micro-architecture and the ghost of artworks past – atelier 37.2

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installation, sculpture

Atelier 37.2, 'The Space of Art', MAK Museum, Vienna. Images courtesy of Nicolas Guiraud

The French ‘micro-architecture’ firm Atelier 37.2 created an original installation for Vienna’s MAK Museum, entitled The Space of Art. Using old transport crates that once transported works from the Museum’s impressive collection of contemporary art, Atelier 37.2 transformed these into compartments for visitors to enter, lie in and even nap in!

With the names of renowned international artists stamped on the sides of these crates, the installation oozes a conceptual charm that makes us consider the life of the artwork when not hung on the gallery wall or mounted on the pedestal. It recalls the mystical value we attach to artworks – to famous names in particular – and the instrumental role of the museum in giving these names status and value. The empty crates are the ghosts of the artworks they once contained, and therefore retain a figment of this value themselves. Brandished with ‘Donald Judd’, ‘Anish Kapoor’ or ‘Jenny Holzer’, this installation is a sort of dream-team exhibition, bringing together an illustrious set of artists that would make for a true blockbuster exhibition.

The crates are no longer de-functionalised, but are instead put to use in the gallery space in which they were never designed to inhabit, replacing the actual artwork they would store as the main attraction. Ranging in scale, the crates have steps leading up to them and are filled with packing peanuts and pillows, allowing visitors to climb up and enter into them, transforming them into makeshift sofas or beds. They are given a new purpose and make for an interactive museum experience, asking visitors to engage with the space and ‘artworks’.

‘We like the idea of an installation combining various layers of significations together with a playful and ephemera geography of art (instead of a history). To suggest unlikely encounters between artists, artworks (both invisible) and the public. The space of art is working with the enigma related to each artist and its work,’ says Atelier 37.2.

Atelier 37.2 has inverted the Museum space, making us look at what is normally hidden and asking us to interact in a new way with the gallery, and to therefore think about the value we attach to artworks and to names. The Space of Art successfully highlights the role of the museum in this process of assigning selective value, but also of the viewer, who by visiting the gallery and looking at (but not touching) the artwork, participates in this ritual.

‘Through its very familiarity a large part of our daily life remains invisible to us, compromising our ability to see and feel anything significant,’ argues Atelier 37.2. ‘Our approach consists of creating and applying spatial layouts that provoke a shift in our everyday perception. Through a minimal language, raw and subtle at the same time, we create space within space.’

And here it is in action:

This was taken from my post over at BAREFACE MAGAZINE – check it out for more images of the installation.

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Blogging about art, architecture and design that tickle my fancy.

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