I am developing a project for Beijing Design Week 2016 called SOFT CITY, a multidisciplinary project including a temporary space made up of an inflated textile canopy, an international forum with two discussion panels, and a series of workshops and events in the pavilion.
For more information about the project visit soft-city.org
A concrete stool based on the proportions of my Untitled Chair series. This first test was made as a stool with a textile mold. These will be exhibited at Aotu Studio in Beijing.
More to come!
On November 20th I will present my thoughts on modern living in China and my design philosophy during the opening of a design exhibition at Vanke Center in Nanjing featuring Zaozuo.
The location is Nanjing Wuwei Cultural Innovation Centre in Nanjing Tainan district Jianning rd No 13 or 南京市秦淮区江宁路13号南京无为文化创意产业园D幢101室
In the past few months I have started a design collaboration with ZaoZuo, a young and ambitious Chinese furniture brand focusing on online sales. By offering good design at affordable prices and smart contemporary living solutions for young urban professionals, ZaoZuo is planning to become a real player in the so far underdeveloped Chinese furniture market. Among the other designers working with them are Swedish Form Us With Love and Italian, Stockholm-based Luca Nichetto. The collaboration includes one chair (Freelancer) and a foldable table which I am currently developing.
Here you can find out more about my projects with ZaoZuo.
This year I participated in Beijing Design Week with my furniture brand WAM万物. The showcase was set up in a small courtyard along Yangmeizhu xiejie in Dashilar. Together with my colleague Wula I wa finishing the 'Untitled' chair on site by weaving the polypropylene straps onto pre-made ashwood frames painted in corresponding colours. As a spatial intervention we created a light canopy using the same straps, suspended from one wall of the courtyard to the other in a random pattern. For the design week we made an edition of 22 chairs in six different colours. Aside from the normal side chair we also made two new models for the occasion, one slightly wider armchair and one even wider and lower lounge chair. Both seemed to be generating a lot of interest so they will most likely become part of the 'Untitled' collection.
In general we got a lot of visitors to our little off-the-main-track-courtyard; our location as the first exhibitor as they entered the yard gave us a lot of exposure, but we didn't succeed in selling any of the chairs during the week. As a first attempt at going public with WAM万物 it was still quite successful in generating publicity.
More information about the 'Untitled' chair can be found here.
Don't miss IFP's shows during the design week. There is a lot going on around town but this is an antidote to the flatness of most of the design week programme. For some thoroughbred art and alternative design, come over, open your senses and stay for a while. More info at blacksesame.org
Together with artist and IFP collaborator Tianji Zhao, I will participate in a conference on artistic research and public action at Centre for Architecture and Design in Stockholm Sept 9-12. Our contribution to the public actions, 'Hold Your Breath' will be performed in public space during the conference. More about the conference here
On Sept 12th I will also give a presentation about IFP at IASPIS/Konstnärsnämnden.
Looking forward to being back in Stockholm!
Image above from 'Parking Day Phoenix 2012'
June 27th, 2014, 5-9 pm
I am very happy to invite you to the opening of Black Sesame, a new project space for art, design and sensory experiences located in the courtyard at Heizhima hutong 13. IFP has teamed up with visual anthropology studio Here & Now and furniture concept WAM/万物 to transform the former boiler room into an open-ended space dedicated to exploring the limitations and possibilities of our human senses. Offering itself as a spatial platform for creativity open to IFP residents and the local community, Black Sesame will be a venue for high-quality projects, interventions and workshops.
For this opening event Dutch/French artist Serge Onnen will create a site-specific installation which invites visitors to explore the different characters of his animation film project Cloacinae. With the help of personal, hand-held light sources the shadow puppets will come alive and inhabit the white screen dividing the installation space in two. During the evening there will also be live music and Swedish traditional midsummer drinks and snacks.
Serge Onnen was resident at IFP in 2012 to explore Chinese shadow puppet theatre and work with puppet makers. This lead to a series performances (CAFA, Three Shadow Gallery, Zajia, Paper Tiger Studio) and collaborations with several musicians. This year he is back for a shorter period to work on animation using this more then 1000 year old chinese art form that could be seen as the earliest form of projected moving images. This will be the first animation ever made using this primitive media. Cloacinae is a 12 minute long movie about a unfortunate 1 cent coin that ends up in the sewer. The movie will be scored by musician Li Daiguo and will premiere at Rotterdam film festival 2015. For this exhibition Onnen will show all the puppets he has made so far in China. A zeotrope, another primitive pre-cinematographic device plays a important part in the movie and will also be shown and spinning during this one night event.
More info on Serge and the film: http://
I am currently renovating a new space for art and design, located next to IFP Studio in Heizhima hutong 13. The space is shared between IFP, WAM/万物 and Here & Now Studio and will be used for exhibitions, installations, workshops and alike. The official opening will be some time in June. Below are some snapshots of the current state of renovation:
I have completed a scenography project for Paper Tiger Theater Studio in Beijing. The play/performance is called 狼奔豕突 or 'Raging Wolfs Crashing Boars' in English. It's based on a new script for the stage by Paper Tiger's artistic director Tian Gebing, which is then performed by a number of dancers/performers, in a form that tries to break down the borders between dance and theatre. The play tries to mock the contemporary middle class soap opera life and constant earn for status. At the same time it pays homage to this city; its strong characters and vague ideals. The design for the stage is based around the concept of light being the only material visible on stage apart from the performers. I worked closely with the director to develop various forms of objects with integrated lights that the performers could use in their movements as a form of prop. At the same time the do not play the traditional role of props as they do not represent any objects mentioned in the script, but rather they act as an extension of the performers' bodies. In some cases they become the only source of light and in some cases they are supplemented by stage lighting.
Team: Max Gerthel, Sid Gulinck, Hu Wei
I was featured in the latest Time Out Beijing, in a series about the city's "artisans". I wouldn't go so far as to say that I am an artisan, but in the article I explain my design philosophy and way of working.
Also available online HERE
I have completed a new set of table and chairs for a client in Beijing. The pieces are prototypes but will be developed for production in the next few months.
The table is called EastWest and echoes the architecture within which it will stand; one of Beijing's best preserved Qing dynasty courtyard houses in Heizhima hutong, just North of the IFP Studio. The name is also a reference to a book When East Meets West by Werner Blaser which draws parallels between the work of modernist Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and traditional Chinese and Japanese wood architecture. The table is made in pinewood, also frequently used in Japanese furniture, treated with wood oil and white pigment to keep the wood from turning yellow with time. The legs protrude the table top in the shape of crosses, which helps increase the contact surface between the top and the legs, as well as referencing Mies frequent use of the cross in building elements.
The chair Untitled is a simple dining chair made from solid wood, with the seat and back in nylon bands, normally used in clothing, bags and accessories. The entire frame is made from square profile ashwood, drawing inspiration from Donald Judd's minimalist furniture and Sol Lewitt's grid structures. I have adjusted some of the angles to provide more comfort for everyday use, and tapered the bottom of the legs to make the chair look lighter. The bands making up the seat and back are wrapped around the wooden frame several times in an ad hoc manner, to give a more complex texture to the chair. Compared to a wooden seat and back, the bands adapt to the body and allows for longer-term use.
For the past 10 years, Johan Zetterquist has been working on a project called 'Proposals for Public Art', in which he through various media reflects on the possibles and impossibles related to artistic representation for and of the public domain. As a reaction to the usual issues attached to commissioning and executing 'public art', resulting in bland and apolitical or politically correct works, Johan takes his absurd and politically incorrect ideas very seriously, realizing them in the form of proposals presented in the way such would be submitted to an open call or competition.
By re-appropriating common, functional environments such as those found along highways, or even the highway itself, and simply proposing to highlight their physical and aesthetic qualities, Johan Zetterquist asks fundamental questions about their status and meaning in a broader humanistic sense. His 'proposals for public art' are often based around objects so generic and lacking of site specificity that the absurdity of the proposal becomes a driver, a machine that never stops jerking as long as we still consume, drive, construct and build fences. In a further perspective, we as viewers are confronted with dystopic images, glimpses of scenarios where these mundane sites appear as poetic fragments of a bygone era of human dillusion and hubris.
As well as they can be physical, 'proposals for public art' can be highly theoretical, or at least hypothetical. In a simple statement, presented as solid block-shaped letters against a white background, framed, a new thought presents itself. Highly banal yet thought-provoking, the black letters serve the only purpose of playing a tune in repeat in our ears that is incompatible with the way society is currently modulated.
Or as put by Judith Manzoni: "In an art world overflowed with the use of violent, shocking or scatological imaginary, the use of intelligent humour and meaningful absurdity arises as surprisingly subversive, as an intellectual art that playfully criticizes the comfortable approval of the status quo while making no concessions to political correctness."
'Proposals For Public Art', Saturday December 14, 6 pm, IFP Studio
More about Johans work can be found here.
This is the new site of Max Gerthel, architect based in Beijing. The content of the previous site www.maxgerthel.com has moved to this domain, maxgerthel.se (or maxgerthel.net).
Finally, after months of preparation, the Institute for Provocation is launching a new residency programme in collaboration with IASPIS. The 2-month residency is open for Swedish visual artists, architects and designers and starts in August this year. Deadline for applications is May 8, application here.
Iaspis – the Swedish Arts Grants Committee’s international program for visual art, architecture, design and craft – announces a new residency collaboration with the Institute for Provocation (IFP) in Beijing during 2013-14. The residency is open to applications from visual artists, architects and designers, and is thematically focused on the topic of public space in China.
Residency period: In 2013, two separate residencies of two months each are offered to two candidates, one from August 22 - October 22, and one from October 20 - December 22. Please indicate on the application form which period you are applying for.
Application deadline: 8 May 2013
Application procedure: The Iaspis delegation of the Visual Arts Fund selects a shortlist from the received applications. The final selection of grant holders is made by IFP. Successful applicants are informed by Iaspis on behalf of IFP at the end of June.
Grant: The total sum of the grant is 50 000 SEK per person and residency. This should cover costs for return travel Sweden-Beijing, food, sustenance and eventual production costs over the 2 month residency. As part of the residency, IFP provides shared workspace, accommodation and a part-time assistant. Please see more detailed information below. About Institute for Provocation
The Institute for Provocation (IFP) is a Beijing-based workspace and think tank hosting residencies, research projects, workshops and lectures stretching the borders between visual and performing art, architecture and design. As a workspace, IFP focuses on the thinking process before or even beyond the actual creation of an artifact: the collection of dramaturgical information, the testing of different architectural scenarios, the summarizing of existing artistic vocabularies and realized projects, the experimenting with new media or disciplines, and so on. Space, territory and geography serve as bridges between many disciplines and IFP has a specific interest in research that proposes cross-disciplinary strategies to open up for inquiries into topics related to these notions.
IFP was originally established under the name Theatre in Motion (until 2010) by sinologist and dramaturge Els Silvrants and architect Shuyu Chen and has since 2005 collaborated with artists, architects and performers on a wide range of projects and residencies.
The studio and workspace is located in a 85 sqm renovated courtyard house in the old city of Beijing. The studio is shared with 1-3 other resident artist(s) and IFP staff, has basic facilities such as internet, projector and screen, basic hand tools, shared kitchen. The resident artist will be accommodated close to the studio in a private or shared apartment with private bathroom. About the residency
As a part of an ongoing research project into the conditions for public space in Chinese cities, the Institute for Provocation in collaboration with Iaspis invite artists, architects and designers to apply for a residency based around the topic of public space.
China's economic rise over the past three decades is the result of a conscious strategy in which cities are playing a key role. Urbanization has been and will continue to be the main instrument for bringing the people out of poverty and into a consumption- and service lifestyle. But as the existing cities sprawl out and new ones are built from scratch, little attention is paid to their spatial and social qualities. The massive leap in scale from the ancient architectures to the new forests of highways and high-rises that now dominate the cityscapes create an array of problems related to space, identity, environment and social and economic equity. The juxtaposition of opposites – formal and informal, open and closed space – shapes the syntax in the reading of the Chinese city.
The applicant is intended to form their own interpretation of the theme and eventually find a focal point for his/her research. Responsible for running the programme in Beijing will be Max Gerthel, Swedish architect and IFP collaborator since 2011, and IFP's artistic director Shuyu Chen. We will guide the artist and provide insights into China and Chinese culture, special knowledge about cities and public space as well as local contacts in various fields. The residency will revolve around research as the main activity, without any specific requirements from the host organization regarding output or production by the artists in residence.
The purpose of this thematic residency programme is both to have a close dialogue and exchange between IFP and the artist, as well as to create more continuity, as each artist contributes to a larger body of research. This accumulation of knowledge, observation and interpretation can thus be shared internally, but also to the local community.
As a part of Sessions, IFP's public programme, the artist will have the possibility to present themselves and their work, listen to other practitioners and take part in discussions. There will also be possibilities of collaboration with external institutions for lectures and/or academic exchange. The residency will also be announced through IFP's network and newsletter, further enhancing the artist's visibility in China.
Residents will be provided with a desk space in the shared workspace of IFP's studio, accommodation in the vicinity of the workspace, a part-time art assistant providing interpretation/ translation and other assistance, support and guidance from IFP staff and opportunity to meet other artists in related fields. If the resident wishes to bring their partner/family for the full length of the residency s/he must inform IFP two months in advance. Any extra expense for accommodation of related guests will be carried by the resident.