The 387 Houses of Peter Fritz

Saturday April 06, 2019 Written by Ronan

We love shopping at second-hand stores. Mostly it's because we enjoy wearing other people's ratty old jumpers, but there's also the thrill of discovery; the idea that you could unearth a rare treasure. It's an unlikely fantasy, but it actually happened to artist Oliver Croy in 1993, when he discovered a few hundred handcrafted miniature homes at a Berlin junk shop, each disposed of in its own miniature garbage bag.

Croy ended up exhibiting his find at the Venice Art Biennale ten years later for a show entitled ‘The 387 Houses of Peter Fritz’. Despite the fanfare around the models, mystery continues to surround them. For instance, while we know that the models were made from recycled materials by an Austrian insurance clerk named Peter Fritz, we don’t really know much about who he was, why he did it, or how an insurance clerk came to possess these architectural skills.

Why the items were disposed of also remains a mystery. The houses were clearly the result of hundreds of hours of painstaking, hand-cramping labour. Did Fritz want them to be found? Why did the project stop at 387? And, most importantly, what are they... houses for ants?