Des Arts Decoratifs et Industriels Modernes & des Arts et Techniques dans la Vie Moderne. On show projects by five contemporary visual artists which engage with specific instances of modernity as represented through industrial or domestic design.
The Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes & des Arts et Techniques dans la Vie Moderne (International Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts & Art and Technology in Modern Life) presents projects by five contemporary visual artists which engage with specific instances of modernity as represented through industrial or domestic design. A world-famous tower, a street, a range of furniture, a modular display system, and textile patterns, have been metaphorically taken apart before being reconstituted, sometimes literally, through artistic practices and personal affiliations which incorporate historical research, travel, tribute and scenography, for example. Running counter to the modernist spirit of rationality, clarity and empiricism, the artists’ often playful engagements deal with anecdotal, subjective, and frequently deliberately imprecise applications. Their projects engage with disciplines traditionally outside of the domain of the visual arts, and in doing so they invite a renegotiation of a design’s intended use, and an interest in the point at which apparent aesthetic surplus or redundancy modifies or reconstructs an object’s meaning or efficacy.
The artists’ works furthermore operate with a heightened awareness or awkwardness of their being exhibited (and alongside a synthesized ‘period’ exhibition title taken from conjoining the names of the Paris Worlds’ Fairs from 1925 and 1937). Theatricality and commercial or museological display strategies are the restraints and releases, or the actual subject, of the artists’ articulations. How does the reproducibility, as well as the attribution or anonymity, of authored and to various degrees canonical or generic designs within a public-facing world translate into a personal or private practice? What kind of relationship can be established between a marginal or marginalized maker and a contemporary artist; and to what extent can design, the arts or art exceed and escape both? What is at stake in reconnecting with the values of progressive modernity as a memory or a mythology?
Meessen De Clercq
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