TABLEAU's 'Confessions' addresses the silent crisis in male mental health

Confessions by male creatives take form of a chair, cabinet, a vase, or a mirror in this showcase curated by Danish studio TABLEAU and Post Service clinic.

by Zohra KhanPublished on : Jun 14, 2022

Danish studio TABLEAU collaborated with therapeutic clinic Post Service in an exhibition that explores issues of "toxic masculinity, an inherently female zeitgeist, and the need for a critical examination of the nature of mental health services". Putting a spotlight on male mental health, the showcase hosted at the Alcova in Inganni district during Milan Design Week brings together creatives from the discipline of architecture, design, and art to interpret their own personal confessions in the form of an object. Speaking of the curatorial idea and the collaboration with Post Service, Julius Værnes Iversen, Creative Director at TABLEAU shares, "We have asked 14 artists to produce a functional piece of art in shape of a confession in order to open up a discussion with the public on how we can shape our way of addressing the male mental health in a more open cause of action. […] We teamed up with Post Service since the owner and founder, Xanthippi de Vito, has a specialty with knowledge in mentality. She addresses our way of using therapy in a very modern direction by using art and design as a part of her practice." In this “only male-exhibition”, participating creatives channel their emotions into forms that reveal experimental materiality and sculptural compositions.

Here are a few works whose intriguing forms and narratives caught our eye.

1. “A beating engine suffocated possibly by toxic masculinity...”
Nascar Realness by Jacob Egeberg 

  • A glimpse from the exhibition, Confessions curated by TABLEAU and Post Service | Confessions | Milan Design Week | STIRworld
    Nascar Realness by Jacob Egeberg Image: Piercarlo Quecchia + DSL Studio
  • The development of Nascar Realness in the studio | Confessions | Milan Design Week | STIRworld
    The development of Nascar Realness in the studio Image: Courtesy of Jacob Egeberg
  • A closer look at the lighting feature of the chandelier | Confessions | Milan Design Week | STIRworld
    A closer look at the lighting feature of the chandelier Image: Piercarlo Quecchia + DSL Studio
  • Concept sketch | Confessions | Milan Design Week | STIRworld
    Concept sketch Image: Courtesy of Jacob Egeberg

A mammoth silver painted chandelier hangs down from the ceiling of Alcova, a seemingly alien entity described by its creator - Copenhagen-based designer Jacob Mathias Egeberg - as "an elegant object of desire, a measure of success, or simply another car crush." For Jacob, the object represents a backseat confession of experiencing a long journey of false self-confidence and betting one's identity on car culture. Molded in 3D and milled with a CNC machine before application of Polyurea and a final layer of high gloss automotive paint, the chandelier features a moving pattern of illumination that gives it a unique edge.

2. "I started searching for a “happy” object. Maybe an object that actually tells you that you are doing well, and how good you are. That is why it eventually became a trophy…”
I Didn’t Do Enough by William van Hooff 

  • Concept sketch | Confessions | Milan Design Week | STIRworld
    Concept sketch Image: Piercarlo Quecchia + DSL Studio
  • A closer look at the letters on the vessel | Confessions | Milan Design Week | STIRworld
    A closer look at the letters on the vessel Image: Piercarlo Quecchia + DSL Studio

In this piece of work, Dutch artist William van Hooff responded to the persistent nagging voice in his head which tells him that he is not good enough or doing enough. The outer surface of the ceramic vessel in the shape of a trophy has the words "I Didn’t Do Enough" written on it. It expresses the artist’s acceptance of his own negative feelings and learning how to control them. "I am sure several people have experienced this little voice, it’s a little demon that tells you you're not good enough. He can tell me perfectly what I am not doing right, but he forgets to tell me when I am actually doing something good," William tells STIR. For the outer surface of this ceramic piece, he chose white high glossy glaze mixed with sand. The treatment of the letters, however, sees an additional two-layered glaze which according to William gives an effect like the letters have started to cry. "It's a way to express the dark feelings that I get when listening to these emotions," he adds.

3. “Either if you are happy, insecure or sad – :S is here to remind you that everything is going to be a-ok!” 
:S by Lab Bla Bla

  • :S by Lab La Bla | Confessions | Milan Design Week | STIRworld
    :S by Lab La Bla Image: Piercarlo Quecchia + DSL Studio
  • Conceptual sketch | Confessions | Milan Design Week | STIRworld
    Conceptual sketch Image: Courtesy of Lab La Bla

For childhood friends Axel Landström and Victor Isaksson of Swedish research-led practice LAB LA BLA, a memory from last summer became the springboard to conceptualise :S – a shifting emotion frozen in a mirror expressing the duality of our lives. The artwork reminisces the time when Victor was diagnosed with a panic disorder that left him confused in understanding his own genuine feelings, especially when he was with people.“ :S is a confession and celebration to the many faces we dress up in to cover up our crooked senses of selves," Victor shared with STIR. Developed in collaboration with German art manufacturer Derix Glasstudios, the art piece was created using a centuries old three-layered technique comprising flashing, lacquer, and mirrorising a sheet of mouth blown glass, traditionally used as stained glass in churches and cathedrals. Victor adds, “The movement, bubbles and ripples contained in :S are traces of the artisans' spontaneous gestures from working and blowing the hot glass. These handmade characteristics make the glass come to life in a way that can’t be replicated by any machine driven processes.”

4. "The transparency, the status, and the aesthetic between comfort and uncomfort is for me an ode to revelation, self-learning and relaxation.”
After, Vice cachéby Arnaud Eubelen

  • After chair| Confessions | Milan Design Week | STIRworld
    After chair by Arnaud Eubelen Image: Piercarlo Quecchia + DSL Studio
  • Vice caché | Confessions | Milan Design Week | STIRworld
    Vice caché cabinet by Arnaud EubelenImage: Piercarlo Quecchia + DSL Studio

A long seat and a cabinet are conceived as tools for a confession by German designer, Arnaud Eubelen. He created the After chair and Vice caché cabinet as objects of self-reflection where "everything is seen, everything is understood, and nothing is hidden behind a layer of paint". In the design of the chair, his aim was to evoke a sense of comfort through an unconventional materiality - he used a transparent PVC sheet for the seating surface in the hope to play with the mechanical structure that holds the body. "This reinterpretation of the symbolic psychiatric long seat is actually more of a tool for confession rather than a confession in itself," he tells STIR. Speaking of the little Vice caché shelf, the piece is made to hide things in a semi closed space and protect it from our desire of taking it. Featuring pieces of colourful broken glass on the shelf’s door made of aluminium rods, the work according to Arnaud, is expressive of protection, hurting, hiding, and a longing to seek the truth.

5. "The narrative is my confession to how I am not being there for myself and how it makes me feel like a failure."
Enter the Dungeon by Esben Kaldahl

Enter the Dungeon by Esben Kaldahl | Confessions | Milan Design Week | STIRworld
Enter the Dungeon by Esben Kaldahl Image: Piercarlo Quecchia + DSL Studio

Copenhagen-based artist Esben Kaldahl created artefacts that reflected different aspects of his own tendency to take escape in fantasies and fairylands when life gets tough. For this exhibition, Esben presented a sword, a mirror, and an armour sculpted in aluminium castings and hand glazed ceramic. “The artefacts,” he tells STIR, “are general reminders to the escapist in all of us to be vulnerable with oneself, to “enter the dungeon” so to speak and face our own darkness — not with sharpened blades and polished armour, but with an openness to whatever resides in the depths." He concludes, “The ambiguity of materials is a big part of my practice and I believe that the most interesting objects are the ones that can hold several meanings.”

STIR takes you on a Milanese sojourn! Experience Salone del Mobile and all the design districts - 5vie, Brera, Fuorisalone, Isola, Zona Tortona, and Durini - with us. STIR’s coverage of Milan Design Week 2022, Meanwhile in Milan showcases the best exhibits, moods, studios, events, and folks to look out for. We are also excited to announce our very own STIR press booth at Salone del Mobile - Hall 5/7 S.14, Fiera Milano RHO.

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