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Perspectives on in/outside

04.12.2010 – 02.01.2011

Curators: BONAVENTURE SOH BEJENG NDIKUNG, SIMONE KRAFT

Artists: LE VAN BO, PIERRE JUILLERAT

One of the many possibilities implemented to tackle the great economic, social and political cavity that arose in the aftermath of the First World War was an architectural intervention. This intervention witnessed all over Europe, including Russia and beyond came to its summit in a rather unlikely place and left – from today’s point of view – surprisingly numerous traces in Berlin-Neukölln. Armed with the ideology of the Neue Sachlichkeit/Neues Bauen, the diligence of the Chicago School and the philosophy of the Bauhaus Bruno Taut and Martin Wagner set-up to build a socio-architectural complex in the shape of a horseshoe that came to be known as the Hufeisensiedlung. This object which triumphed for its simplicity in form, reminiscent of the elementary principles of social, constructive and stylistic economy in architecture also went a long way to reflect Louis Henry Sullivan’s notion of form follows function; a concept that has guided architects, designers, artists and other conceptualists across the last century. Can this notion of form follows function be transposed from a creative to a social context? If one took Berlin-Neukölln as a case study of such a transposition, then the "form" could be on the one hand Neukölln's infrastructure, in the sense of the diverse architectural structures like the Hufeisensiedlung, the Gropiusstadt, Ernst Sagebiel’s Tempelhof airport, the family houses in Britz, the Böhmisches Dorf or the many mobile phone shops, Kebab bistros and cheap textile shops in the Karl-Marx-Straße (an irony of destiny that comes in mind when one thinks of the economic vibrancy). On the other hand, the "form" could also be its inhabitants from 160 nations, the numerous languages that are heard and the multitude of attires seen on the streets of Neukölln.

What then could be deduced as the “function” of this “form” described above? Maybe the artistic developments as seen in North-Neukölln or the numerous hip bars and cool cafés? But also Neukölln's reputation of having one of the highest percentages of unemployed i.e. Hartz IV-recipients, a high criminality rate, a raised school drop-out rate, and in general a lower class in this society?
The question that automatically comes in mind is how these forms link to this function, or are they completely unlinked? Are these forms thus a consequence of this function or vice versa? Or is a trial to interpret this notion in a social context a trial to articulate utopia? But if one were to deliberate on such issues, one needed a laboratory (at best a laboratory of form-ideas), architects, designers, artists who are interested in some core questions as to how we perceive or ignore the "forms" we have around us and how these might or might not play a role in our attitudes or social functioning. Also, it might be interesting to verify if these surface characteristics which make up the form of the society can be reflected in a pilot context of an exhibition, namely in a hybrid of art and (interior) design. This can only be done by turning things, i.e. the conventional concept of making art, architecture or design exhibitions inside out. It seemed most appropriate to invite Pierre Juillerat (1967, Switzerland) and Le Van Bo (19…, Laos), whose vitae varyingly show traces of turning things inside out, to research on these issues in the form of an exhibition.

In his works Pierre Juillerat explores a contemporary sphere of formalist and conceptual painting sometimes reminiscent to the likes of Bridget Riley or Josef Albers. As if bent on proving that there are no limits to colour combinations, Juillerat forces us to rethink our usual perception of what complementary is or can be, and thus harshly experimenting and extending on Goethe's “Theory of Colours” (Zur Farbenlehre), but also questioning the specific colours that reciprocally evoke each other in the eye. What is evident is the tension that exists in his works, but there is also enough space left for interpretations related to the natural or synthetic, to reality or abstraction, construction or de-construction. With a background in architecture, as a musician, a pilot and painter, Juillerat is versed with turning things inside out.
Le Van Bo on the other hand initiated an almost philanthropic design project based on the controversial socio-economic Hartz IV laws in Germany. In a time where all is based on the fast lane and on complexity, Bo resolved in a search for simplicity with brilliance. Starting up with a piece of wooden plank one can acquire from any building supplies store, he encourages people to build a self-made armchair, redolent of the Bauhaus classics, for 24 Euros, within 24 hours. Based on the idea that even those living on Hartz IV can afford for a timeless and quality design Bo dares to democratize the philosophy of quality and design by making the design instructions accessible to all on the internet and offering courses in adult education centres. He thereby questions the impression that good quality must be ostentatious and stretches the elitist constraints attached to art and design. Le Van Bo’s multi-laterality is reflected in his credentials; once upon a time a TV moderator, then Hip Hop artist, and now an architect and designer.

Perspectives on in/outside
Perspectives on in/outside is an allegory of changing positions i.e. viewing from different perspectives from within and from without. At the core are reflections Inside Out and Outside In. In its diverse usage, “to know something inside out” means to know something very thoroughly and to “turn something inside out” means to turn the inner surface of something outwards and thus change something utterly. With Inside Out the exhibition intends to lay bare something which might be considered intimate – a living space for all – and with Outside In a reflection of the public in the interior of the art space turned salon. Perspectives on in/outside thus strives at positioning itself as a hybrid project in thorough search by turning the inner surface of something outwards and vice versa. Some of the perspectives through which this exhibition will be seen are painting, installations, design, architecture, which boil down to investigating the social transposition of forms and their functionality. Complementary to this exhibition, a Hartz IV furniture workshop will be installed, wherein people will be invited to build up armchairs and take them along.