Peninsula Island Presents House of Love
Mia Ardito

Brackett Creek Exhibitions is pleased to present Mia Ardito’s mixed-media sculptures for NADA Miami 2023. Ardito’s sculptures are created from a combination of hand-made, thrifted, and found objects. They function dually as art objects with their own sculptural logic and sets for Ardito’s fictional reality TV show, Peninsula Island Presents House of Love.
“I think I have always looked at things in terms of scale and what to a doll, (be they 1:6 or 1:12 to human proportions) a sink, a bathtub, a trickling stream, or great lake might seem. To a Barbie doll who is 1:6 human scale, a standard bathroom sink is a little larger than a bathtub and a bit smaller than a swimming pool, therefore it makes sense to me, that a sink filled with hot bubbling water could fit up to 4 Barbie bathers comfortably.”

The House of Love is the central setting for the show, for the purposes of flirting, gossiping, kissing, sleeping, confrontation, and elimination, all to scale of the 1-foot-tall characters. It is a white stucco, three-story Spanish-style villa, complete with an outdoor terrace and a rustic pitched roof, tiled with American pennies. The outdoor spaces are lush with plastic greenery and a multitude of lounge areas. Hinged cabinet doors open the house on the back side to spectacular cliffside views.

The central feature of the Vanity Spa is a luxurious seashell hot tub on the top level, surrounded by pink tiling and a lounge area. Towards the back and sides are vanities for applying makeup and a pink shower. Above is a pink shelf, with a large mirror and various scents and pill bottles; Just beneath, a surveillance camera. The back side of the Vanity Spa, also a white stucco exterior, is adorned with a copper tin roof. Two chiseled bodies, male and female headless Barbie dolls are reminiscent of stone-carved Ancient Egyptian monoliths. Crowned between the bodies is an all-seeing eye with fake eyelashes. The bottom half of the Vanity Spa is complete with blue urinals, toilets (without doors for privacy), and a collection of human-sized cleaning products and toilet paper. A cufflink is the shower knob; two soap dishes are the urinals.

Vernacular architecture is defined loosely as being designed without formal architectural training, and with using the materials at hand. Ardito creates her own folk sets in such a manner, primarily through locally accessible materials of New York: reclaimed packaging and waste. Some of the materials are from her own family, passed down from both grandfathers who also built doll houses. The moss is from the 1970’s. The Vanity Spa bath is a reclaimed sink from her original studio landlords who were renovating a 1950’s bathroom.

“I use what I come across walking the streets, eyes out for furniture that can transform into the setting, the stage, the pedestal, or the architecture for an imagined or future scene at 1:6 scale. A diorama where the post-consumer waste, the unwanted household items can be transformed into another, smaller yet recognizable object. Vases that are covid test vials. A toothbrush as a hairbrush. A Child's training toilet seat as a modern Italian leather couch. I collect discarded Styrofoam packaging for its architectural elements. Stucco the packaging around the bowl of a Kitchen Aid mixer and it is the alcove above the entryway to the villa. It held a large tv and now it's a building facade, the recycling decal painted as a bronze Grecian medallion.”

The objects may be used as props or a backdrop for Peninsula Island Presents House of Love, but the show’s narrative does not dictate how the sculptures are made. Rather, the sculptures end up dictating the actions of the show—the Barbie-doll characters become props and the sets, the central characters. Ardito was inspired by the UK reality television show Love Island (2015-present) and the spaces that were created by the makers of the show. For example, Ardito notes that there is “a spot for first kisses, a spot for heart to hearts, a spot for hashing it out but not yelling, the area for yelling, the communal bedroom! I wanted to map it out for myself. Life is predetermined by design.”

Also loosely inspired by Love Island is the presence of cameras, eyes, and reflective surfaces. The all-seeing-eyes imitate the perennial surveillance of a reality TV show, which allows for the viewer to create what is called a “parasocial relationship” (one-sided, layman-to-celebrity bond). And although the characters of the set are absent, the viewer inescapably becomes a complicit voyeur in observing truly banal domesticity—settings for daily, mundane tasks and conversations. The windows, vantage points, and mirrors throughout are perfect for watching, and catching a glimpse of our own reflection.

Ultimately, the sculptures, although having their own artistic autonomy, become an open-source lead-in to another body of work—the reality TV show. And when you are voted off the island on Peninsula Island Presents House of Love, you die. Or at least after Season 4, when a natural disaster turns a peninsula into a deserted island and a reality TV dating show into a season of Survivor.

The creators of the show, Ardito and her artistic collaborator, Máire Witt O’Neill (collectively, Soft-Pants Studios), have a long-running practice that stemmed from their time at the Maryland Institute College of Art, focusing on reality television, feminist discourses, and contemporary media. Soft Pants Studios assumes the roles of corporation, producer, director, performer, consumer, critic, and advertiser—mining the metanarratives of television production and consumption in order to complicate and question singular perspectives.

Mia Ardito received an MFA in interdisciplinary sculpture from MICA in 2010 and has exhibited and performed in venues such as Hauser & Wirth, NY, Goethe Institute, Chicago, Anthology Film Archives, NY; Frieze Art Fair, NY; INVERSE Performance Festival, AK; American Medium Gallery, NY; Mana Contemporary, NJ.

NADA Miami
December 5–9, 2023

Ice Palace Studios
1400 North Miami Avenue
Miami, FL 33136

VIP Preview (by Invitation):
Tuesday, December 5, 10am–4pm

VIP Hour (by Invitation):
Wednesday, December 6, 10–11am

Open to the Public:
Tuesday, December 5, 4–7pm
Wednesday, December 6, 11am–7pm
Thursday, December 7, 11am–7pm
Friday, December 8, 11am–7pm
Saturday, December 9, 11am–6pm