Hacking IKEA is a pastime that helps college students and academics furnish their apartments in style, but artist Jeff Carter — also the associate professor in the department of Art Media and Design at DePaul’s College of Liberal Arts and Social Science — has taken it to another level. He has modified IKEA products and used them to create sculptures of seven Walter Gropius-designed buildings that made up the now-demolished Michael Reese Hospital, a modernist holdout on Chicago's south side.
Images courtesy of Jeff Carter
Carter's Linear Accelerator is a series of architectural models based on the Gropius buildings that brings together bits of shelves, drawers, lights, and other IKEA parts along with electric motors and light fixtures. There are also DVD players, speakers, and other multimedia components, and one of the pieces contains a sound composition by artist Annie Goh.
The odd collages feature quotidian domestic objects put in new contexts, like drawers as windows or baskets as curtain walls. The approximations also use these objects in creative ways, making the familiar unfamiliar. They are modified enough to make the models functional, but their former uses remain as a reminder that this is a conceptual endeavor.
By using the formal vocabulary of Bauhaus architecture with the consumer language of IKEA and the architectural history of Chicago, Carter presents uncanny objects with histories that are not their own, but of another time and place.