Kunsthaus Glarus

Fit for Purpose

08 Feb - 03 May 2015

© Magali Reus
Parking (Retainer), 2014
Photo: Stefan Altenburger
Ruth Buchanan, Adam Cruces, Simon Dybbroe Møller, Gina Folly, Karin Hueber, Marlie Mul, Magali Reus, Valentina Stieger, Haegue Yang
8 February – 3 May 2015

Design is increasingly becoming contemporary culture’s primary discipline. Perfect, computer-generated and often de-personalized surfaces determine the perception of virtually all areas of life. The designs of display screen content, consumer goods and living spaces have led to the rise of an aesthetic high-tech cosmos encompassing all realms of life. Fit for Purpose alludes to the sobering expediency of today’s design, which is rooted in the legacy of modernism and the Bauhaus, and which seeks to communicate a sense of well-being and authority with an at times almost ascetic veneer. Entirely in the vein of the diagnosis, which is often mistakenly thought to be a quote by Marshall Mc Luhan, “We shape our tools and thereafter our tools shape us,” the high-gloss environments of corporate architecture are shaping us into successful, performance- and consumption-oriented users. And even in the context of the private sphere, the same type of design is regarded as the standard today. In recent years, artists have dealt more frequently with these surface phenomena. They employ this aesthetic as the basis of their work, and, in contrast to this, also play with the material aesthetics of the found or the discarded. Their questioning begins with the design legacy of modernism, focusing on the relationship between the design norms of public and private spaces and on the potential spaces in between. How do we move through such spaces, what influences our perceptions of them, which associations are triggered by the surfaces, forms and materials?
The invited artists – mainly from the generation of digital natives, skilled in new information technologies and fluent in the language of corporate communication – contrast orchestrated public and private space and product designs with tongue-in-cheek alternatives. They mirror the working, production and utilization conditions of today’s consumer culture, reinterpret cultural phenomena, manipulate slick everyday design by exaggerating or distorting it formally, comment critically or neutrally on conventions of use or viewing or invest these with the personal, the anecdotal or the physical.

Following a long tradition of artists who explore the relationship between the everyday, design and art, and who work with materials and construction products, casting them in an unfamiliar light, the focus today is divided equally between the potentialities of high tech, industry or of handicraft. Since the Arts & Crafts movement at the end of the nineteenth century, which marked the origin of design as a nostalgic counter-stance to industrial production, Pop Art, which adopted the seduction strategies of 1950s consumer culture for use in art, and Minimal Art, which sought during the 1960s to approximate industrial manufacturing processes and their formal vocabulary, thereby adding a range of new materials to the canon of materials, the constellations of art and design have shifted numerous times and have today even become their own discipline with a complex discourse.

Tags: Ruth Buchanan, Adam Cruces, Karin Hueber, Marlie Mul, Simon Dybbroe Møller, Magali Reus, Haegue Yang