A Vast Furniture: Installation by Carmen Argote

  • Exhibition

835 N Kings Road
West Hollywood, CA 90069

Part one: Installation at the MAK Center for Art and Architecture at the Schindler House
April 17 – May 17, 2015

Part two: Installation at High Desert Test Sites
May 23 – June 20, 2015

With one sculpture and two sites, Los Angeles-based artist Carmen Argote used the floor plan of the Schindler House as an inspiration and guide to literalize the understanding of architectural space as delineated and distinguished from non-architected space.

Part one featured a 1:1 sculptural tracing of the footprint of the house’s indoor and outdoor rooms. Argote materialized the simple line-drawing action that gave shape to the house’s determining features back in 1921, when fresh memories of time in Yosemite National Park led the architect to produce what he conceived of as a permanent campsite. In the waning days of pastureland surrounding Kings Road, the Schindlers staked claim to both a plot and a lifestyle, with every gesture after the floor plan further rooting their bohemian ideals to a 100 by 200 foot lot as the city grew around them.

Public programming during Part one referred to these early decisions by the Schindlers, and explored the relationship between camping and setting up home, reviewed the construction of one landscape that followed the loss of a first, and situated the house alongside other radical attempts at homeownership in Southern California.

For Part two, Argote’s sculpture was separated from its defining walls and precisely reconstructed in an open landscape in the Mojave Desert. Here, Argote theoretically realized an off-the-cuff proposal made by Schindler protégé Gregory Ain at an early Schindler House preservation meeting: considering the monumental costs of restoration and accounting for how West Hollywood had so radically changed since construction, Ain suggested to put the Kings Road property on the market, let it meet its inevitable fate, and use the profits to rebuild the house exactly to original specifications elsewhere, as an architecture study center: “Why don’t you do what Schindler did, just go out in the desert and build one? It doesn’t belong on a tree-lined, apartment-house neighborhood. It was built to be in the desert.”* 

Installed in collaboration with Joshua Tree-based High Desert Test Sites, the traced line-as-object carried the influence and sociocultural imprint of the house. Within the outlined perimeter of vast horizons, the architecture of both spaces were simultaneously activated. Visitors were able to take up residence in the ghost image of the Schindler House as the sculpture functioned both to define a campsite and host conversation around home ownership, cycles of prospecting throughout the region’s history, and the meaning of the outskirts to a city like Los Angeles.

Programming at the Schindler House in West Hollywood

Friday, April 17, 2015
Opening reception, 7:00-9:00 pm.

Sunday, April 26, 2015
Nature walk, 1:00-2:30 pm.
A guided tour of the Kings Road gardens and landscaping, was led by the artist and MAK Center staff.

Your Guide to Living in the West, 6:00-9:00 pm
Group reading and sharing of advice, tips, and instructions for relocation and reconnection with the landscape, exploring the shift from camping to permanent residence.

Sunday, May 17, 2015
Lecture by artist Kim Stringfellow and closing reception, 2:00 pm.

Programming at High Desert Test Sites in Wonder Valley

Saturday-Sunday, May 23-24, 2015
Opening reception, potluck, and overnight campout at the Iron Age Road Parcel, beginning at 6:00 pm, and guided tour at 7:00 pm.

Sleep under the stars in the “Schindler House,” transposed to a remote destination in the Mojave Desert community of Wonder Valley.

Saturday, June 20, 2015
A conversation about the concept of transposing the frontier, 7:30 pm, at the Palms Restaurant and Saloon, 83131 Amboy Rd, Twentynine Palms, CA 92277. 

Looking at both proximity and distance from the center of development within the sprawling Los Angeles landscape at various points in time, the program began with the West Hollywood of the 1920s, and followed a horizontal line eastward to El Monte of the 1950s and Wonder Valley of the 2000s. These three locations were brought together as places where radical ideas were afforded space to flourish, and as destinations for those seeking to be far enough away yet still close to the city of Los Angeles.

All programs were free and open to the public.


A Vast Furniture was organized by Anthony Carfello, Adam Peña, and Aurora Tang.

*Bernard Judge as quoted in Anthony Denzer’s Gregory Ain: The Modern Home as Social Commentary (Rizzoli, 2008).