This photo series shows seriously battered design classics, including a 1930s armchair and Alvar Aalto stools from the ‘50s; lounge chair No. 670 with footstool and the plastic bucket seat by Charles & Ray Eames; Joe Colombo’s plastic chair No. 4867; and the Martin Visser sofa bed BR027 from 1958.
Although it concerns a mass product, vintage furniture has the aura of an artwork or the first print of a book. For the true fan of these furniture pieces, the sight of the photos is a spectre; it is as if they are mutilated. As if your new car has a big scratch.
Furniture becomes a sculpture
What happens to the identity of these design icons when they are broken or damaged? The furniture objects are no longer functional and thus can be viewed as sculptures. The battered pieces of furniture seem to refer to artworks, such as the paintings of Lucio Fontana and a sculpture by Henry Moore. They are unique objects instead of mass products. Visser gives them a new name and, in doing so, a new identity. She photographed the damaged furniture pieces in a sterile way, as if they are to be included in a sales catalogue. The photos were first published in 2000 in the arts magazine A-Prior.
The advance of mass media such as (digital) photography, film, television and Internet has a major influence on the work of Barbara Visser. She investigates how people, objects and events are depicted and how people look at images. She is fascinated by how people deal with design and how it partially defines them.
Mireille de Putter
1966, Haarlem, the Netherlands
Detitled 2000 / 2006
Photo (previously: magazine, photo, postcard, poster)
Acquisition 2007, Museum De Paviljoens