April 12, 2007

Kohoutek: The Dollhouse Of The Future, By Ant Farm


One of the first of [way too] many [I'm sure] warnings I started giving the kid, even before her vision focused more than 3 feet away, was, "Plastic bags, not a toy."

Which is funny, because in the late 60's and 70's, the San Francisco hippie art and architecture collective known as Ant Farm were creating buildings out of giant inflatable plastic bags. Their 1969 work, 50x50' Pillow [above] for the Whole Earth Catalog led to the commission to build the medical tent--or as Ant Farmer Chip Lord called it, "the Bad Trip Pavilion"--at Altamont.

Ant Farm also created uncannily prescient work about things like the all-consuming, TV-driven, pop media culture and the American fetishization of cars. [They're the ones who buried that row of Cadillacs nosefirst in the Texas desert.]


Anyway, for a 1973 exhibition at the Contemporary Arts Museum in Houston, they installed iconic cars from various decades--including, somehow, the Lunar Rover--and projected a live NASA video feed from SkyLab onto the wall of the swanky, conversation pit-equipped Living Room of the Present.

The Future, meanwhile, was represented by Kohoutek: The Dollhouse of The Future. Kohoutek was the assuredly spectacular, once-in-75,000-years comet that appeared in 1973--and that totally did not live up to the media hype.

The Dollhouse of the Future was all biomorphic, undulating shapes just primed for lounging. The Future was looking, in fact, a lot like the past, but with one key difference: from the photos, at least, it seems like all the nude hippies hanging out in Ant Farm's place were dudes. But soon, in the glorious Kohoutek Future, the architects hoped, there'd be some pneumatic nude Barbies lounging around, too.

Ant Farm: 1968-1978 did the museum circuit in 2004 [icaphila.org]
The exhibition catalogue is a criminally low $5 on abebooks [abebooks]

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