Cabin Fever explores history of the cabin as an architectural form and cultural construct through installations, models, video, photography, fashion and more.
It’s summer, which means adventure—island hopping, forest hikes, lakeside retreats, cabin getaways—is around every corner. Just as the Like crew started planning weekend trips close to home and further afield, a new exhibition titled Cabin Fever opened at the Vancouver Art Gallery, giving us plenty of wanderlust and a fair share of cabin envy. We popped in at the VAG on a rainy afternoon to check out the first-ever exhibition investigating the cabin’s architectural typology and influence on contemporary culture.
The exhibition takes over the entire second level of the VAG, making good use of tall ceilings and open spaces to showcase everything from renderings, artworks and commercial products as well as architectural models, full-scale interventions, and of course essential fashions, gear and backpacks by the likes of Filson, Herschel and Sitka for the ultimate cabin gathering (read: Instagram Story).
Back in 1854, Henry David Thoreau built himself a little cabin on the shores of Walden Pond and put his musings to paper. Were he alive today and been into technology, social media, and selfies, he probably would be the ultimate cabin hipster. Instead, he wrote the transcendentalist wrote about his experience living the simple life surrounded by nature in his book Walden. A copy of the book as well as a model of his cabin are on view in the Utopia section of the exhibit, which examines the cabin as the ideal locale to practice introspection.
Cabin Fever explores the evolution of the cabin, from rustic sanctuary to minimalist homestead popularized by coffee table books Rock the Shack and Hide and Seek, and websites such as Cabin Porn through three key themes “Shelter” introduces the cabin as a practical solution to patterns of westward expansion and emergency relief. “Utopia” looks at the cabin as a locale in which to escape the conventions of society. And “Porn,” which positions the cabin as an idea fully integrated into popular culture—complete with a hashtag, of course. Hello, #cabinporn!
The centerpiece of this exhibition is a collection of 17 architectural models installed in chronological order showcasing the cultural influences that have informed cabin design in North America since the 17th century. In addition, two full-scale installations by American artist and filmmaker James Benning and a full-size cabin by Canadian artist Liz Magor are mounted in the Gallery space.
Cabin Fever includes works by Ant Farm, Walker Evans, Filson, Herschel Supply Co., Lloyd House, Ken Isaacs, A.Y. Jackson, Dorothea Lange, John Lautner, Patkau Architects, Pendleton, Eero Saarinen, Rudolph Schindler, Scott & Scott Architects, Jack Shadbolt, Sitka, Henry David Thoreau, UUfie, and Frank Lloyd Wright among many others.
Cabin Fever is on view June 9 to September 30, 2018 at the Vancouver Art Gallery.