Victoria Durnak

The Family Architect

«Family is the best investment we can ever make»
– Cognition Builders

Please join us for the exhibition opening on the 16th of May, 7 PM.

Family architects are «experts in the human condition» available for hire through the American firm Cognition Builders. By placing an architect in the home, as well as allowing a further team of architects to observe through video- and audio surveillance, the company offers to correct unwanted behavior in children as well as relational issues within the nuclear family. Family architects give families instructions and feedback tailored to their particular challenges – emotional, intellectual or social.

In March this year, Victoria Durnak took on the role of family architect for a Norwegian family. She installed cameras in common areas and observed through her laptop at scheduled intervals. The intervention is documented in the video The Family Architect (2019). The twelve-year-old girl from the family that Durnak assisted, has inspired much of the work in the show. Short texts displayed on iPhone cases and glass plates, are based on the girl’s thoughts on what electronic surveillance can and cannot register. Durnak has also made an immersive sound piece based on the corrective comments that the architects deliver to the families that they assist.

The methodology employed by family architects results in data that can give insight into a child’s innermost thoughts and feelings. What expectations of privacy are reasonable? Where does the collected data end up, who does the analysis and for how long is it stored? Is data analysis, alongside real-time surveillance, the most rational and effective approach to achieve a harmonious home life?

Victoria Durnak (b. 1989) is a Norwegian artist and fiction writer based in Oslo. She has published two collections of poetry and four novels with Flamme Forlag, most recently Smilefjes. Tommel opp. Regnbue. (Smiling Face. Thumbs Up. Rainbow.) (2019). Previous solo exhibtions include Core, Studio 17, Stavanger (2018); The Mistress Dispeller, Podium, Oslo (2017); and Secret Friend, Hordaland Kunstsenter, Bergen (2015).

Supported by Arts Council Norway. The exhibition is the result of Atelier Nords yearly Open Call.