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DYSFUNCTIONAL opens in Venice and invites visitors to rethink boundaries between art and design
Installation view.

VENICE.- Presented by Carpenters Workshop Gallery in partnership with Lombard Odier, DYSFUNCTIONAL showcases new collectible design and artworks by 23 international artists. Breaking the boundaries between art and design, over 50 works seek to forget functionality whilst celebrating the power of artistic expression and extraordinary craftsmanship. Carpenters Workshop Gallery provides a platform for new site-specific works to complement the Renaissance and Baroque collection of baron Giorgio Franchetti which is on permanent display at the Ca’ d’Oro. Throughout the three-story palazzo, named after the gilt decorations which once adorned the façade, the sculptures are displayed to create a sense of wonder and discovery, celebrating the venue’s rich history.

Julien Lombrail and Loic Le Gaillard, co-founders of Carpenters Workshop Gallery, comment: “We decided to stage DYSFUNCTIONAL during the world’s most important art exhibition, the Venice Art Biennale, to question what defines an artwork, why can artworks not be functional and when does design become art? The idea of dysfunction, defined as ‘the disruption of normal social relations’, invites visitors to rethink the conventional relationship between form and function, art and design, the historical and the modern. In partnership with Lombard Odier, with whom we share the same vision, we want to invite visitors to go on an immersive journey in time and explore the blurred lines between art and design in the context of the rich Venetian heritage.”

Frédéric Rochat, Managing Partner and Co-Head of Private Clients at Lombard Odier, states: “The Carpenters Workshop Gallery partnership is a natural collaboration for Lombard Odier, given our shared approach as true “Rethinkers”. This exhibition successfully fuses art and design, displaying bespoke works of unique savoir-faire. Innovation and customisation are part of Lombard Odier’s identity, having consistently reinvented our business over seven generations and two centuries, to provide innovative and tailored advice to our clients in times of change.”

For the immersive boxing installation What Are We Fighting For? (2019) in the palazzo’s garden, Michele Lamy has invited artists to create punch bags to initiate a conversation about what we need to face, challenge and celebrate in our lives. The Campana Brothers raise awareness for nature and sustainability; their installation is made of raffia, dried palm leaves from the Brazilian forests, typically used for indigenous housing. More participating artists in the Lamyland installation include Ingrid Donat, Kendell Geers, Studio Job, Morgane Tschiember, Giovanni Leonardo Bassan and Connor Tingley.

Throughout the exhibition other artists raise issues centered around water. Inspired by the tide peaks which regularly affect Venetian life, Virgil Abloh’s Acqua Alta (2019) resembles a sinking installation which acts as a time stamp in history that invites us to think about rising sea levels, the fate of Venice and our planet. Mathieu Lehanneur’s green marble and granite sculptures Ocean Memories Acqua Alta (2019) echo the waves of the nearby lagoon. Raising awareness of plastic pollution, Stuart Haygarth’s Tide Colour (2005) is made of plastic objects found on the British coastline. Studio Job’s Sinking Ship (2015) ponders, with their characteristic humour, the inevitable downfall of even the most advanced and luxurious of human endeavours.

Forming a dialog with Ca’ d’Oro’s permanent art collection is Doors of Paradise (2019) by Vincent Dubourg, which interacts with a bas-relief from the 10th-12th centuries that were created to ward off bad spirits. Working for the first time with clay, the artist randomly places layers of clay to form a door that obscures the view. Ode (2019), a 17-metre-long wall made of recycled fiberglass and silver-plated brass by Vincenzo De Cotiis, works as an archaic architectural gesture and conceptualizes the space. The sculpture is megalithic and echoes its surrounding artworks. Fragile Future 3 (2019) by Studio Drift forms a frame of light around Andrea Mantegna’s painting San Sebastian (1506), which is the heart of the museum’s collection and for which Franchetti built a chapel decorated with marble. The light installation, which is made of fragile dandelion seeds and LEDs, invites the viewer to rethink our connection with nature.

RANDOM INTERNATIONAL present the largest-ever iteration of Audience (2008-2019), consisting of 128 interactive mirrors. Their playful work explores the scrutiny of the mechanical gaze, and the reciprocity of the viewer and machine. Venice, once the epicentre of lookingglass manufacture, is the perfect setting for such a piece. Charles Trevelyan’s Circumspect (2015) demonstrates his mastery of the duality between form and function, much like the Venetian Gothic surrounds in which they sit. Elsewhere, the self-portrait Real Time (2019) by Maarten Baas shows the artist in his atelier indicating the time. Created specifically for this exhibition in Leonardo da Vinci’s homeland, exactly 500 years after he passed away, this work references the Vitruvian Man, while Baas addresses different aspects of passing time: getting older, moving forward and looking back.

In the monumental 15th century courtyard of Ca’ d’Oro, visitors can walk through a forest of light by Nacho Carbonell. The golden shimmering texture of his tree-like, organic sculptures reference the gilt and polychrome decorations. Similarly, the patina of Ingrid Donat’s Klimt Cabinet (2017) refers to the palazzo’s former golden decorations, while its openwork facade was inspired by the patterns of Venetian stained-glass windows and Burano lace. The Verhoeven Twins will transform, with Piaget, the First Floor Lodge with Moments of Happiness (2019), a mystical constellation of feather-light and supple impressions of bubbles, whose iridescent surfaces reflect and refract light. Frederik Molenschot’s latest iteration of his Citylight (201119) series is inspired by moving lights during midnight strolls and references the gilded history of the Ca’ d’Oro.

Joep Van Lieshout looks at the role of the artist in his series RENEGADE (2019). He rejects the labels artist and designer and turns any object that he gets his hands on – even his own existing sculptures - into lamps, making every work as valuable or invaluable as the other. Rick Owens presents Double Bubble (2013), one of his most popular works in collaboration with Carpenters Workshop Gallery. Finally, in this museum that features an abundance of old masters, the modern maestro of collectible design, Wendell Castle, is represented by Above within Beyond (2014), one of just a few of his sculptures ever to be cast in bronze.

Throughout the Ca’ d’Oro, Danish design and audio brand Bang & Olufsen has curated a selection of their prime Beoplay A9 speakers adding to the atmosphere and ambience of the exhibition.

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