Design by Performance at Z33 – Performing space

Design by Performance at Z33 in Hasselt – First part

Final chapter of my report from the exhibition Design by Performance at Z33 in Hasselt. With only two works this time but i didn’t want them to get loss in the merciless flow of images and information that was yesterday’s post.

Performances are a staple of contemporary art since the ’60s. Performances by designers, however, are a new phenomenon that Z33’s ongoing exhibition is trying to formulate and bring into the spotlight. Design by Performance showcases performative trends in contemporary design, which focuses not on the production of a finished product, but on the production process itself: objects whose realisation is a continuous project, affected or formed by either the environment, the specific situation in which they find themselves, or onlookers. 26 works are distributed over 4 sections. The one titled Performing space extends the theme of the show to architecture. Architects are indeed increasingly interested in activating the spaces they are designing. Lawrence Malstaf and Laurent Liefooghe’s works interact with both the gallery space and the visitors.

4621199192_da281906b9_o.jpgLaurent Liefooghe, Woonmachine, 2010. © photo: Laurent Liefooghe

Commissioned by Z33 to architect Laurent Liefooghe, The Woonmachine (Machine for Living) is both as a theatre box and a fully-equipped dwelling. Although it is a fully functional house, the living machine is built to have the act of living be performed in it, not to actually be lived in. Whether its inhabitant lives there or not, the house goes on living its own life, opening up the blinds, making coffee and switching on the light in the kitchen when the morning has come, going completely silent, shut and dark in the evening, etc. According to the time of the day, the walls become transparent, opaque or reflective. The relation between inside and outside evolves accordingly: the spectator who moves inside and outside of the box is at time seeing himself, looking at others who become performers in a scene, or becoming a player to others, etc.

4621199020_5b39541be0_o.jpgLaurent Liefooghe, Woonmachine. © photo: Laurent Liefooghe

4620588687_708dfa2475_o.jpgLaurent Liefooghe, Woonmachine. © photo: Laurent Liefooghe

4621198542_e4bfdbea12_o.jpgLaurent Liefooghe, Woonmachine. © photo: Laurent Liefooghe

The Woonmachine nods to this ultra modern contemporary way of living in which the act of living is seen as a function (or a sum of functions) which can be rationalised. The Woonmachine is a mix between a modernistic glass house, an Ikea showroom, analogue 3D cinema, and a haunted house.

4620810563_034425069e_b.jpgLawrence Malstaf, Nevel. © Z33, photo by Kristof Vrancken

The presence of one of artist Lawrence Malstaf‘s installations in the show proves how little Z33 cares about imposing stiff boundaries between art and experimental design. Nevel is a moving architecture, its lightening subtly changes and its walls open and close before you, trapping you inside a labyrinth, forcing you to become part of the work and eventually releasing you from it. After the labyrinth visitors are enticed to cross a path over water while fans dangling on a rope swing on their right and left.

4621420552_1d33790d2e_b.jpgLawrence Malstaf, Nevel. © Z33, photo by Kristof Vrancken

4620811321_13b596a653_b.jpgLawrence Malstaf, Nevel. © Z33, photo by Kristof Vrancken

A few upcoming events accompanying the exhibition: on May 27 and 28 screening of Helvetica by Gary Hustwit, 2007. May 28-30 live performance “Learning While Performing, Performing While Learning” by Martino Gamper and on the 29th, worshops and live intervention by Edhv and Unfold.

Download the exhibition guide, it starts with the text in dutch and ends with the english version.
Z33 has some videos as well as a photo collection about the exhibition. I’ve taken the usual miserable pictures.

Design by Performance opens until May 30, at Z33 in Hasselt, Belgium.