ANIMAL’s feature Artist’s Notebook asks artists to show us their original “idea sketch” next to a finished piece. This week, artist Andrew Ohanesian talks about all the planning that went into The House Party — an installation of a suburban house inside the Boiler Gallery in Brooklyn last year, which we may or may not have had a part in trashing.

The idea was to reframe the house party as a cultural artifact. I hate stagnation in the work, so I wanted it to LIVE — to not just be a forensic examination of a house party, but a time machine.

The actual piece is made up of my front-loaded effort, ripe with nostalgia and detail which then unlocks the baggage held by every red-blooded American who went through the high school pressure cooker, a gauntlet that has been exported by Hollywood to the world. It is our shared experience in that house party battlefield that makes the actual piece: You are simultaneously observing and are observed; there is no escape.

The building of the actual house started as a means to an end. In order to have a “house party” one must first build a house.

What I never anticipated was falling in love with the build-out in a Alec Guinness The Bridge on the River Kwai kind of way — researching and developing the plans, asking yourself…

What makes a house American?

What thickness of sheetrock feels right?

Does this carpet fit aesthetically?
Where do I hide the porno?
Of course, the toilet has to flush!

At the opening, when the mood of the party turned dark around 11pm, I realized that the plans I had set in motion 2 months ago were coming back to fuck me and a sense of dread and regret washed over me.

That, in hindsight, made the experience complete.

I wouldn’t have it any other way.

The Kickstarter for Big Bad Art — a documentary about this project — was recently funded. Look forward to incriminating footage hopefully not featuring anyone involved with our website. All images/video courtesy of the artist.

Previous Artist’s Notebook selects:

Artist’s Notebook: Saoirse Wall
Artist’s Notebook: Melissa F. Clarke
Artist’s Notebook: Tristan Perich
Artist’s Notebook: Man Bartlett
Artist’s Notebook: Nate Hill
Artist’s Notebook: Jennifer Catron and Paul Outlaw
Artist’s Notebook: Angela Washko