per•verse /pɚˈvɜrs/ adj.
willfully determined or disposed to go
counter to what is expected or desired; contrary
persistent or obstinate in what is wrong
turned away from what is right, good, or proper
Perverse Furniture is a group exhibition that upsets conventional notions of furniture to explore a range of materially expressive and emotionally intelligent “designs for the body”. Organized on the 100th Anniversary of the Bauhaus, this exhibition explores how three generations of U.S. based artists grapple with the German school’s legacies and ideological roots. Artworks by Graham Anderson, Johanna Bresnick, Bernadette Despujols, Brian Galderisi, Bob Gregson, Crystal Heiden, Robert Chase Heishman and Megan Schvaneveldt, Meredith James, Kyle Kearson, Juliana Cerqueira Leite, Esteban Ramón Pérez, Robert Narracci, Jeff Ostergren, Jessi Reaves, Chris Ruggiero and Nina Yuen share Bauhaus’s core concern to understand humankind’s place among machines. But rather than strive for the possibility of a perfect marriage between art, technology and industry, they interrogate the ways in which objects serve our physical and psychological needs. In their quest to humanize design, the works are aesthetically antithetical to the iconic utilitarian objects of Bauhaus design-- inefficient, weepy, oddball, excessive, loud, performative, participatory, kitsch, impractical, non-functional, multicentered, empathetic, and nearly alive. This exhibition was co-curated with Architect, Aude Jomini.
At the core of the exhibition, a specially curated zone explores the mixed reception and nuanced effects of Bauhaus-inspired modernist design in New Haven from the 1950s to today. One section, curated from materials in the Photo Archives and Manuscripts at the New Haven Museum by historian Jason Bischoff-Wurstle, accounts for some of the bizarre spatial mysteries we encounter throughout the city. This section also tells lesser-known stories of early city planning and the implementation by the unique confluence of public and private entities in the remarkable years after World War II. Another section, organized by Robert Gregson, addresses alluring encounters with the hidden glass prisms of residential Connecticut modernism. A third section looks to Yale University’s foundation course on “The Chair” as an example of how American students of architecture are still taught lessons in direct material engagement, scalability and authorship via the Bauhaus tradition of “learning by doing”.
Artspace partnered with social media influencers RyszPlusRysz to host a night of improvisational music by Dylan McDonnell, Taylor Warinsky and Cliff Schloss, who responded to the works in the show, and cocktails and street food by Sherkaan.
top photos: Installation Views of Perverse Furniture, on display at Artspace New Haven, May 19 - July 29, 2020. Photos by Jessie Smolinksi. Images Courtesy of Artspace.
bottom photo: Performance Still of musicians responding to a commissioned installation by Kyle Kearson. Photo by RyszPlusRysz.