Carpenters Workshop Gallery exhibits Dysfunctional at the Venice Biennale 2019
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Carpenters Workshop Gallery exhibits Dysfunctional at the Venice Biennale 2019

Lying at the intersection of art, design and architecture, Carpenters Workshop Gallery's exhibition Dysfunctional raises concerns about form versus function.

by Sukanya Garg Sep 21, 2019

Dysfunctional, an exhibition by the Carpenters Workshop Gallery in partnership with Lombard Odier, at the Venice Biennale 2019, lies at the intersection of art, design and architecture. Exhibiting over 50 works by 23 international artists, the works on display delve into the question of form versus function in a world where technological advancement is increasingly changing the landscape of art and design. Exhibited in the ‘ca’d’oro’, which houses artworks from the Baroque and Renaissance age, the contemporary works while in direct contrast to the architectural richness of the original space, create a sense of wonder and shock at times, stimulating a dialogue that raises pertinent concerns about history, technology, art, ecology and, most importantly, sustainability. In that sense, the exhibition disrupts the line of vision of the viewer from the conditioned sensibilities, making him or her question – what is art? What is art becoming? Can design be art? Can art not be functional? The juxtaposition between the historical and the modern, as presented in Dysfunctional, then blurs the categorisations between art and design.

Verhoeven Twins; Moments of Happiness; 2019; Borosilicate glass, robotic, iridescent oil effect (oven), hand UV glued; H57 l41 w41 cm / h22.4 l16.1 w16.1 in; Limited edition of 3 + 2 AP | Dysfunctional | STIR
Verhoeven Twins; Moments of Happiness; 2019; Borosilicate glass, robotic, iridescent oil effect (oven), hand UV glued; H57 l41 w41 cm / h22.4 l16.1 w16.1 in; Limited edition of 3 + 2 AP Image Credit: Courtesy of Carpenters Workshop Gallery

About the exhibition, Julien Lombrail and Loic Le Gaillard, co-founders of Carpenters Workshop Gallery, commented: “We decided to stage Dysfunctional during the world’s most important art exhibition, the Venice Art Biennale, to question what defines an artwork, why can artworks not be functional and when does design become art? The idea of dysfunction, defined as ‘the disruption of normal social relations’, invites visitors to rethink the conventional relationship between form and function, art and design, the historical and the modern. In partnership with Lombard Odier, with whom we share the same vision, we want to invite visitors to go on an immersive journey in time and explore the blurred lines between art and design in the context of the rich Venetian heritage.”

Nacho Carbonell; Under a Light Tree (136/2019); 2019; Corton steel, concrete, metal mesh with corkwall sprayed layers, light fittings; H280 l280 w100 cm / h111 l111 w40 in; Unique | Dysfunctional | STIR
Nacho Carbonell; Under a Light Tree (136/2019); 2019; Corton steel, concrete, metal mesh with corkwall sprayed layers, light fittings; H280 l280 w100 cm / h111 l111 w40 in; Unique Image Credit: Courtesy of Carpenters Workshop Gallery

The display within the culturally and historically infused Venetian setting presents a challenge of sorts to the artist. And yet, the participating artists have created works that inevitably draw the viewer in albeit the already rich architectural setting.

Studio Drift; Fragile Future Chandelier Venice Mantegna; 2019; Dandelion seed, phosphorus bronze, light fittings; H316 L241.6 W262 CM / H124.4 L95.1 W103.2 in; Unique | Dysfunctional | STIR
Studio Drift; Fragile Future Chandelier Venice Mantegna; 2019; Dandelion seed, phosphorus bronze, light fittings; H316 L241.6 W262 CM / H124.4 L95.1 W103.2 in; Unique Image Credit: Courtesy of Carpenters Workshop Gallery

Verhoeven Twins’s delicate iridescent bubbles in the work Moments of Happiness are not just symbolic of water bubbles, an ode to the city of Venice, but transport the viewer into a realm of fantasy as these forms reflect light across the room, creating an aura of luminescence, perhaps one that hints at a time pre-Anthropocene. Studio Drift’s work Fragile Futures III includes a chandelier made of real dandelion seeds attached to LEDs. Through the intersection of technology and nature, the artists behind the work question the future of our planet and whether technology itself might be the answer to achieve sustainability. Artist Maarten Bas’ work Real Time is a self-portrait referencing Leonardo da Vinci’s famous work Vitruvian Man made around 1490. Through the work, Bas raises questions about the passing of time and the journey from where we were to where we might be headed.

Mathieu Lehanneur; Ocean Memories / Acqua Alta Stool Ce; 2019; Costa esmeralda granite; H45 l150 w45 cm / h17.7 l59.1 w17.7 in; Limited edition of 8 + 4 AP | Dysfunctional | STIR
Mathieu Lehanneur; Ocean Memories / Acqua Alta Stool Ce; 2019; Costa esmeralda granite; H45 l150 w45 cm / h17.7 l59.1 w17.7 in; Limited edition of 8 + 4 AP Image Credit: Courtesy of Carpenters Workshop Gallery

The future is a consistent thread that runs through all the works, reflecting the most important concern of our times. Displayed in a city whose mention brings to mind the image of water, many of the works subtlety seek to bring attention to the uncertain future of this natural resource. Perhaps, then the dysfunctionality isn’t merely about the art, but rather what it reflects about our own behaviours.

Vincent Dubourg; Doors of Paradise; 2019; Terracotta, masonite, aluminium, metal, resin; H460 l470 w30 cm / h181.1 l185 w11.8 in; Unique | Dysfunctional | STIR
Vincent Dubourg; Doors of Paradise; 2019; Terracotta, masonite, aluminium, metal, resin; H460 l470 w30 cm / h181.1 l185 w11.8 in; Unique Image Credit: Courtesy of Carpenters Workshop Gallery

The exhibition is on display until November 24, 2019 as part of the Venice Biennale 2019.

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About Author

Sukanya Garg

Sukanya Garg

Garg is an artist and writer with a Masters degree in Public Policy from Duke University, USA. She has been involved in research, planning and execution of gallery exhibitions and external projects in collaboration with curators. Her writing has been published in several art magazines, journals and as part of curatorial notes and catalogues, and her work has been showcased in multiple exhibitions.

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