Have you ever stopped to look at an object that intrigued you, without knowing what it was for, impelled only by its aesthetic attraction? It’s something that has often happened to Robert Stadler, and it has led him to question, as a designer, the meaning of form and its visual, sensorial and emotional impact, beyond any functional considerations. “There are certain multi-layered objects whose different characteristics you only discover progressively. They camouflage and hide their function, which allows them to reach the status of a thing,” he explains. It’s an observation that motivated some of his own pieces, which are deliberately situated somewhere between the rationalism of design and the subjectivity of art.
Having compiled an inventory of “apparitions” which resist the classic typologies of sculpture, he decided to put on an exhibition. Working with a selection of around 60 works – including such diverse creators as Pierre Charpin, Aaron Curry, SuperStudio and Blair Thurman – he arranged them, without the slightest hierarchy, in a way that questions the viewer’s perception and judgment. “Be aware, this exhibition isn’t about the dialogue between art and design,” he warns. “It’s about finding a way of going beyond that relationship. I wanted to talk to an expert in contemporary art with respect to the choice of works. Alexis Vaillant, a curator who I contacted, was immediately enthusiastic about the approach, adding to the selection and enriching it.”
The exhibition is called QUIZ 2 because there was a first QUIZ in 2014, in Nancy, at the Salle Poirel, where Stadler created a public artwork that embodied just this duality. “The experience of this first exhibition allowed me to validate certain choices, and to finesse the presentation of the exhibition in Luxembourg this spring,” he explains. Stadler devised a relatively simple scenography that lets the objects speak for themselves – an all-blue environment that gives the impression that they’re floating. “Once again, we’re playing with a double notion: it’s a colour that makes you think not only of blue-screen video techniques, but also of the shade of blue that is by far the most present on the internet.”
Rather than using the word “object” when referring to the pieces on display in the exhibition, Stadler and Vaillant prefer to talk about “things” so as to underline the deliberate ambivalence of these mysterious and rather strange forms. “The fact that all these forms are rather unsettling is something that’s totally fascinating. Experiencing a thing comes down to measuring what we don’t know about it, and not the reverse. It’s what the exhibition invites you to do,” concludes Vaillant.
QUIZ 2, On an idea from Robert Stadler,
Until May 22nd.
By Olivier Reneau
Check out our portolio of the Carpenters Workshop Gallery with Robert Stadler.