Few artists ask visitors to contribute to their work, but Los Angeles-based artist Fritz Haeg thrives off the idea. His complex project, entitled Domestic Integrities Part A03, beckons visitors to become a part of an artistic undertaking -- the continued production of a traveling rug.
Starting today, the Hammer Museum will host the artist's unique undertaking. The museum encourages anyone interested to drop off any materials they don't want anymore, like clothing and towels. For four days, Haeg will expand the rug with the help of crochet-savvy visitors and an assistant. Visitors are also encouraged to sit on the rug and take part of a unique, communal gathering.
"It's a project that can take on a lot of different forms depending on who's involved and how people wanna participate and just the nature of the rug as an object. It's very inviting," says Haeg. "When it's in a cold gallery space, it's really hard not to get on it and sit down and relax. It's a very inviting surface to be on and there's something about that act of sitting on that floor that I find really compelling. It's the first act of making yourself at home, in a way. There'll be all this activity going on making the rug but the just the presence of the rug will invite a lot of other kinds of activity."
The middle of the rug will feature pedestals with items for participants to eat and drink. Haeg will pluck some of the items straight from his garden and asked other friends to contribute as well.
Similar projects took place in Europe, as a rug traveled everywhere from London to Vienna. The one that will soon arrive at the Hammer originated in Mildred's Lane in Pennsylvania in conjunction with a MOMA Studios program. After leaving the Hammer this particular rug will head to the Walker Art Center and other locations. Every time the rug travels, it sparks a different variation of the same basic project.
"At MOMA I wasn't able to be there at all during the run of that show so I was depending heavily on people that were there helping out and working at it in different ways," says Haeg. "At the Hammer, I'll be there the whole time pretty much which will make a different experience. A lot of the focus at the Hammer will be on production, making of the rug and so I'm looking forward to it."
Haeg grew up in Minneapolis and studied architecture, a discipline that influences some of his work, such as his installation at the Whitney Biennial in 2008. There, he created homes for 12 kinds of animals that used to live in the now-urbanized area where the Whitney Museum stands, even creating a nest for the bald eagle at the museum's entryway.
The rug is part of his "Domestic Integrities" series, which belongs to a trilogy that includes two other projects -- called "Animal Estates," an effort to reverse the adverse effects of the city on animals' homes (which included the Whitney project), and "Edible Estates," an attempt to invigorate cityscapes with more gardens to grow food. The basis of "Domestic Integrities" lies in exploring how humans "make themselves at home." Haeg sees the projects as a natural result of his artistic journey.
"My work evolved very slowly over time and it would've been impossible to anticipate making this kind of work even just a few years ago," says Heag. "I don't have a long-term organized plan about where it's headed."
As much as he invites active interaction, Haeg does not want to pin down an exact experience for a casual passersby to take away. Each person ultimately takes away something different from the four-day event and the rug itself.
"I'm not really in control of that," says Haeg. "I do think it'll invite people to slow down and pay attention and to have a very kind of sensual, practical experience with something -- with the making of the rug, sitting on the rug and people that are around them."
Domestic Integrities Part A03 starts today and will take place Thursday and Friday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m; Hammer Museum, 10899 Wilshire Blvd, Westwd.