoundouros, is a unique aspect to the exhibit. The booth is set up with real-estate brokers, homeless rights activists, and other housing professionals ready to provide assistance and information. This exchange of narratives gives everyone a chance to hear different perspectives on the issue.
Koumoundouros hopes her exhibit encourages visitors to question the housing business and think critically about its substantial weight in the U.S. economy -- not to mention America's love for consumerism in just about everything. Her exhibit points out that the housing market has as much risk as any other industry out there, and it makes us think twice about how and where we place value in our lives. On the other hand, the "Dream Home Resource Center" is a simple reminder of how helpful it can be to reach out to our neighbors.
Photos courtesy of the Hammer Museum and Marketplace.org.