Swiss Institute announces the inaugural edition of its Annual Design Series, an exhibition curated by renowned Greek-Norwegian architect Andreas Angelidakis entitled Fin de Siècle. A curatorial homage to Eugène Ionesco’s 1952 absurdist play “The Chairs,” the exhibition will include an eclectic array of late 20th century design pieces sourced from museum and private collections. Presented in an immersive mise-en-scène, this unique selection of chairs resonates with the drama of Ionesco’s tragic farce, 20 years after the celebrated avant-garde playwright’s passing.The exhibiton will include pieces by Martine Boileau, Mario Botta, Andrea Branzi, Marcel Breuer, Nacho Carbonell, Oswald Dubach, H.R. Giger, Pierre Jeanneret, Charles-Edouard Jeanneret (Le Corbusier), Reto Kaufmann, Wilhelm Kienzle, Gian Franco Legler, Frédéric Levrat, Alessandro Mendini, NN, Paolo Palucco, Charlotte Perriand, Gaetano Pesce, Ugo La Pietra, Bruno Rey, Alfred Roth, Peter Shire, team form ag, Kurt Thut, Peter Truog, Robert Venturi, Lawrence Weiner, and Armin Wirth.
In “The Chairs,” an elderly couple recounts the demise of civilization to a stage full of empty chairs. Absent of any sitters, the audience is left to imagine the invisible figures that the increasingly incoherent Old Man and Old Woman address. In Fin de Siècle, the chairs themselves speak asynchronously, cast as characters and imbued with life. Directed into small vignettes of imagined conversations and actions that transcend periods and design movements, their dialogue echoes the modernist promise fading away.
Curator Andreas Angelidakis writes: “In our current moment of plurality and infinite flux, these objects from the past era of grand movements are juxtaposed with one another. Let us contemplate their inaudible conversations."
Highlights include seminal innovations in mass production by Marcel Breuer, Le Corbusier, and Armin Wirth; experiments in utopian design by Pierre Jeanneret; imaginative creations that extend reality by H.R. Giger and Alessandro Mendini; and whimsical splashes of color by Robert Venturi and Peter Shire.
Swiss Institute thanks the lenders to the exhibition, Vitra Design Museum and Dennis Freedman.
SWISS INSTITUTE PROGRAMMING IS MADE POSSIBLE WITH PUBLIC FUNDS FROM PRO HELVETIA, SWISS ARTS COUNCIL, AND IN PART BY PUBLIC FUNDS FROM THE NEW YORK CITY DEPARTMENT OF CULTURAL AFFAIRS AND THE NEW YORK STATE COUNCIL ON THE ARTS, WITH THE SUPPORT OF GOVERNOR ANDREW CUOMO AND THE NEW YORK STATE LEGISLATURE. MAIN SPONSORS INCLUDE LUMA FOUNDATION, FRIENDS OF THE SWISS INSTITUTE (FOSI), AND UBS. SWISS INSTITUTE GRATEFULLY ACKNOWLEDGES USM MODULAR FURNITURE AS SPONSOR OF THE 2014 ANNUAL DESIGN SERIES, SWISS AS TRAVEL PARTNER, AND CHELSEA HOTELS AS HOSPITALITY PARTNER. THANKS TO PRÉSENCE SUISSE FOR PUBLICATION SUPPORT. ADDITIONAL SUPPORT FOR THIS EXHIBITION AND PUBLIC PROGRAMS GENEROUSLY PROVIDED BY YABU PUSHELBERG AND THE ROYAL NORWEGIAN CONSULATE GENERAL, NEW YORK. MEDIA SPONSPORS: PIN-UP, SURFACE.
All photos courtesy of Swiss Institute.