Venice Note #1: Furniture & Wood

Elena Soboleva
Jul 9, 2013 3:17AM
Though functional design has been integrated into the sphere of art for much of 20th century, this was a prominent theme amongst artists in this year’s Biennale. Utilizing wooden furniture as a starting point for though deconstruction, these artists construct and contradict the nature of the everyday objects to manifest raw cultural and personal agency.

Ai Weiwei’s perilous installation Bang is the centerpoint of the four-artist exhibition in the German Pavilion.Taking 886 three-legged wooden stools and forming one organic mass, he comments on the growth and sprawl of society. These stools, which were previously predominant in China, are now relics replaced by cheap, mass manufactured plastics.

In the Dutch PavilionMark Manders presents Room with Broken Sentence, a deconstructed vision of a building, which is as architectural as it is reflective of the inner mind. Furniture cantilevers at odd angles, is rendered functionless and interspliced with figural sculpture all the meanwhile creating a dialogue with the architecture of the pavilion, designed by the famed Dutch furniture designer and architect Gerrit Rietveld.

The Uruguay Pavilion showcases the work of Wifredo Diaz Valdez, whose elegantly broken, decrepit objects—once a chair, barrel or violin—are suddenly unhinged and thrown back through the vortex of time, transformed to a prior (non-existent) state. Memory seems to seep out of the wooden objects as viewers are confronted by the transfigured states.

Images: Ai Weiwei; Mark Manders; Wifredo Diaz Valdez

Elena Soboleva
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Jenna Gribbon, Luncheon on the grass, a recurring dream, 2020. Jenna Gribbon, April studio, parting glance, 2021. Jenna Gribbon, Silver Tongue, 2019