The simple square house with a triangle roof is one of the first things many children learn to draw. It is a universal symbol. Home sweet home. Nine times out of ten, these geometric houses are found surrounded by smiling stick figures, bright suns, and green grass. It is as if, as kids, we are taught to draw the idyllic situation, the perfect home. Potter is curious as to what happens when such a positive symbol is spun in the other direction. What happens when the home is, for example, haunted by demons or invaded by spiders? What does it mean if the “perfect house” is, in reality, not perfect at all? In one painting, the viewer can find the child’s drawing being burnt with a match. Who is burning it? The child himself, perhaps realizing that this utopian drawing is far from the truth? Does the perfect home exist anywhere except for the very paper on which it is doodled?
“House Arrest” is carved with a folk-art technic called ball in cage, “whimsy” or “whimsical carving”. Originally it functioned as a game of entertainment while waiting for trains in the United States in the early twentieth century. In this case, Potter transforms the house into a prison. The central piece of wood that remains after the carving is too large to ever leave the cage from which it originated. For the ball to escape the cage, or in this case for the head to escape the home, it would literally have to be broken and set free. The character is trapped. When asked about this, Potter reflects on the many situations that can keep you in a small town such as the one where he grew up in upstate New York. Like the ball in the cage, it may be impossible to leave.
You are in a home in which you are held back, perhaps unconsciously, due to various circumstances. It is the circumstances that build the structure of the house as entertainment, like a whimsy ball in cage. The coincidences create a situation of parallelism with the Platonic of the cave, very Truman even.
You don’t know how to get out, but you don’t even know if you want to get out, and nobody is going to tell you when it’s time to get out.
A conversation between Hunter Potter and Raquel Victoria