Forty Ordinary Minutes

  • February 2006
  • Farnsworth House (Mies van der Rohe, 1951) 
  • Plano, Illinois, USA

During tourist season, the Farnsworth House belongs to the canon of modern architecture and is offered to us that way. In the isolated winter months, it is dormant. On a typical tour, we would be allowed only to document the house through the glass. Today, two of us will be allowed forty minutes of free reign, allowed to document the house from the interior, the way an inhabitant would view it. There are, of course, exceptions. We will not photograph the interior core of the Farnsworth House, including the ordinary cupboards and bathrooms. We must not photograph the house from the inside while the curtains are drawn, and the soft interior light gives one the sense of moving within a beautifully-ordered cocoon. We must not photograph the surveillance equipment bolted to the top perimeter of the primavera core. We must not photograph the interior of Dr. Farnsworth’s contested wardrobe.