The Dream House

Those in search of an access point into a New York of another era will find one three floors up, in an apartment building on Church Street in Manhattan, in the current incantation of The Dream House; an audio/visual installation originally conceived in 1969 by composer La Monte Young and artist Marian Zazeela.

Once inside, the feel is somewhere between a squat, a temple, and a nightclub in permanent stasis—one second of euphoria held out for eternity.

After being asked to remove their shoes, visitors traipse across what is now a slightly dingy expanse of white carpet, into a set of two rooms bathed in pink and purple light and heavy drones, in a thick fog of incense smoke. In the main room, an unidentifiable person in a black hooded sweatshirt cinched tightly around their face goes through what seems like a regularly occurring routine, pressing repeatedly into a deep child’s pose in a sort of personal ritual, before recovering against a wall with a pillow held to their chest. Moving through the premises between four large stacks of speakers, the waves of Young’s drones seem to dance a mechanized, repetitive waltz overhead.

Though not particularly relaxing, some seem addicted to the experience. One young man could be overheard telling a group of college girls, “Everyone has their threshold, and that’s okay. I personally spend about five hours a week in here.” But perhaps the most powerful experience offered by The Dream House comes when viewing the city below through the apartment’s own rose-tinted glasses: front windows, covered in purple lighting gels. For a moment, it feels almost possible to experience two eras of this great city at once. While you may never return, you’ll most likely leave feeling happy that such a place still exists, and even happier not to live in the apartment below. JR

This review is included in TTA10. Click here for more information about the issue.

Continue shopping
Your Order

You have no items in your cart