Exploring ‘Home’ with Ian Strange

By Emma Regolini

August, 7th 2020

Work by Ian Strange

The award-wining work of multidisciplinary artist Ian Strange is much deeper than painting warning signals on homes and setting them ablaze.  His practice explores architecture, space and the idea of ‘home’.

Originally from Perth, Western Australia, Strange first trained in film and photography before relocation to Sydney and then onto New York where the trajectory of his career began moving at a faster pace.

Strange is most renowned for his on-going series of suburban architectural intervention and documentation of subverting the archetypal domestic home and the ideas we attach to it.

Each home that he has worked on is scheduled to be demolished in the following days and weeks, making the process and documentation of his practice imperative.

In his 2018 TedTalk, ‘Home is where the Art is,’ Strange explains the idea of ‘home’ as an idea of physical and metaphorical security and familiarity.  A place of nostalgia and history

Strange references his early creative endeavours in the street art scene as work that has set the tone for what he does today.

As each project informs the next, Strange continues to explore people’s relationship to home across the world from USA to Australia, Poland, Japan and New Zealand.

Strange also explores the identity linked to our homes, individually, culturally, temporarily and permanently. The final documentary film and imagery from his projects can be harsh and degrading, adding to the importance we place on these physical spaces.

Through his site-specific works, Strange prioritises the communities, their history and their individual stories, which informs the work. He explores the unique relationship and concept of ‘home’ in each geographical location i.e. socio-economically abandoned mining towns or earthquake-affected cities.

Ian Strange’s 2017 body of work Island (2015-2017), saw him reconfigure the idea of home as a desert island, both a place of solace and one of entrapment, by setting alight (and documenting) three houses in Ohio with text: ‘SOS’, ‘RUN’ and ‘HELP’.

Strange explains the documentation process, “The homes are prepared and restored [where needed], the gardens are dressed, painted and then photographed at dawn and dusk. The documentation is where the work finds it’s final form”. The homes are elevated and celebrated in a way before they are demolished.

Outside of the art-world sphere, Strange is also a collaborator of Virgil Abloh of Off-White, synonymous with the world of luxury street-wear and culture. Strange was commissioned to design sculptures for the Melbourne, Sydney and New York retail spaces.

From painting dystopian warning signs to ‘erasing’ homes (painting them completely black) to setting them ablaze or illuminating them from the inside out, Ian Strange is a formidable force in the contemporary art and street art world.