Vancouver Art Gallery opens Cabin Fever exhibit, looks at history of the cabin as an architectural form and cultural construct explored through installations, models, video, photography and more

The Vancouver Art Gallery is pleased to present Cabin Fever, a new exhibition tracing the history of the North American cabin as an architectural form and a cultural construct, on view June 9 to September 30, 2018. Assembling renderings, artworks and commercial products as well as architectural models, plans and full-scale interventions, Cabin Fever surveys this iconic yet humble lodging’s utility, adulation and prevalence in Canada and the US.

From rustic sanctuary of the kind Henry David Thoreau wrote about in his book Walden (1854), to minimalist homesteads popularized by coffee table books Rock the Shack and Hide and Seek, and websites such as Cabin Porn, the cabin and its connotations have evolved over centuries. Cabin Fever explores this evolution, examining the cabin as “Shelter,” as escapist’s sanctuary for introspection or “Utopia,” and as “Porn”—in this case, fetishized consumption of an idealized past. In recent times, the cabin has become a panacea to the modern condition, both an obvious societal response to an over-stimulated world and a puzzling outlet for a hyper-connected culture.

Spanning the second floor of the Gallery, Cabin Fever features architectural models, drawings and plans, photography, historical documents, literature, video and ephemera. As the centerpiece of this exhibition, a collection of seventeen architectural models installed in chronological order showcase the cultural influences that have informed cabin design in North America since the seventeenth century. In addition, two full-scale installations by American artist and filmmaker James Benning and a full-size cabin by Canadian artist Liz Magor will be mounted in the Gallery space.

Cabin Fever is conceived as part of the Gallery’s ongoing commitment to the presentation of visual culture in its myriad forms. A follow up to the Gallery exhibition Grand Hotel: Redesigning Modern Life (2013), which looked at the cultural impact of the hotel, Cabin Fever is the first-ever exhibition investigating the cabin’s architectural typology and influence on contemporary culture. The idea for this exhibition originated with independent curator and writer Jennifer M. Volland, who we are thrilled to work with again. The Gallery hopes to capture the imagination of visitors as they become reacquainted with the cabin and its storied history. — Kathleen S. Bartels, Director of the Vancouver Art Gallery.

This exhibition is organized by the Vancouver Art Gallery and curated by Jennifer M. Volland, Guest Curator, Bruce Grenville, Senior Curator and Stephanie Rebick, Associate Curator.

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