Can a party ever be art? We’re sure that party planners would like to think so. Some have even written books on the subject. But they probably didn’t have Andrew Ohanesian‘s “The House Party” in mind.
Inspired, apparently, by the drunkenness and debauchery of the classic house parties favored by American suburbia, Ohanesian built an insanely detailed replica of a suburban house in the middle of a Brooklyn gallery. Then, at the opening, he supplied the alcohol and let people trash the place. He and the gallery, Pierogi, split the $25,000 cost of the project.
According to the Pierogi press release about the installation, though, the idea wasn’t to give total control to the guests:
Although The House Party aims to be an authentic recreation of a uniquely American rite of passage characterized by its namesake, the seemingly innocuous and gracious host only relinquishes the illusion of control to his guests, discretely imposing his artistic vision and control on the environment and its happenings. Accomplished through the architectural structure and hyper-real quality of the space, which, by design, subtly suspends the audience’s greater awareness of the gallery context itself; thereby unlocking behavioral patterns and social cues usually reserved for a venue outside of the art gallery, such as an actual house party.
Apparently, everything went according to plan.
At 8 PM, things were maybe a little awkward at Brooklyn artist Andrew Ohanesian’s “House Party” installation at Pierogi’s The Boiler space on a heavily industrial street on the border of the Williamsburg and Greenpoint neighborhoods. … By 10 that night, however, the scene had changed completely. Ohanesian’s perfect replica of a suburban home’s ground floor was getting completely destroyed.
The crowd of opening-goers sweating it out in the packed living room gradually left their perches on sofa arms and coffee tables and started dancing to the DJ spinning 1990s throwbacks and 2000s-era hip-hop on top of the dining-room table. Elsewhere in the house, the mattress in the children’s bedroom was being flipped over and Playboy magazines pulled from underneath. Outside, someone shouted about finding a stash of weed in the closet. Walls were attacked with markers, mirrors broken, and furniture tipped.
The exhibit is on display until November 18, or you can check out the after-party photos here. Party on.
More from Smithsonian.com: