All good things deserve a second life. This includes, as the re-opening of Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) last weekend shows, everyday objects and civic architecture. The recently renovated museum now sits in midtown Manhattan, on the southern edge of 2 Columbus Circle – a public space that has recently experience a renaissance of sorts with new open space planning and green plantings. A testimony to the power of reinvention, inaugural exhibit Second Lives: Remixing the Ordinary examines the re-purposing of the everyday and random flotsam in our lives. From used shopping bags to old record collections to plastic spoons and forks, this exhibit demonstrates that perception goes a long way in jump-starting innovative recycling.
Second Lives: Remixing the Ordinary highlights the work of established and emerging artists from all five continents- each with a mission to create objects and scenarios that propose clever takes on upcycling or simply display surreal juxtapositions. A wide variety of the materials are intended for other functional purposes, but in Second Lives the objects take on new poetic meaning via the artful craftiness of the participants.
The exhibition includes works by designers, Ingo Maurer, Tejo Remy, and the Campana Brothers as well as internationally recognized artists, Tara Donovan, Xu Bing, El Anatsui, Susie MacMurray, Courtney Smith, and Do Ho Suh. MAD Curators David Revere McFadden and Lowery Stokes Sims make a point to break down the usual hierarchies between art, craft, and design – a trend that is reflective of a new attitude that tends to classify ‘things’ in this era of global consumerism.
When else might yellow rubber washing gloves co-exist with high-heeled shoes, stalagmite stacks of clear plastic buttons, and couture-tailored jackets sewn from military dog tags? Second Lives strives to broaden definitions and ideas about beauty, function, and overall necessity in everyday objects. Using a wide variety of mediums, the exhibit is a fascinating exploration on just how crafty we might need get in order to reduce the waste in our lives
Second Lives: Remixing the Ordinary is on the view at the Museum of Arts and Design from September 27, 2008 – February 15, 2009. Visit the museum’s website to learn more about Allied Works Architecture’s designs for the museum and its amazing glazed terra cotta exterior.
Tara Donovan’s Bluffs, 2007 – buttons, glue (courtesy of PaceWildenstein, New York; photo: Kerry Ryan McFate) and Courtney Smith’s Psichê Complexo, 2003 – 1 armoire, 1 vanity table, 1 stool with cushion, 2 side table/cabinets, hinges and other hardware
Jean Shin’s Soundwave (detail), 2007 – melted records on wooden armature; Do Ho Suh Metal Jacket, 1992-2001 – 3,000 dog tags on U.S. military jacket fabric liner (photo: courtesy of the artist; Lehmann Maupin Gallery, New York)