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Art in abandoned homes for “Rooms to Let”

Rooms to Let: Cleveland is an innovative annual art installation in Cleveland’s Slavic Village. May, 2017 was the fourth consecutive year of this event where artists and makers create works in vacant homes and vacant lots.

In the neighborhood that has been called “ground zero” for the foreclosure crisis in the U.S., artists take over abandoned, condemned homes and transform them, referencing both the past devastation and the possibility of a different future and spurring a conversation about vacancy and neglect.

MANDEM was selected for Rooms to Let by Northeast Ohio curator and artist Loren Naji (director of Satellite Gallery).

MANDEM is an artist conglomerate, one of whom lives with a genetic disorder (Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome) that causes failure of the body’s connective tissues. Their Hypermobility series uses studio models with connective tissue disorders to capture moments where joints hyperextend or dislocate and the body moves into broken-seeming, impossible configurations. This project began during MANDEM’s artist residency in Florence, Italy after receiving FSU’s Florence Teaching Award.

The paintings in MANDEM’s Rooms to Let installation (“The Pre-Existing Conditions” and “Hypermobility / Hysteria”) were knit into the walls and floors of a condemned house to become “Dislocation as a Form of Creation” – a project that explores the poetics of disability, nerves misfiring, failing connective tissues, pain and transcendence.

Text on “The Pre-Existing Conditions” reads:

“To find meaning in suffering is the right only of one who suffers, saying I AM HERE, a Sacrifice of Myself to Myself.”

MANDEM’s artist statement about the work explains:

“These images look to find a moment of (self) creation in the embrace of a disabled body. As art objects, though, their larger goal is to reinsert disabled bodies into the often-inaccessible homes of art and mythology and to reassert our agency and right to exist.”

Rooms to Let received a substantial amount of press coverage from Cleveland-area newspapers, magazines, and television stations, drawing crowds of over 3,000 people on opening day alone.


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