From 28 May to 28 August 2011, the Groninger Museum presents the exhibition Material World. Art, design, fashion. It shows work of eight artists, designers and fashion designers in whose work the use of materials as well as the experimental study of materials plays a major role. There are works on display by Pieke Bergmans, Nacho Carbonell, Iris van Herpen, Maartje Korstanje, Joris Laarman, Alon Levin, Karen Sargsyan and Marga Weimans. Many works have been made especially for this exhibition, and the Groninger Museum has managed to acquire the majority of them for its own collection.
The predominant role of the material manifests itself in unexpected and radical choices of material, as well as in new technologies used by the artists to create their work. At the same time, many works can be interpreted as a kind of playful investigation into the relationship that people have with objects and things, and into the symbolic meaning they attach to it. Each artist, and each work, expresses this in an entirely different way.
About the artists
Inspired objects play a role in the work of Pieke Bergmans. Bergmans has worked with especially blown shapes. With the light bulb as the ultimate example of domestic reliability, she has created a surrealist scene for the Groninger Museum, in which the usually predictable bulb suddenly seems to lead a life all of its own.
Inspiring objects is an important theme for Nacho Carbonell as well. He imagines objects as live organisms and designs pieces of furniture with hybrid shapes, which are reminiscent of animals, of cocoons, and nests to hide in. For the Groninger Museum, he has made three striking objects of papier-mâché by hand, which are intended as seats for two.
Craftsmanship, radical choices of material and a tremendous visual impact are characteristic of the work of fashion designer Iris van Herpen. The outfits shown in this exhibition are handmade and consist of innumerable leather strips that create an optimum sculptural effect.
The outside world, nature and the sea with all their secrets, and our relationship with them, are an important theme in Maartje Korstanje’s work. The fanciful biomorph sculptures of cardboard are mixed with other materials that she models with her own hands, and call forth associations of sea monsters or dredged up treasures.
With Limited, a series of vases, designer Joris Laarman visualizes the transitoriness of the serial production process and investigates our attitude towards concepts like unicity and mass production.
Alon Levin’s work refers to monuments, or ceremonial objects such as flags, banners or archives, in other words objects that are material manifestations of social organizational orders and that can be used to perform rituals to confirm those social structures.
Paper, a seemingly simple material, together with the simple technique of cutting, is at the basis of Karen Sargsyan’s work, of which the contrast between art and science is an important element. Sargsyan feels that for a good study of science, more is needed than pure rationality.
Fashion designer Marga Weimans has used 3D scanning and rapid prototyping for her collection Wonderland. These techniques are still fairly unusual in the world of fashion as yet. They can be used to scan, enlarge or scale down all sorts of forms. In addition they can be ‘printed’ into a tangible object.
The acquisitions from this exhibition are extremely varied and form an improvement for the collection of the Groninger Museum.