Exhibition display Curated by Diana Baldon and Nicola Lees Malmö Konsthall Photo: Helene Toresdotter
Five large walls loosely reference the form of a compass, drawing attention to the recurring notion of geographical movement in Zaccagnini and Lagomarsino’s works, while shifting the audience’s gaze away from the centre of the gallery. The walls rotate diagonally between the columns of the konsthall’s distinctive architecture, whose features have been enhanced using bold primary colours — red for the columns and beams, blue for the short sides of the free-standing walls — that transform the space to enable a new physical experience for the viewer. Framing the exhibition as a dynamic entity, Frei’s design connects the artworks and gallery space into a specific and unique configuration. Within this broader structure, the placement of artworks in the exhibition repeatedly follows logics of pairing and confrontation that echo the artists’ own methods of working.
The width of the walls relates to the width of the existing walls of the gallery. Their open sides allow for different perspectives in the space, opening views from one section of the exhibition to the other. The fact that they are empty emphasise the walls as architectural features that divide space, occupy space, but also generate space. The vertical metal beams, left visible whenever there is no need for a flat surface for artworks, articulate a rhythmical experience of the space and of the exhibition as a whole.
Keywords / 2014
Exhibition design Curated by Grant Watson and Gavin Delahunty Tate Liverpool Steel frames, painted MDF Photo: David Lambert/Rod Tidman, Tate Photography
A long wall similar to a film strip made of six panels supported by metal studs runs through the Riverside galleries in a straight line. Each panel is meant to relate to a different keywords hand-written on the opposite side, such as private, structural, folk, violence, criticism, and liberation. Key artworks bridged the gaps between the panels creating a chain of links between the different sections.
Keywords / 2013
Exhibition design Lettering in collaboration with Will Holder Curated by Grant Watson and Gavin Delahunty Iniva (Institute of International Visual Arts) Photo: Thierry Bal
Raymond Williams’ book was written to address the malleability and fluidity of language, a condition that Frei and Holder have sought to reflect in their work. In order to scale up Frei’s cursive handwriting, a template – as opposed to a font – was made, allowing the pair to hand-draw ‘seemingly fluid lines, in separate parts.’ A digital font will produce the same letter-form, despite the context of surrounding letters. Instead, Frei describes the template as ‘active’, explaining that through this handwriting: ‘No single letter has a prescribed construction.’ Every letter, so every word, is unconsciously considered in relation to its neighbours. Like our understanding of the changing nature of words, ‘This adaptation according to context,’ say Holder and Frei, ‘is exactly what Williams wishes to pull out with regard to keywords.’
The exhibition design included the chairs, which were used for a ten-week course using Raymond Williams’ book as the basis for a new enquiry into the meanings and histories of key cultural terms, under the guidance of writer and educator Adrian Rifkin. Rather than designing new chairs, Frei asked the artists in the exhibition to lend a chair from their own living space or studio to be used by the participants of the course.
Both sides of the suspended walls are covered with pegboard, a perforated sheet of MDF commonly used for functional purposes. In relation to the exhibition this material is activated in two ways: on the one hand it relates to the artworks on display and their relationship to function, for example the designs for workers’ clothing by Varvara Stepanova, or the textile designs by Anni Albers. On the other hand, the visual effect produced by the layering of the two sheets of pegboard, when walking alongside the walls, produce a Moiré pattern, a term associated with a characteristic pattern that results from laying part of textile on top of another.
Search For The Spirit / 2009
Exhibition display Curated by Grant Watson in collaboration with Luis Jacob, Pádraic E Moore and Fern Bayer M HKA – Museum of Contemporary Art, Antwerp Photo: Christine Clinckx
The walls, round and with angles at different degrees, constitute a spacethat eludes the notion of center, underlining the idea of search, evoked in the title, as an integral part of the exhibition experience. The exhibition could also be viewed from the balconies, giving a different perspective both on the exhibition, its construction, and the architecture of the space, a theatre hall in an early 20th Century Catholic boys school.
The title Search for the Spirit comes from an exhibition by the artist group General Idea, which took place at the Galerie Gaetan in Geneva in 1976, and featured thirty six ‘show cards’ in a serial format of image, text and rubber stamp on identical mounts. These cards set out a topology of ideas and functioned as the conceptual frame for General Idea’s output during the 1970s. The cards develop the motif of the ‘General Idea Beauty Pageants’ and explore the group’s interest in glamour as a powerful physic force, able to move people to do unusual things. Here the search for the spirit, is the search for a winner (a Miss General Idea) but it is also a search for the spirit of art, because in the group’s lexicon, Miss General Idea is used as a metaphor for art, and its alchemical power to transform.
While the overall tone is one of earnestness, parody and speculation, each work in the exhibition (from different time frames and diverse cultural contexts) describes a search for the spirit undertaken within the ambiguity and problematic of everyday life.
Search for the Sprit is a chapter of a larger exhibition entitled ‘All that is solid melts into air’ programmed by the Museum van Hedendaagse Kunst Antwerpen (MuHKA) as part the City Visions Festival (Mechelen) organised by MMMechelen.
Cornelius Cardew: Play For Today / 2009
Exhibition display Painted and clear sheets of glass, painted wooden brackets Curated by Grant Watson The Drawing Room, London Photo: Andy Keate
View of the installation with Cornelius Cardew's blueprint for Treatise (1963-67) on clear glass shelves, and diagrams, visual instructions, notes, and letters, on coloured glass shelves.
It's Not For Reading. It's For Making / 2009
Bookshelves MDF Curated by Caterina Riva, Pieternel Vermoortel Form Content, London
Disobedience / 2008
Curated by Marco Scotini Nottingham Contemporary
Luca Frei created Untitled (Interferences), an arresting installation-cum display system for the Disobedience archive in Nottingham. Set in a former shop, with floor to ceiling windows running through the length of the premises, the installation was directly visible from the street, complicating its environment of consumer outlets and administrative facilities. A series of large black cubes, around seven feet in height, the installation alludes to Minimalism, but their apparently random positioning evokes the barricades and disorder of political tumult.
"I am interested in how space affects our movements, our thinking and our social dynamics, and at the same time, how our social dynamics and movements can affect a space... For the Disobedience archive I decided to organise – or disorganise – six cubes, reflecting the six sections of the archive. You cannot enter the cubes; they are painted black and positioned as if they are moving across the space. The ideas was to propose some elements that felt like they were occupying the room and passing through it somehow. Every time I do a work like this it is always a process of negotiation because you have to relate to a specific city, to existing material, and an existing space... That you cannot enter the cubes is very important because it makes them less like a house or home, less like an inhabitable space, and more like physical bodies. And the colour is important. If they had been painted white they would have been more museum-like; because they are black they are perceived in a different way. They become like actors in the space together with the work presented." Luca Frei, in conversation, Nottingham 3 May 2008