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10 years, 9 months ago
THE WORLD IS A STAGE WAITING TO BE DESIGNED – NUMEN/FOR USE
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'Biography' presents a wide selection of works from Elmgreen & Dragset's complex universe, including sculpture, performance and interactive installations. Works from the late 1990s onwards will be shown together with recent projects, ...
Photo Anders Sune Berg
perrotin.com

This year, at the City Theatre MGL in Ljubljana, Slovenia, spectators watch as a tripartite structure made of transparent plastic, water-soluble film (Polyvinyl alcohol film, PVA to be more specific) deconstructs in front of their eyes; thereby, the play Black Beast Sorrow reaches its culmination point. Earlier, in 2012, Kvadra manufacturing plant merchandises Revolver, a collapsible sofa that brings together the functions of seating and sleeping in a playful, easy-to-use manner.

Backing further away in time, in 2006, the headquarters of Österreich newspaper in Vienna, Austria receives a makeover which follows the principle “order out of chaos”. What do all of these have in common? Three innovative minds that carry a nostalgia for modernist intentions (“there are no rules”) and have the courage to play across the spectrum from serious mass-produced objects to experimentation with surprising materials.

numen3

photo numen.net

The journey began in 1998, when industrial designers Sven Jonke, Christoph Katzler and Nikola Radeljković started to create objects of predefined functions and immediate usage for big-name companies such as Cappellini, ClassiCon, Moroso or Zanotta. Their work developed under the name For Use (very short-spoken and catchy, considering they were mostly creating furniture).  One year later, the same three craftsmen grew out of the industrial conventions and entered the realm of experimental design. Thereby, Numen was established and was the designer’s identity when dealing with projects outside their incipient profession.

The lucky break came in 1999, when the group won the Grand Prix of the Zagreb Salon. From that point on, the designers became artists and their  work turned into a truly visionary art, expanding in fields such as installations, scenography, spatial design and video projections.

Revolve Producer: Kvadra / 2012 photo numen.net

Revolve
Producer: Kvadra / 2012
photo numen.net

photo archdaily.com

photo archdaily.com

When being confronted with such an outflow of art and objects, it is rather difficult to pinpoint the best ones (I, for one, stand in awe of everything they create), as Numen/For Use is not about promoting mere products, rather internalising the surrounding environment and creating new links between people.

In this manner are the installations Tape or Net, which have been presented across Europe in various locations. The projects consists of multiple layers of the assigned material suspended in the air in such an ingenious way that visitors are able to climb in and inhabit them. These “floating landscapes”, as they are seldom called, are surprisingly accessible, safe and carefully planned. Nothing (and nobody) is ever left to accident and the end result is a feeling of levitation and individual performance – because the works do not fulfill their function if people do not interact with them. Net was last exhibited earlier this year, between April and June in Berlin, Germany, while Tape made an appearance in November 2012 at the House of Contemporary art in Hasselt, Belgium.

Tape Installation, Odeon, Vienna, 2010 photo c-cyte.blogspot.ro

Tape Installation, Odeon, Vienna, 2010
photo c-cyte.blogspot.ro

photo archdaily.com

photo archdaily.com

Scenography is another area that places Numen/For Use on the map. Ever since they engaged in stage designing in 2004 with a project for Dante’s Inferno at the National Centre for Drama in Madrid, Spain, they have been intensively working with major theatre companies and transformed canonical stories in impressive visual performances – here I advert to Cinderella (City Theatre Tresnja, Zagreb, Croatia 2006), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Gavella Drama Theatre, Zagreb, Croatia 2008), Medea (Festival Internacional de Teatro Clasico de Merida, Spain 2009), War and Peace (Croatian National Theatre, Zagreb, Croatia 2011), Dangerous Liasons (Harbiye Muhsin Ertuğrul Sahnesi Theatre, Instabul, Turkey 2011).

Suffice it to say that Numen/For Use is here to stay in the long run while the public waits eagerly to see what is going to be their next mise-en-scène.

Inferno / Divine Comedy National Theatre Maria Guerrero photo metalocus.es

Inferno / Divine Comedy National Theatre Maria Guerrero
photo metalocus.es

by Cristiana Șerbănescu

Cristiana Șerbănescu is allergic to describing herself to the public. The one thing she is sure of is that she wants to come to terms with her own artistic differences. She is now attempting to INHALE.

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