A fixture of Bay Area art for decades, David Ireland lived the life he preached, turning his house at 500 Capp Street into a living sculpture. Ideas of impermanence, authorship, and “what is art” all come together in one living experiment.
His house was one of the first projects that I studied while at CCA. I was excited by the originality and unconventionality: beds and walls that move, torches as lamps, decay as art/decoration. I love that Ireland shellacked all the walls, thereby preserving the decay. Ironically, the house has now been painstakingly restored to its original state of decay (along with foundation and public access code requirements) and will reopen to the public this month. The 500 Capp Street Foundation
is dedicated to providing access to the artist’s work, related study and public programming. It’s worth checking out.
A signature of David Ireland’s art is his dumbballs, formed by passing a lump of concrete from hand to hand (over a period of hours) until a sphere sets up and hardens. The artwork required time and repetition, with theory over-taking notions of craft and artist’s decision-making. Chance and physical characteristic become the output of the creative process, where the performance that engages the body as much as the mind. Isn’t this connection (body/mind meld) the true characteristic of what we strive for in architecture?
David Bjørngaard, January 2016