The Stranger Within by Studio Formafantasma
September 14-December 1, 2013 (note closing date!!)
Society’s ambivalent stances toward the “foreign” or “strange” are the theme that Studio Formafantasma (Simone Farresin, *1983 and Andrea Trimarchi, *1980) have chosen for their presentation The Stranger Within, to be held as MAK DESIGN SALON #02. For the second time, this series of MAK exhibitions will open up the Empire and Biedermeier atmosphere of the MAK Branch Geymüllerschlössel, to statements of contemporary design. In dialog with the stately home’s historical sub- stance, The Stranger Within introduces a total of seven interventions in space that deal with the paradox phenomena of yearning for distant places and Biedermeier-era coziness or homeliness that one can experience at the Geymüllerschlössel.
Formafantasma’s experimental object series react subtly to the fascination with the “exotic” that is reflected in the Geymüllerschlössel’s architecture. Indian and Arabian stylistic quotations in the façade ornamentation and the villa’s interior tell of that period’s predilection for the cultures of the Orient. “In a globalized world where the concept of the ‘exotic’ is losing its meaning, we invite the audience to take a closer look and, in questing after inspiration for the design of the present and the future, to turn their gazes both inward and back towards the past,” say the designers.
The central work The Stranger Within, Nodus Rug (2013) is a rug designed specifically for the Geymüllerschlössel’s Blue Salon in collaboration with the Italian producer Nodus. This piece, derived from the texture and coloration of the sur- rounding interior spaces, is reminiscent of an oversized mask and functions as a mystical metaphor of the foreign. Stood upright in the middle of the Salon, therug acts like a totem around which the other exhibits distribute themselves through the villa’s adjoining rooms. This textile work was made as a reference to the Jewish family of textile manufacturer Isidor Mautner, which owned the villa from 1888 to 1938 and was then forced to flee the country after the National So- cialists took power. The combination of this rug with objects made of inflated or hardened pig’s bladders, such as the Bladder Chandelier (2013), evoke associa- tions with folkloric Carnival traditions.
Mechanisms of colonial power structures and of present-day migration policy are addressed by the series of objects entitled Moulding Tradition (2009). Starting from Arabian-African influences on European ceramics production, Studio Formafantas makes reference to present-day migration flows from Africa to islands such as Lampedusa and reflects on themes such as national identity and racism. In a refer- ence to a traditional Sicilian genre of ceramics known as teste di moro, buoy-shaped vessels bear portraits of refugees.
The work series Botanica (2011) and Craftica (2012), which underwent further development for this MAK exhibition, deal with innovative material developments and their application. At the Geymüllerschlössel, these works—developed from animal or plant waste materials—find their counterparts in a bouquet of artificial flowers made entirely of butterfly wings from c. 1840. “Just as the Biedermeier era’s exploration of nature was accompanied by the Industrial Revolution, the present era of digital mo- dernity is accompanied by the search for alternative raw materials and production techniques as well as a new sensuousness inherent in the products themselves. Studio Formafantasma views itself as a materials laboratory of a new industrial era,” says Thomas Geisler, exhibition curator and collection curator of the MAK Design Collection.
For more information please visit: MAK, Austria
-listing posted by Joanne Molina