Photoinstallation 2011. Title: Øjeblikkets Rum. Inkjet print 183cm x 150cm, blankets. Shown at Bispegården i Kalundborg 12.3-24.4.2011
Abandoned Houses is a series of photographs by Elin Kromann of the well-known prefabricated wooden houses in the Greenlandic landscape. Visiting one of the smaller towns of Greenland, one's first impression is of these houses lying as colourful Lego bricks in the deserted grey landscape. Kromann has taken the pictures during a stay in northern Greenland, where many of the dwellings have been abandoned in recent years. On several of the houses, veneer sheets have been nailed before the windows; they are completely without openings and stand as functionless forms. The paint is peeling; the woodwork has been exposed to wind and weather. Some of the veneer sheets that cover the windows are also discoloured, the houses have been empty for long; some are brand new.
The barricaded windows attract the eye and remind one of the openings they hide. The window is the most social aspect of the house, communication between inside and outside flow through it in both directions. Gaston Bachelard wrote in his book The Poetics of Space about the image in poetry of the lamp that watches in the window. The light, which not only lets see, but also sees. One can imagine how, in the northern Greenlandic winter night, the illuminated windows not only make the town visible, but also greet the traveller. The window is an image of the house's dialectic between inside and outside, between isolation and safety, hospitality and vulnerability.
Kromann refers to this dialectic by emphasising exactly the fact that the boarded up windows point to the abandoned home's position between presence and absence. A house is created for human presence, for being a home and thereby a space for sociality, protection, life. The abandoned home is a house, which has lost its inner function; it is reduced to its materiality, its outer aspect. In their pure materiality, the buildings stand as sculptural objects. They no longer communicate between inside and outside, but qua their potential as homes, they do make us ask about the inside, which we cannot access: are they empty, or have the owners left furniture behind? Who lived there and where are they now? In this way, they simultaneously point outwards into the world, so to speak, because the abandoned home is also a sign of departure. It traces a connection to the human presence, which once was there, but now is elsewhere. Kromann calls this an "aesthetic of hope".
Kromann has exhibited the photographs together with piles of folded woollen blankets in various colours and patterns. The warmth of the blankets and their associations to intimacy and home, remind us, that the boarded up windows mean that in another place, a lamp is put in a window.
Text by Eva May
Shown at Bispegården, Kalundborg, Denmark.