Playing House

Playing House is a non-linear narrative told through prose poetry and collage. The project comprises fifty-two cards, which can be shuffled or read in their original sequence. Each card features a poem on its face and a collage on its back. The text chronicles the life of a man and his relationships as he performs his identity against the domestic backdrop of middle America. Each collage serves as a non-representational meditation on the content of its respective verse, and is created from wallpaper fragments to further reference the facade of domesticity. Playing House is a collection of moments from the life of the protagonist as he struggles to reconcile his past — a failed marriage, a complicated childhood, and the necessity of keeping up appearances — with his new life as an openly gay man in a tumultuous relationship. Through its indeterminate structure, Playing House explores the workings of memory, the influence of the past on the present, and the inadequacy of language as a means of communication. The text, the imagery, the structure, and the reading experience are all connected by a number of motifs. Among these are surface, simulacra, and fragmentation.

As an installation, this iteration of the project further contextualizes the poetry and reenforces the fragmentation and tension from the text in a form that moves beyond the intimate viewer relation of the deck of cards. The precarious sculpture references 1950s suburbia and sits upon a mid-century-style writing desk, providing clues to unravelling the narrative. On the wall behind, the entire text is displayed and the collages return to their original function as wallpaper.

This project is a collaboration with Carley Gomez, who wrote the text and executed many of the collages.