Why don’t those two Frenchmen move their big heads so a person can get a better look at that house with the half-inch-by-half-inch
Plexiglas kitchen, and how about that two-inch powder blue acrylic swimming pool? There are just too many
humans fighting to look at the one- and two-foot models of the 26 houses at MOMA’s “The Un-Private House.” Unless a cosmic ray comes along and miniaturizes you, it will be hard.
The show has all the breathless promise of a World’s Fair with that House of Tomorrow, Oh Boy, We’ll Be Riding in Flying Cars sort of feeling. Yet the houses are part of the past—they were all designed in the last 10 years (Rem Koolhaas, Herzog & DeMeuron, et al.).
For the point of the exhibition, curated by Terence Riley, is to show what has been happening to the private house—how it has become more public, with more architectural transparency and more work-at-home detail, reconfigured with more open spaces as households have changed—one house for one woman; one house for two men; one house for 10,000 books.
Note that most of these homes belong to people who can afford to have a lily pond between the dining and the bedroom, or a slate and marble Soho loft with video monitors
on every wall flashing financial updates 24 hours a day.
More satisfying are the
projections for everybody else: the transparent glass house designed for a low-income neighborhood and the Digital House with liquid crystal walls, where a giant virtual chef
appears in the kitchen to show you how to make a pumpkin pie—all such a nice change from that other exhibition, the Un-Private Apartment by Force, that is going on in most New York flats until the end of the world, and where one can see more architectural permeability (more holes in the walls), changing demographics (six roommates instead of two to lower the rent), and all that integration of work and play (writing in bed).