New Decor

Blog  book the new décor, Hayward publishing

Modern art is not complex to me but yet portrays simplicity as most modern art have great methodologies and research when producing the art but the art its self seems pointless, Cant these methodology produce a productive useful piece of design rather than just aesthetics.

“pg 11 … Taking the forms and display of everyday furniture as a point of departure, the artworks in the new décor pointedly twist and subvert our conventions of interior space. Rewiring the behavioural cues embedded in décor and unsettling its social and psychological narratives, many of these sculptures convey breached sense of decorum. The standard etiquette of interior design, and the idealised image of social behaviour that it communicates, is conspicuous by its absence. In its place we encounter objects such as a cannon-powered office chair, a flying table, a lighting fixture that resembles a pile of explosives, and a sculpture that eerily merges a sofa and a memorial. Like items from an interior decorators anxiety dream, works such as these summon an unstable, restless apparition of décor.

While these sculptures evoke commonplace objects, they do so only to disarm our customary intimacy with them. This is as true  of those sculptures that modify parts of existing objects as it is of those that have been specifically fabricated to recall, directly or indirectly, the appearance of furniture. In both cases, the resulting objects appear as perplexed, precarious or troubling – as alienated, in other words – as any subjects who might conceivably ‘use’ them. Bereft of utopian rhetoric, they offer no vision of art galleries transformed into congenial sites of collective exchange or activity (and in this respect they provide a distinct contrast with design-related art from the past fifteen years that has been associated with ‘relational aesthetics’). Instead these sculptures imply a degree of alienation and uncertainty – a sense of not fitting inane not feeling ‘at home’- is a crucial benefit of our encounters with art, and integral to its capacity for displacing our readymade ways of relating to the world around us.

Just as the French word decor refers to stage sets as well as interior design, much of the art in The New Decor seemingly occupies an arena between theatre and everyday life, between the fictional and the empirical. As sculpture that resembles furniture, it inevitably enacts a masquerade of sorts. It assumes a kind of double or in some cases, triple identity, as in the car (to name only one example) of Los carpenters’ Cama (bed)2007- a sculpture object that resembles a bed that in turn evokes motorway overpass. Uncertainly poised between artwork, theatrical prop and decor, such works open up an expanded field of reference and allusion. They transform the self-contained design object into a matrix of associations and ideas, often extrapolating on the ways that decor projects a desired image of the self or arbitrarily imposes one; how it reproduces social relationships or functions almost like a theatrical prop in staging the identity of a person or place. Sme works refer to intimate encounters or to political struggles in parts of the world ranging from palestine to paris, Beijing to Bogota. And like came, many of the sculptures in The New Decor combine references to inside and outside spaces, suggesting ways that public and private experience increasingly bleed into each other (sometimes with disastrous consequences).pg 11

“Enough of the house as an artificial cave: it is more a warping of the sphere of interpersonal relations.”

Vilem Flusser, The shape of things: A philosophy of design, Anthony Matthews (trans), Reaktion books,London,1999,p,81

“The interior marks te perspective of the subject, his relationship to himself and to the world.”

Pierre Bourdieu, Distinction: A social critique of the judgement of taste, Richard nice (trans), Harvard university Press, Cambridge, MA, 1984.

“pg13 In taking up décor as a visual refernce, sculpture inevitably engages with the connection between furniture and the human body. Furniture, after all, is designed to hold and support us, to accommodate out physical activity , and this intimacy of use is reflected in the anatomical terms used to describe its various parts. We speak of the “head” of a bed, the “legs” of a table and the “back” of a chair.(and this is not merely metaphorical speech: there is no other term to describe the “arm” of an armchair, for instance.)”

“There is no way of isolating living experience from spatial experience.”

Quoted in ‘interview with Carlos Basualdo’, in Doris Salcedo, Phaidon Press, London, 2000,p.17.

“The ultimate in paranoia is not when everyone is against you but when everything is against you”

Quoted in ‘Philip K.Dick:speaking with the dead’, an ‘interview’ by Erik Davis,21C Magazine, vol 2,2003.

“pg 19 – Is it possible to conceive of a paranoid decor? What would it comprise an interior landscape in which mundane objects look back at us with sinister or unknown intent? According to the late science-fiction writer Philip K. Dick, the definitive paranoid formulation is not ‘My boss is plotting against me’, but ‘My bosses phone is plotting against me’. Perhaps in the case of Urs Fischer’s A thing called gearbox (2004), a painted bronze sculpture that presents an item of office furniture as a vehicle propelled by violent explosions- we might be  led to imagine our boss’s chair plotting against us. Given the pervasive culture of paranoia induced by a mass media that relentlessly focuses on fear-inducing subjects (terrorism, crime, contagious disease), even our most mundane daily environments are not immune to intimations of dread…… 21…In many ways paranoia is an appropriate narrative model for an age in which all places are connected, in which no effect is purely local, and faraway cores can have a profound impact on our private lives. The works in The New Decor highlight this situation in delineating breakdowns and ruptures between our categories of public and personal space. Against the background of a social landscape where ‘home’ has become a frontline commodity riding the roller coaster of speculative bubbles, they engage the increasingly exposed precarious and unpredictability of our everyday environments.

Yet at the same time these works invert paranoid formulations- which concentrate all possible meanings around a single (persecuted) subject – by opening up our reading of sculpture to an expended field of cultural references and alternative identities. They articulate a conceptual decor in which objects function as generators of ideas about particular kinds of spaces and the relationships they engender, operating from an underlying assumption that space is never neutral or abstract but is always tied to specific cultural frameworks and histories. Ultimately, the content of this kind of work unfolds in the ways that it stimulates us to rearrange our mental furniture, to open new doors and windows in the separate compartments of our thinking- including all those principles of inclusion and exclusion that shut down the range of connections that we make between disparate aspects of social and aesthetic experience. Radically denaturing the appearance of those objects with which we feel most at home, the art in The New Decor provokes us to resituate our own position amidst that ‘warping of interpersonal relationships’ that defines our worlds of interiors.”

Kleine Lichtkanone (Little light cannon)(2009), as its name suggests, is no ordinary overhead lamp.It neither envelops its surroundings in a warm cosy light no serves as a decorative centrepiece. Constructed from neon tubes slung together and cinched at their middles with a single black wire, Bonvicini’s lamp hangs precariously above our heads, dousing us in a shocking harsh white light. It may be reminiscent of Dan Flavin’d Minimalist sculptures made from neatly arranged neon tubes, but the gesture of Bonvicini’s DIY arrangement, with its chaos of tangled wires plugged into fuses at the ends, is more reminiscent of the act of throwing together a makeshift bomb.

This aggressive configuration is characteristic of Bonvicini’s sculptural interventions, which are uncompromisingly direct responses to architectural spaces that she sees as being designed by and for men. Using primarily industrial building materials, including metal bars, chains, plywood, plaster and drywall, she designs sculptures that provocatively reconfigure the rooms in which they are placed.


Chain Leather swing (2009), a hybrid utilitarian object, is a hammock slung from the four corners of the gallery space by metal chains, converging in the middle of the room to form a seat that does not so much invite relaxation as dare you to enter its tangled web.


Martin Boyce: ‘Can i make a table sad or heavy or exposed and lost?’ wonders Martin Boyce. In his sculptural installations the artist imbues modernist urban furniture with characteristics that transcend their original forms and functions.

Some Broken Morning (2008) is a floating lattice of neon tubes, suspend above our heads. This fractured, fluorescent expanse forms a spider’s web of light that Boyce sees as a distortion of the city grid- an urban plan that has been twisted out of shape in order ‘ to slow it down’. The work is characteristic of the way that Boyce extracts elements from their original contexts and gives them abstracted forms. Liberated from their original purpose, they can be seen as symbols of the short-comings of modernist design, or given new possibilities to achieve their utopian objectives.


Angela Bulloch: In the wall- based work Smoke Spheres 2:4(2009), The arrangement of lights is also not merely decorative. Rather, the placement of the 19 illuminated smoked-glass spheres is based on the composition of black circles on white canvas in Bridget Riley’s 1964 Op-Art painting Whit discs 2. Though smoke spheres does not formally resemble pixel boxes. its structure is similar, in that Bulloch transposes one apparently ‘random’ arrangement into another. The modulating light and fading colours in Bulloch’s light-based works, sometimes accompanied by commissioned soundtracks, is not that of a ‘mood lamp’ or ‘lounge music”instead Bulloch renders the domestic or communal act of watching TV or ‘chilling out’ unexpectedly inscrutable.


Los Carpinteros: (‘The Carpenters’) make work that inverts the function of interior spaces and the objects within them, employing metaphor to raise questions of politics, identity and national culture. Compromising the Cuban artists, Marco Castillo and Dagoberto Rodriguez, the duo’s practice places a value on collective working, subverting the notion of the individual artist as genius in an age of mass production. With Cama(BED)(2007) they present a bed that has been customised into the shape of a motorway junction, complete with flyovers and slip roads. One cannot help but think of this in the context of Ameica’s fascination with the automobile. The freeway overpass is an architectural landmark, a feat of structural engineering, each one an anonymous homage to the freedoms afforded by road travel in that country. And yet this homage is here supplanted in a bed, a place of rest, sleep and love. The bed as a domestic site was similarly explored in La Montana Rusa (Russian Mountain)(2008). This time a pink version was reconfigured into the form of a roller coaster. In both works, such juxtapositions are at once seductive and monstrous. They might be trumpeting the extrapolated whims of a consumer society, but equally they could be an ironic upturning of commodity in globalised economy. It is unclear where the celebration starts and the criticism ends.


Jimmie Durham: A Meteoric Fall to Heaven (2000) features and elegant Viennese armchair desecrated by a heavy rock. The perfectly calculated missile ha shattered its wooden frame and ripped through the upholstery, forcing it into a paradoxical new subject – hood as the victim of human violence. As the work’s title suggests, this is not an act of god but a carefully orchestrated set-up, like most things in our mediated, earthly lives. Durham has said that sympathy with objects engenders imagination, both in the sense of creating pictures in the mind and allowing new ideas to emerge.


Elmgreen and Dragset: Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset employ a radical, at times theatrical, use of the site-specific to examine underlying social structures. Taking public of institutional spaces as their raw materials, they investigate the indivisibility of architectural and social conventions. Through alterations to the figures, they suggest alternatives to the rigid behavioural standardisation that these structures not only reflect but also perpetuate.

An ongoing series of works entitled ‘powerless structures’, which began in 1997, explores attempts to undermine the authority implicit in these conventions by means of subtle alteration. Anxiety, frustration and desire are played out through furnishings, rupturing their generic finish, dimensions and usage.


Spencer Finch: The light installations of spencer finch often reconstruct specific examples of external luminosity. Using everyday lighting equipment he attempts to recreate particular light conditions based on his observation of technical measurements, stimulating our sense in scenes that are resonant with poetry.

In Night Sky (over the painted Desert, Arizona, january 11 2004) Finch turns our attention away from the obvious natural phenomenon of Arizona’s painted desert, with its stratified layers  of brightly coloured rock, to the twinkling heavens above. He presents a constellation of 401 dimmed light bulbs in an apparent attempt to replicate the night sky at a particular moment. Upon further examination we learn that the clusters are not in fact representations of the stars, but rather visualisations of molecular structures. Finch first painted a watercolour of the sky on the night in question and then employed simple scientific means to determine the atoms of the paint, which were then used as the basis of the stars.

Finch’s work revolves around the problems and opportunities inherent in the act of representation. At an immediate level the ordinary household lights elegantly recreate a night sky we thought. By representing the atoms from an image of the sky, Finch creates further distance from the original scene and in doing so imbues the process with greater significance. The accuracy that is achieved is not intended to introduce an empirical outcome, but rather serves to maintain the fleeting,subjective nature of observation.


Sarah Lucas, sculptural tableaux adopt a junk-shop aesthetic to describe a grimy, downbeat existence.In Fuck Destiny (2000), a battered old sofa bed assumes anthropomorphic attributes, with a pair of lightbulbs for breasts on its reclining frame and a long phallic fluorescent light that penetrates a tear in its red vinyl upholstery. The sexual innuendo that runs throughout her work is impossible to miss here, but the offhand way Lucas combines these elements, propped casually on a packing case, is an exercise in sculptural confidence and her ability to install the cheap and readily available with metaphysical resonance. Cultural cliche of a particularly British sort may be her raw material, but her sculptures, even when they feature grubby toilets or stinking food standing in for genitalia, suggest melancholy sympathy rather than ridicule for life;s sorry protagonists.




About hannahruthkellett

I am currently doing my Masters in interior design, this blog is to reflect and inspire my progress through out my time on the course. View all posts by hannahruthkellett

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