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International Objects contrives an array of ‘Local Objects’ in its inaugural show
Local Objects at International Objects
Image: Courtesy of International Objects

International Objects contrives an array of ‘Local Objects’ in its inaugural show

The New York-based gallery unveils its debut show that presents furniture, lighting design and sculptural objects by artists and designers who have produced objects in New York.

by Anushka Sharma
Published on : Apr 05, 2023

Art versus design: the discussion, or debate, is tediously prolonged. But what are the differences responsible for their alleged strained relationship? Is it the disparity in pragmatism or the incongruity in constraints? Moreover, are these presumed boundaries still relevant in contemporary art and design? There are instances, now more than ever when one melts into the other and the boundary blurs; art becomes functional, and design an expression of sheer emotion—often making such a categorisation impossible. The art and design communities have come to embrace this amalgamation, one example being Brooklyn-based gallery International Objects.

The creative platform in New York is committed to a central proposition: to overturn the categories that have kept art and design sequestered. In its inaugural exhibition, International Objects presents Local Objects, a repository of works—encompassing furniture design and lighting design—created by artists and designers who, barring a few, have produced their objects locally in the greater New York City area. “In this exhibition, and in exhibitions to follow, we will provide evidence that within discourse, artists and designers work in parallel processes to produce objects that complicate the social structures and sign systems of their surrounding environments,” reads the gallery’s official release. The show will be on display from March 18 to May 28, 2023, and will encompass works by designers and artists such as Al Freeman, Chris Domenick, Minjae Kim and Jumbo.

However we approach and treat them, objects are rarely ever passive. Whether utilitarian or static, natural or artificial, material or immaterial, animate or inanimate, objects unfold and induce responses in relation to their landscape, material, and mode of production. The human relationship to objects is complicated by a value system that exists outside of the object itself. Objects produced in mass can be experienced as unique; objects produced locally are overwhelmed by objects produced from a great distance. Tangled in mechanisms of control and desire, objects are exposed to the operations of commerce and are consumed by the social organisations that represent them. This prevalent misrepresentation often suppresses the object’s origin or reproduction to instead focus on a mythological value.

The ethos of the gallery takes cues from the philosophies of Italian scientist and philosopher Giordano Bruno. In Cause, Principle and Unity (1584) Bruno elaborated the physical theory on which his conception of the universe was based: ‘form’ and 'matter’ are intimately united and constitute the ‘one.’ An excerpt from the essay reads, “I say then that the table as table is not animated, nor the clothes, nor the leather as leather, nor the glass as glass; but as natural things and composites they have within themselves matter and form. Let a thing be as small and diminutive as you like, it still possesses in itself a part of spiritual substance which, if it finds a suitable subject, becomes plant, becomes animal, and receives the members of one or other of the bodies that are commonly called animate; for spirit is found in all things and there is not the least corpuscle that doesn’t contain internally some portion that may become alive… Ergo, quidquid est, animal est ( In French translates to: Then whatever is, is an animal).”

The object dissociates from its spirit and transforms into a sign. Artists and designers across disciplines, through observation and method, dabble with these taxonomies to create unique bodies of work. In the exhibition space, one encounters objects that are deconstructed, transformed and recombined to create objects anew. Abstract chair designs, organic lighting, cabinets clad in paintings akin to canvases and wooden furniture that delineates sculptural art. Each design is an active effort by artists and designers to invite engagement with their subjects. “With an understanding of the ontological confusion between objects and the sign systems that mask them, artists and designers work to destabilise and exploit the mediating functions that govern all things,” reads the official release.

Each object speaks metaphorically of others: a chair, chiselled to emulate the materiality of upholstered fabric; a table design, with sculpted undulations evocative of a current; another chair, taking cues from the shape of a towering cavern; a bed, with an interior room; and an alabaster apartment, the mass of its contents as measured in stone. Through their debut show Local Objects, International Objects presents an ensemble of silhouettes tied together by the landscape, all objects evoking a system greater than themselves.

‘Local Objects’ will be on view from March 18 to May 28, 2023, at International Objects in Brooklyn, New York.

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