I’m not entirely sure what to make of this work by Dutch artist Frank Halmans. He’s created these strange machines that are half vacuum cleaner and half architecture model. Most of the write-ups I’ve seen about his work have called them doll houses and suggested that it’s about showing “how dirt and debris clutter our personal spaces.” Which may be true, but these don’t look like doll houses to me– they aren’t that glamorous- and when have you seen a dollhouse with a saw-toothed roof?
You know how a lot of vacuums have clear basins that collect all of the junk they pull off of a surface? It’s fun to see that disgusting mixture of dust, hair, and crumbs swirl around inside like a gross tornado. But it’s not fun to empty; you try your best not to touch the stuff because you want it gone, out of your living space and into your trashcan. Admittedly, I have no idea what motivated Halmans to make these absurd machines, but to me it reminds me of the things I want to see but have nothing to do with. Architecture models are always a little voyeuristic, you want to see inside of them. What Frank Halmans has done is create a series of vacuums that you’re motivated to look inside, but less compelled to want to have anything to do with what’s inside. They’re full of stuff that nobody wants to touch or have polluting their workplace. These are miniature environments where we don’t have to live or work, voodoo spaces that can absorb all the nastiness we’ve removed from our lives.