From the rustic lodgings novelist Henry David Thoreau described in his 1854 book Walden to the cult website Cabin Porn, the cabin has long been a feature of popular culture.
A new exhibition at the Vancouver Art Gallery is tracing the cabin’s architectural and cultural history in North America, spanning early designs in the 17th century to some of its more recent incarnations.
The exhibition has been conceived as a follow up to the gallery’s 2013 exhibition that looked at the cultural impact of the hotel, and has been brought to life by guest curator Jennifer M. Volland.
Volland has based it around three themes. Shelter introduces the cabin’s story as a practical architectural solution during the period of westward expansion in North America; Utopia examines its function as a means of escaping the conventions of normal society; and Porn looks at its emergence into mainstream popular culture.
The centrepiece of the show is a collection of 17 architectural models, which are displayed in chronological order to show the changing influences and practices in cabin design.
Other exhibits include plans, photos, historical documents, literature and ephemera, with works by architects such as BIG and Frank Lloyd Wright both on display.
Visitors can also see two full-scale installations by American artist and filmmaker James Benning and a full-sized cabin by Canadian artist Liz Magor.
“I think the cabin harkens back to a simpler existence, one where we can be closer to nature, one where we can turn inward, and one where we can escape the noise of modern life,” says Volland. “I hope [visitors] will better understand the layered and complex history of the cabin, not just the romantic image of what we see in lifestyle magazines and books.”
Cabin Fever is on display at Vancouver Art Gallery until September 30 2018. More info here