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View of La Monte Young and Marian Zazeela’s Dream House.
View of La Monte Young and Marian Zazeela’s Dream House.

MELA Foundation Launches Campaign to Save La Monte Young’s New York Dream House

La Monte Young and Marian Zazeela’s Dream House, a landmark conceptual artwork and performance venue currently located on the third floor of 275 Church Street in Manhattan, is facing an uncertain future amid financial troubles exacerbated by the pandemic. First conceptualized by the artists in the early-1960s and open to the public for free, this iteration of the immersive sonic and light environment was installed in 1993 and is maintained by the MELA Foundation, whose longtime backer for Dream House pulled its funding in 2015, and which now owes over $150,000 in back rent.

A legendary avant-garde composer who pioneered American Minimalist music, Young created Dream House with his wife and collaborator Zazeela as a work “that would be played continuously and ultimately exist as a ‘living organism with a life and tradition of its own.’” The Church Street installation—which shares an address with the artists’ longtime loft—is one of several configurations of Dream House, all of which involve a constellation of precisely tuned frequencies and symmetrical light designs by Zazeela. In 2015, a unique version of the work was acquired by the Dia Art Foundation, which staged the work at its building on West Twenty-Second Street (Dia had previously collaborated on maintaining yet another interpretation of the environment on Harrison Street in the early 1980s). 

According to artist and MELA Foundation director Jung Hee Choi, the situation at Church Street has cast Young and Zazeela’s lifework into “existential peril.” “This Dream House is our longest installation to date and it has provided a place for La Monte and Marian to perform on a regular basis just as they had dreamed,” Choi writes on the work’s newly launched GoFundMe page, whose goal is to raise $150,000. “All of our work, history, and future are here. We must cry out to the world to help us.”