Corporeal Housing by Dennis Burke

Corporeal Housing

by Dennis Burke

Corporeal Housing is a division of my thesis project that investigates the impact the human body has on housing. While researching for my upcoming thesis project and exhibition, I came across a statement by Winston Churchill; we shape our buildings and then our buildings shape us. With this I began asking myself how this relationship could be depicted and/or expressed.

Provoked by the impossibility of making something intangible, tangible; I decided that rendering the experience wasn’t going to be enough. The challenge was then to recreate the experience, or at the very least, give the impression of the experience. Concluding that the act of raising awareness to the body’s impact on the house-specifically the shape, size, and form-was the goal of the project. The prime material used in casting the small and large houses is wax. Wax is often associated with the human body and flesh, and is highly susceptible to human interaction. When a wax object is handled, it is transformed through the physical process of heat and friction. The body leaves its mark on the wax house and vise versa.

Wanting to further articulate this experience, I decided on alternative materials for casting that are the inverse of malleable. Concrete for instance, is a more solid and impenetrable substance. Our bodily affects upon its shape, size, and form, are not readily apparent to the observer. Unlike wax, concrete demonstrates the extent of our influence on structures. (Structures that are not only tangible, but abstract. Such as the institution, culture, and society.) The individual instantly alters the wax house through interaction, but it takes many bodies to modify that which has been built to last.


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Dennis Michael Burke is a Chicago based interdisciplinary artist, traditionally trained in methods of fine art and modern aesthetics. His body of work is prolific in size, material, and methods; suggestive of a strong foundation in both practice and history. There is always reference to traditional values and techniques. Employing the process of traditional art making (like drawing, painting, and sculpting), as the object of consideration. Considering the act of creation as important, if not more, than the image or three dimensional object that is the outcome of artistic methodology. This may be partly due to the fact that Dennis is a construction worker by day. Along with being proficient in a range of artistic mediums and approaches, Dennis is a skilled laborer and carpenter. He has worked on a number of building projects, small and large, residential and commercial, that inform his art practice and value structure. One could say that Dennis has both a nostalgia for labor and a fetishization for the object.

To learn more about the artist, click here