House of Oscar Wilde project shown at Trinity

The installation replicates Trinity alumnus Wilde’s London home

The Trinity Oscar Wilde Centre presented a multimedia installation, “House of Oscar Wilde (as imagined by Arthur Craven)”, about the famed Irish poet and playwright Oscar Wilde this week.

The installation replicated Wilde’s house in London as described by writer Arthur Craven, Wilde’s nephew-in-law. Published in 1917 in the fourth issue of a New York avant-garde magazine called “The Soil”, the writings comprised of pieces on Wilde and his London home.

Located in House 21 on Westland Row, the installation occupies the space where Wilde himself was born. In addition to the exhibition, live performances are to take place on September 4 and 5, with the installation finishing on yesterday with a film and panel discussion.

Craven, a Swiss boxer and poet, drew inspiration from his uncle-in-law Wilde despite never meeting him. Craven is seen as an iconic figure in the avant-garde European art movement known as the Dada movement. He was last seen off the coast Salina Cruz, Mexico on a sailboat and is suspected to have drowned in 1918.

The House of Oscar Wilde installation was based on precise descriptions and two sketches detailing the entire layout and floor plan for every item in the house, which Craven gathered from testimonials by his parents. Although the text was a work of fiction, many critics have found it to be of great importance in understanding Wilde due to an otherwise lack of documents depicting the house.

The installation is a collaborative project from across the world including craftswomen in Mexico, an artist from Colombia, a translator from the US, a writer from the Netherlands, and an Irish actress. The project is curated by Vladimir Dotsenko, Assistant Professor of Pure and Applied Mathematics in Trinity.

Speaking to Trinity News, Dotsenko explained that Craven’s writings, “create something from nothing, being themselves an elaborate description of the space the author never visited and only imagined from his parents’ stories”.

The unnamed artist that conceived this exhibition is known for his anonymous ephemeral art events on a quest to explore the phenomenon of writer’s block. Other locations where his work has been displayed are Barcelona, Naples, Tel Aviv, Mexico City and Amsterdam.

Dotsenko continued: “The audience is invited to the unique location where Oscar Wilde was born to witness the impact that written word can have on reality, one century after being written.”

“The creator of ‘House of Oscar Wilde (as imagined by Arthur Cravan)’ used that description to build an installation shown at Trinity Oscar Wilde Centre: an imagined version of imagined space, yet readily inhabitable. Now this space has a life of its own,” says Dotsenko.

Shauna Bannon Ward

Shauna Barron Ward is a staff writer at Trinity News. She is a Junior Sophister Law student.