Haim Steinbach – Once Again the World Is Flat and Martino Gamper – Design Is a State of Mind at the Serpentine Sackler Gallery
The Serpentine Galleries currently plays host to two interesting new exhibitions, curated by the artists Haim Steinbach and Martino Gamper. The overriding theme that unites the two exhibits explores the act of collecting and the displaying of one’s collected objects.
The American Haim Steinbach’s Once Again the World Is Flat is a sort of retrospective of the artist’s oeuvre, ranging from his classically minimalist canvases of the early 1970s – featuring coloured lines or strips that are optically animated musically by way of the symbiosis of mutually accentuated hues – to his collages made up of pieces of linoleum printed to resemble expensive stone or marble. His dadaesque pieces of curious shelves upon which have been perched all manner of objects and “mundane” bric-à-brac also feature.
Similar to Andy Warhol’s immortalisation of a can of Campbell’s soup, Steinbach has placed a can of Ajax cleanser on a shelf made of cut tree branches. On another shelf covered in fragments of children’s Spiderman masks stands a kitschy figurine of little orphan Annie. For this particular installation, Steinbach has welcomed the participation of the general public, who have donated fancy salt and pepper shakers all lined up in pairs, magnified and out of context – a testament to our natural inclination to collect things and arrange them according to personal tastes.
Italian avant-garde furniture designer Martino Gamper has created an installation that runs along similar themes. His Design Is a State of Mind is an exhibition of a series of bookcases by himself and an array of manufacturers and designers that date from the 1930s onwards. On the shelves he has arranged an assortment of objects borrowed from friends – among other things they include collections of building bricks or wooden spoons amassed from voyages in various parts of the world. Books on art or attractive glass paperweights displayed upon basic wooden IKEA furniture, or post-modern creations made up of an eclectic mix of incongruous materials that allude to the fact that collections are not only characteristic of museums and galleries, but are a common phenomenon in our everyday lives – everybody is a “curator” of their own private collection of choice objects at home.
In this way, the twinned exhibitions currently on display until the end of April at the Serpentine may find an appreciative audience even among those members of the public that might not normally frequent art or design museums.
Photos: Rosie Yang
Haim Steinbach and Martino Gamper are showing at the Serpentine Galleries from 5th March to 21st April 2014, for further information visit here.