As a master’s student at the University of Texas at Austin in the 1990s, Coolquitt started building a house for the purpose of creating a performance/studio/domestic hybrid space. Almost thirty years later, the project—Coolquitt’s home—is still thriving and in constant flux. Coolquitt builds immersive installations—both in his house and in museums across the country—that ruminate on the domestic environment; they are often reminiscent of house museums or living history sites. To do this, he carefully selects familiar goods such as wigs, pressure cookers, or bath mats, and arranges them into uncanny tableaux.
For The Autotopographers, Coolquitt is creating a series of period rooms—set in the not-so-distant future—based on his living conditions in Austin. The space will include a main social area, a workroom, an office space, and a kitchen, each with a few surprises. Coolquitt’s intention is to unsettle and dislocate oneself from the typical associations of the home and its use in daily life. Although the design of his installation might appear to encourage interaction and participation, there is also an absurdist edge that instills a sense of unease.