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[Homes]: Living In An Art Exhibition

Multi-hyphenate artist Redic can’t stop creating.
Jul 11, 2019 | 10:40 Thu
Homes: Homes is where we peek behind the doors of neighbors, looking for insight into how other people are living their lives and building a home in this massive city.
The art has taken over. Redic has completely transformed not just his own apartment in an old lane house off Shaanxi Nan Lu, but the stairwell, the common areas, and even the facade with his painting and sculptures. The American painter-musician-poet-fashion-designer, who moved here in 2010, reassembles and paints over reclaimed artifacts he finds around the city: old doors, windows, mannequins, and chairs. He turns them into sculptures and mixed media assemblages; he calls them his ‘Shanghai Chapters’ and they’ve since grown to fill every empty space in his house, turning it into a colorful and surrealist landscape.

The Art Takes Over

You should be careful with what you wish for; I always wanted to live in a space that continuously inspires me to create. Little did I know that I would literally live by these words. I’ve been living in this house for the last seven years, and, not wanting to have additional studio expenses, I decided to work from here also. This is what working from home turned into: a temporary art museum. I have close to 170 art pieces here.

This apartment was much more livable before my artwork took over. I’m left with a bed and my refrigerator, which is behind door number 10, from my door series. Everything else is artworks. My furniture morphed into art: my reading chair became another encrusted throne; my desk chair got integrated into door number 16. My closet had to become an installation piece, otherwise, the feng shui would be off. It now declares:

No more closets!
No more closets of guilty pleasures
Shameful emotions
Or underhanded and hidden agendas
Live out in the open
And let the chips fall where they may

My favorite spot in the house used to be at the center of the second room, where I could look through all open windows and be surrounded by trees. I felt like a kid in a big tree house. Unsurprisingly, there is a large installation piece from my dreamcatcher series there now. The bed area with my small desk is where I spend most of my time when I am at home; they still serve their purposes. For now.

Most of the art pieces were made in this house. As the new ones are completed, I have to display them in a thoughtful way. It’s like Tetris. But I still need to move around here so there are these circular paths to follow. I had to learn not to be wasteful with space; even though the house is full of objects, I live in a very minimal way.”

The Building, The Neighbors and The Landlord

At first, I only lived in one room but when my next door neighbor moved out, I contacted my landlord and took over her room. I broke through the wall and connected the two rooms. Then designed the interiors with paintings on the walls.

The details of this building are fascinating, so I also did some painting in the common areas and in the stairwell. Later I rationalized: If my neighbors can have all their stuff in the common areas, I can too, so my art began to spread into those areas as well. And the neighbors like it.

The kids especially, they like to ask questions about the art. There is only this one old lady that I often have territory negotiations with. If there is a new empty space, we are in a war to claim it.

My landlady knows what the house looks like now. I know I will never get back my security deposit. I just think of it as a satisfaction fee.”

The Neighborhood

This part of downtown is the best of all worlds. There’s Chinese from all over China and us, the foreigners, from all over the world. We’re all here in a perfect mix of people. As an artist who wants to impact as many people as I can, this international environment is a fantastic incubator. It makes me think in a global way.

Everybody knows me here; I work with craftsmen from the area: carpenters, glass cutters and so on. I love that they understand my requests are crazy and unorthodox — but they look me in the eye and respect my work.

Walking in the city is an opportunity to notice things and pay more attention to life. Very often it inspires me to write music or poetry. Or it’s when I find the cultural artifacts for my art. It’s my primary mode of transportation. And I walk everywhere here: I buy my favorite baozi just around the corner, on Jiashan Lu; I have my weekly performances at Shake, a live music venue on Maoming Lu; I like to grab drinks at Funkadeli, on Fumin Lu; and I meditate at the gardens of the InterContinental Hotel, on Ruijin Lu. I am not sure If they are open to the public, but since I’ve never been thrown out, I’m guessing they are”

The Art Tours

Before the art took over, I hosted a variety of happenings and poetry events here. Art is a way of bringing people together. A few years back, a friend of mine told me: ‘Redic, your exhibition is going to happen, but your house is already a museum. You need to open your doors now.’ So I also started to organize tours of the house.

After giving hundreds of these tours, I learned a lot about my art through the lens of other people. Before, I was so focused on getting my art out of the house, that I didn’t realize that what I had done was already inspiring to people.

Life in a Living Exhibition

The fact is that I’ve suspended normal living from my life. I only have that when I am on holiday, and I admit, it’s nice. But after a while, I start missing my home and my art. I also noticed that when I move some of the art from the common areas to have exhibitions, my neighbors miss them. We have all become accustomed, or conditioned, to it. This was not my vision from the start, but I am thankful that it happened.

This house is a reflection of my vision for the Shanghai Chapters exhibition. What you see here is the result of dedication and sacrifice towards a bigger goal… as well as the compromise and understanding of some very gracious neighbors.

See more of Redic’s creations on his personal Instagram (the_artistry_of_redic).

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