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Seaport art installation plays on home, human connection

Celina Colby
Celina Colby is an arts and travel reporter with a fondness for Russian novels.... VIEW BIO
Seaport art installation plays on home, human connection
“Mi Casa, Your Casa 2.0” by Esrawe + Cadena. PHOTO: CELINA COLBY

Home has taken on a new meaning during the pandemic, providing safe havens for residents and an opportunity to reexamine the small joys of quiet days inside. Artists Hector Esrawe and Ignacio Cadena play on the theme of home and the current yearning for human connection in their new Seaport art installation, “Mi Casa, Your Casa 2.0.”

Presented in collaboration with Creos and Serge Maheu, the exhibition comprises 16 red metal frame houses in rows in the heart of the Seaport district, each one with a swing inside it. The piece is inspired by the bustling mercados (street markets) of Latin America, where human connection and socializing happened daily before the pandemic. “Mi Casa, Your Casa 2.0” is meant to reignite a similar feeling of connectivity in a safe, socially distanced manner, with each participant in the installation in their own casa.

16 metal frame houses occupy downtown Seaport in Esrawe + Cadena’s “Mi Casa, Your Casa 2.0” art installation. PHOTO: CELINA COLBY

16 metal frame houses occupy downtown Seaport in Esrawe + Cadena’s “Mi Casa, Your Casa 2.0” art installation. PHOTO: CELINA COLBY

“Shaping integrated communities is a major task that needs to be tackled with imagination,” say Esrawe and Cadena in a statement about the piece, which is meant to convey activation. “We create that which enables us to inhabit, to play, to make music together, to observe ourselves and each other, to learn, to celebrate; to live and experience the world in unique, whole and valuable new ways.”

When a casa is empty, a white glow emanates from it, welcoming visitors and creating an illuminating effect in the evening hours. When the casa and swing are being used, the glow grows stronger to indicate that someone is “home.” The Seaport exhibition is an adaptation of earlier installations by the artistic pair in Mexico City and Atlanta, Georgia. The project has been exhibited in various renditions since 2014. In those pre-pandemic iterations, the houses contained hammocks and artmaking materials to encourage a full embodiment and enjoyment of the physical public space.

These artworks aren’t just for fun, games and Instagram photos. In 2017, the installation was adapted to provide temporary shelter for families displaced during an earthquake in Mexico. Boston Seaport will donate $1 to Habitat for Humanity for every photo of the installation that’s posted on social media tagging @seaportbos in the caption. The donations will go toward helping local families create and improve on their homes in a time when that domestic sanctuary is so crucial.

“’Mi Casa, Your Casa’ is a strong and subtle symbol in a geometric shape that will allow us to build a unique iconic piece, one that creates a continuous dialogue with audiences and capable of continuous changes and mutations,” say Esrawe and Cadena. “A living canvas.”