Arthur Jules

Following on from Where the Fire Stands, Three Steps and the Mist also plays with the animation of the domestic and its de/construction. But this time, smoke doesn't emerge from the chimney as expected–it escapes from a crack in the side of one of the three walls that make up the piece. This subversion of expectation is the first sign that despite the themes of domesticity the piece evokes, there are also notes of uncertainty. The chimney itself remains functionless, perhaps ominously so. Look down it and nothing can be seen but dense blackness. What is its purpose now?


The smoke hazes our view: as with all domestic settings, something stays opaque, unclear to outsiders. This is reflected too in the wax house, where we can only make out blurry outlines of furniture. The light may be on, but we will never truly be able to see inside the home. And the house’s set of stairs, like the chimney, is lacking in purpose: reaching up to the wax perimeter, they can lead only to empty air.


The three low wall structures are designed to match the inside of Ellipsis gallery, both in their facade and their crumbling state. This crumbling state extends far outside the building to the streets of Amsterdam itself, where the ongoing housing crises means high rents are demanded for scarce, badly maintained housing. Affordable housing opportunities disintegrate as quickly as wax melts.


The piece uses contradiction, then, as it is both animated by the smoke, and frozen by the wax. It is realist in its construction of the walls, yet ambiguous stairs and chimneys make it illogical. You can best see the walls in the light, but the wax house is best observed when only the light inside the house is on. And as usual, it is the contradictions which invite reflection.


Oriana Hine