TOUR DU MONDE. Bicycle Stories
June 14, 2013–October 6, 2013
With its presentation of over 40 iconic bicycles from the 20th and 21st centuries, TOUR DU MONDE. Bicycle Stories tells of the quality and diversity of the design-related thought that has gone into this classic mode of transportation. Amidst rising awareness of sustainability issues and oft-heated debates on mobility in metropolitan areas, this time-tested mode of individual transportation is currently experiencing a renaissance and becoming more and more the trendy symbol of an urban lifestyle. Examples from the renowned collection of Viennese architect Michael Embacher will guide visitors on a journey through the history of the bicycle as a cult object; at the same time, the bicycle’s successively transformed technology and shaping allow one to trace the recent history of innovation and design in general.
The EMBACHER-COLLECTION®, established in 2003, includes over 210 standard production models, one-of-a-kind creations, and curiosities ranging from children’s bikes to athletic and leisure bikes, utility bikes and folding models. These masterpieces of design and engineering, which are normally housed in a Viennese attic and not accessible to the public, serve Michael Embacher both as sources of inspiration and as objects of daily use. Embacher has now developed an installation for these vehicles’ public presentation in the MAK Exhibition Hall.
The rarities to be shown in TOUR DU MONDE include one-of-a-kind models by the Moulton Bicycle Company as well as a Diagonale by French maker René Herse, the “Rolls Royce” of bicycle manufacturers, and also curiosities like the all-plastic bike Wilhelmina Plast by Sweden’s Itera and the all-wheel-drive Subaru 2WD Dual Power, developed by the Austrians Günter Kappacher and Paul Pollanka. High-performance bicycles that have written athletic history, such as the Textima Time Trial used by the national team of the former GDR, the Schauff Aero and the carbon-monocoque Bianchi C-4 Pista, are further highlights of this showing.
The bicycle has long since gone beyond being just a clever mode of transportation to become a fashion and lifestyle statement. While the motivating factors behind Karl Drais’s original invention of the Laufmaschine [walking machine] were rising oat prices and the increasing cost of horse-drawn vehicles, today it is the rising cost of liquid fuels and the questionable nature of using automobiles for local trips, as well as the joy of healthy exercise, that are moving more and more city dwellers to switch to more environmentally conscious modes of transportation.
Embacher shares his enthusiasm for this “intelligent product” with numerous colleagues. Architects and designers such as Ron Arad, Richard Sapper, Marc Newson, and James Dyson make out a hero in the recently deceased British engineer and bicycle builder Alex Moulton, who also developed the rubber suspension system used by the legendary original Morris Mini. In the same way that the revolutionary pieces of steel-tube furniture by Bauhaus artists Mart Stam, Marcel Breuer, and Mies van der Rohe were once realized with components made by Italian bicycle manufacturer A. L. Colombo, the use of design principles and individual technical solutions from bicycle technology in a transdisciplinary manner remains a viable option today. No wonder, then, that enthusiasm for bicycling runs especially high among creative professionals; more than a few of them move about town on custom or vintage models of their own.
A central aspect of TOUR DU MONDE is the narrative conveying the stories that dwell within the objects themselves. iPad stations featuring the award-winning app Cyclopedia, developed by Heuristic Media in collaboration with Thames & Hudson, will be available to complement the collection catalogue. This app contains 126 bicycles of the EMBACHER-COLLECTION® and allows chronological and technical cross-referencing between the objects and their stories.
Cycling makes for a better quality of life, asserts the musician, all-round artist, and bicycle activist David Byrne. In his book Bicycle Diaries, he describes the bicycle as a “machine of perception” that permits sensory experience and a direct relationship with one’s environment and with society. Byrne’s cycling experiences on concert tours in nine metropolises, including New York, Berlin, Istanbul, and Manila, accompany TOUR DU MONDE as a subtext of sorts, though the chapter on Vienna has yet to be written.
TOUR DU MONDE. Bicycle Stories, an exhibition of the MAK with support from the City of Vienna, will open as the MAK’s contribution to Velo-City 2013: The Sound of Cycling – Urban Cycling Cultures (velo-city2013.com, 11–14 June 3013), the world’s largest bicycle conference, held as part of Vienna Bicycle Week (10–16 June 2013) and as the highlight of city’s Bicycle Year (radjahr2013.at). Around the same time, the Portland Art Museum in the United States, and a bit later the Holon Design Museum in Israel, will also be showing selections from the EMBACHER-COLLECTION®.
This exhibition will be accompanied by an extensive supporting program that includes workshops, talks, and special offers for kids and families. During the exhibition’s run, selected entries to the departure idea competition Cycling Affairs – Smart Ideas for Cycling in the City will also be on exhibit (cycling.departure.at).
For more information please visit: The MAK Center
posted by Joanne Molina