May 5 until June 5, 2006
Underdogs & überprodukte by designer Maarten Baas and theatre maker Joris van Midde is all about non-verbal communication. In this thirty-day project in MU, Baas and Van Midde will bring to life a whole series of furniture. Every Friday evening, the pieces of furniture are being transformed into characters in an ever-livelier performance. These performances will be filmed and the recordings incorporated into the exhibition.
Humankind is so busy communicating oral messages. Yet, eighty percent of what we’re ‘saying’ is non-verbal in nature, only a mere twenty percent is verbal. According to Maarten Baas, there’s a lot we could communicate without producing speech. Perhaps even without moving, just standing still in one posture.
The step to the non-verbal communication of the things around us is quickly made. “We’re surrounding us with products that can in general just assume one position: the position devised by the designer. Most pieces of furniture emanate power: sturdy, strong, symmetrical, and sleek. When you look at furniture in that way, most pieces of furniture could be described as a kind of ‘Überprodukte’. Probably, that’s what sells best...”
But do we really want to be surrounded by this kind of furniture, asks Baas. “There must be different kinds of furniture. Where is the sweet furniture? The sad furniture? The cheerful furniture? The underdogs? What would happen if the shapes of furniture would no longer be static but moveable? What if they could speak? What would they want to communicate?”
With this notion of ‘body language’ in mind, Maarten Baas wants to investigate what furniture would have told us, if they’d been able to communicate with us. What emotions are locked up in what shapes.
Baas has selected a series of emotionally charged pieces of furniture, which he will bring to life in partnership with director and performer Joris van Midde of De Kwekerij Theaterproducties. Van Midde produces performances in which actors, dancers and musicians link very diverse emotions and characters to the furniture Baas selected. From static objects and stage props, the pieces of furniture become actors in a play that will continue to develop on five Friday evenings in a row.
The film recordings will be incorporated in the exhibition, creating an ever-growing pile-up of scenes. Not one single piece of furniture remains untouched or without character or force.
Once you’ve attended these performances, you’ll never look at a chair or stool, table or cupboard in the same way again.
Maarten Baas (1978) graduated from the Design Academy in 2002 with an eye-popping project: a burnt armchair and a chandelier finished of with a protective epoxy coating to get them ready for a new lease of life. Everyone fell in love with the scorched beauty of ‘Smoke’. Ever since, Maarten Baas is hot. He has had exhibitions from Milan to Tokyo and from New York to Paris.
Joris van Midde (1969) has been active for some years now on the fringes of what is called theatre. In a mix of performance, dance, music, and video, De Kwekerij is constantly searching for a new form in which the location plays a vital role. De Kwekerij has a taste for a dark and dismal atmosphere. Often vicious or somewhat morbid, but sombre, no, never.