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Artist puts unique twist on house revitalization in Camp Washington

The Swing House is inside of a rehabbed building on Avon Place in Camp Washington.

Mark Dejong's giant interactive art installation spans three floors of the house.


Tucked away in Camp Washington sits a small piece of paradise that a local artist spent about three years transforming.

Builder/artist and Cincinnati native Mark Dejong has been transforming the word “art” in Cincinnati for years. In 2012, he purchased a house in Camp Washington for a mere $5,000. It's now known as the Circle House for its overall theme of circles that run throughout the house's walls and décor.

Similarly, Dejong's renovation of the Square House in Northside turned it into a work of art, transforming the house into a thematic element.

His latest work of art, however, takes the cake. Dejong purchased a three-story house on Avon Place in Camp Washington a few years ago and began the process of transforming the house, this time removing all floors and walls.

You may be asking, “What kind of revitalization project is that?”

The house now contains a swing, something that captures not only the essence of its historic architecture but also takes you through “time and space." By removing all of the floors and walls, Dejong enabled the swing to float from the front of the house to the back in a fluid motion. Not only does the house provide a sculptural invention that hasn't been seen anywhere else in the country, but parts of it were repurposed as artwork and structures that highlight the history and material of the old three-flight staircase.

The inspiration for the design came from memories of Dejong’s childhood flat that overlooked Mill Creek but also sat below hillsides looking the other direction, giving a sense of vertigo. He wanted to convey this in the Swing House design.

As the focal point of the house and inspiration for the name, the 30-foot long swing is attached to ropes that are secured to an iron beam that runs across the ceiling. The floor boards are skewed at a 5-degree angle, giving the sense that the building is moving a bit while walking through it. Although it has only been open to the public for special occasions a few times, Dejong plans to further launch his innovative project via open houses this summer (to be announced via media and social media at a later date).

In lieu of the architectural masterpiece slowly but surely becoming the talk of innovative art in the area, the Swing House has also been selected as a feature in the Contemporary Arts Center's 2017-2018 season. This particular exhibit runs until May 20, 2018, and will showcase some of the unique structures formed from the salvaged materials during construction, as well as artist-led tours of the house.

The CAC claims that Dejong has “joined the lineage of artists like Gordon Matta-Clark, Georges Rousse and Theaster Gates in the illuminating re-visioning of built space into poetic and performative interventions,” something that few artists in the area have achieved.

While the Swing House isn’t regularly open to the public, special occasions and tours will be available later this summer. To keep up with the news and happenings regarding the Swing House, visit the CAC exhibition webpage or the pages specifically geared toward the Circle/5k House and Square house, and keep up with Dejong on social media.
 

Read more articles by Erin Pierce.

Erin Pierce is a contributing writer for Soapbox, and a recent graduate of Northern Kentucky University.
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