Open Curtain – House Dahinden 2020

A project by the artist Clare Goodwin in collaboration with the architect and photographer Marco Bakker and the designer Sina Buxtorf and works from the art-museum’s collection of the Kunstmuseum Olten in an architect’s Justus Dahinden’s house.

Justus Dahinden (born Zürich, 1925) built many mega structures throughout his professional career. He studied architecture at ETH Zürich and, in 1955, set up his own architecture office in Zürich. The office still runs in Witikon opposite a house he built some years later in 1971. A fortress in which he lived until 2017 with a brutalist’ rawness staging a free view on the Gothard mountains. Dahinden has significantly influenced the field of architecture with his ideas like for example the elaborate ‘Tent house’ on the Rigi, the enormous ‘Schwabylon’ at Munich, the light-footed ‘TRIGON’ village in Zurich, or the elegant Parish-Church ‘Saint Mary’s’ crowning in Zurich Witikon. For him, architecture is as much a visual language as a functional process.
The architect has created buildings all over the world: from residential housing to holiday villages, hotels and churches. It is Dahinden’s private home, however, that is central to Open Curtain – a site-specific project initiated by Zürich-based artist Clare Goodwin, in collaboration with the building’s current custodians, Marco Bakker and Dorothee Messmer, director of Kunstmuseum Olten.
Goodwin, known primarily for her hard-edged abstract paintings on canvas and site-specific wall works, is influenced by and borrows from many other disciplines and sources. Recently, this has involved using old interior design magazines, painting simple black forms derived from her painting practise– shards, organic blobs and curvilinear swipes – directly onto them. Some have been applied using a masked edge, while others hand applied, essentially adding a layer, a partial curtain of motifs, between viewer and image.

After visiting Dahinden’s house and holding a book launch there last year, Goodwin instantly fell in love with both its 1970’s interior, all shag-pile carpet and curved stucco walls, and the angular austerity of the external garden space with its sunken pool. The house has never been changed or modernised, only maintained. The shell, furniture and fixtures are the same today as when it was built. For Goodwin, the house could be straight out of one of the retro interior-design books she collects; the living embodiment of design sensibilities one is more used to seeing idealised in print. It immediately made sense to use source images of the property and re-stage them within the site.
As a project, Open Curtain sheds light on past utopian ideas around ideal living and the house as a design museum. And to also to simply pay homage to the building as muse, revel in its heavily stylised and meticulously realised domestic suite of oranges, creams and browns, the design sensibilities of which possibly carry more cache today than they did when it was built.
Bakker has photographed the house, while Goodwin has printed out these images and worked directly on them (they are available as a limited edition). To add yet another layer to the project, Sina Buxtorf has loaned two handmade quilts for the beds and with the support of Messmer, Kunst Museum Olten offered to loan a selection of works, either made in the early 1970s or created by artists deemed at their peak during this period, from the collection. All works selected, including Goodwins images hang in, or have been placed around the house as if owned by the occupants.