Soft City - Forum, temporary pavilion and workshops

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

 First draft image of the Octopus Pavilion on site in Baitasi

First draft image of the Octopus Pavilion on site in Baitasi

 A more recent visualisation of the inflated conapy

A more recent visualisation of the inflated conapy

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WAM万物 at Beijing Design Week 2014

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.

 

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IFP at Beijing Design Week

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

 

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IFP Sessions: Johan Zetterquist

 

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.

The Third Meaning

This installation was a part of SaYiZheng (Sleepwalking in Chinese, or sometimes translated as nonsense) a night art exhibition taking place last Friday in and around Doujiao hutong here in Beijing. The exhibition was organised by IFP's artist-in-residence Zoro Feigl and artist and curator Tianji Zhao. Altogether 23 artists participated, and quite a large amount of people came to see the exhibition and performances.

The idea behind this installation was to create a space with light, and as a response to the rough and ecclectic environment, I decided to create something that was quite purist and clean, but still made from materials found locally. The flourescent lights are activated by sound, which is also common here, especially in staircases of residential building blocks. However in the hutongs the lights are usually quite dim and the relationship to sound is more surprising. The configuration of a gate or a portal suited the site very well and provided a quite new experience of the hutong space. At the same time, its purity and materiality can refer to the typical white box gallery space, in which this kind of flourescent light fittings are virtually prerequisite.

The title, The Third Meaning comes from a text by Roland Barthes, referring to a third layer of meaning in SM Eisensteins films. I don't claim to harbor such a meaning, but if there is a third layer of meaning to anything, I'm sure someone can find it.

 

 

Preliminary sketch

 

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The next morning, only a few pieces of wood were left.

IFP Sessions #4: Hans van Houwelingen

 

On November 24, the Institute For Provocation here in Beijing will host a talk by the Dutch conceptual artist and sculptor Hans van Houwelingen.

Hans van Houwelingen mostly works within the realm of public space and his artworks often take on ideological contradictions and ambiguities, representing them in a physical form.

Feel free to join us at the IFP Studio, heizhima hutong 13 at 6pm. More information about the artist here.

UPDATE:

The talk was very interesting and lead to the eventual interruption of the presentation as a discussion over one of the works (proposal for a memorial for guest workers in Rotterdam) became extensive. Indeed the conceptual nature of Hans' works are open to interpretations and criticism of various kind, and I definitely enjoy the way he discusses the meaning of things, rather than their formal attributes.

Below some photos of the talk.