Set against the chaos and complexity of contemporary life, the dream of eloping to the woods to live out a simple and unfettered existence is an increasingly tempting fantasy.
The perfect wooden cabin plays a large part: appealing not just for their material honesty, attractive geometry, and breathtaking surroundings, cabins are, at least in popular imagination, a symbol of unity between man and nature, the humble abode of adventurous pioneers and poets – and, more recently still, the object of our wanderlust.
Cabin Fever at the Vancouver Art Gallery unpicks the many cultural constructs underpinning the architectural typology of the North American cabin.
Taking a broad-brush approach that stretches across time from Henry David Thoreau’s philosophical wilderness survival guide, Walden (1854), to the contemporary coffee table book Cabin Porn (2015), Cabin Fever explores the rustic shack as shelter, utopia, and pop-cultural porn.
It calls upon an international roster of architects and artists, including old heavyweights like Frank Lloyd Wright, R. Buckminster Fuller, and photographer Dorothea Lange, alongside contemporary cabin connoisseurs like BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group), Olson Kundig, and Patkau Architects.