House Arrest

Pernille Spence (Artist), Zoe Irvine (Artist)

Research output: Other contribution


House Arrest is a research project re-evaluating and re-contextualising domestic politics within artistic practice. Initially inspired by Mierle Laderman Ukeles’s ‘Maintenance Art Manifesto’ (1969) and her related seminal ‘cleaning action’ performances, Spence (and collaborator Zoë Irvine) expand this critique to the art institution, drawing on experiences from their own research areas, articulating these critically within the domestic sphere.

Exploring the relationship between art and the domestic, the ‘table’ became the space where this project was tested and played out. The endless, prosaic activities whose character is repetition can be chaotic, messy, relentless, and actions happen unnoticed. Often the aim is to keep control over the domestic space, in House Arrest: Domestic Actions attention is brought to simple acts through the camera lens, by focusing on a series of small-scale, resonant actions using ordinary and familiar items such as eggs, cream and teacups, resulting in a sonorous choreography to camera where actions allow for subtle transgressions. Slight contraventions of the norms of domestic behaviour aim to bring heightened consideration to common household acts. Here the disorder is allowed.

The installation comprises three sets of two screens. Each set of screens has frame-accurate syncing, allowing a visual dialogue between the movement across screens. The sound circulates around the exhibition space creating a powerful, sonorous interplay, at times deeply visceral, at other times gentle, and on occasion unbearable.

The first fully completed installation version of House Arrest was exhibited at Alchemy Film and Moving Image Festival, Hawick (March 2017), touring to national and international including Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh (March 2018), Rome Media Art Festival (May 2018) and Budapest Art Week at Parthenón-fríz Terem, Budapest (April 2019).
Original languageEnglish
TypeMulti Component Output
PublisherUniversity of Dundee
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Artist's film


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