JEN How did your performance practice inform your design practice, and vice versa?
OM Our approach to performance and the sculpting process of our design practice, share many similarities. They are both controlled by an overall vision and contained within a conceptual perimeter; tools, materials and physical techniques are defined in advance to ensure coherence. When these presets are chosen, we roam freely between acting with the material, reflecting and reacting. The performance helps “activate” the object through its function, its purpose. By entering this play, this scenario, either improvised or scripted, the object prompts the storytelling inherent to the project.
Looking at the installation created in collaboration with Carhartt WIP for Museo Marino Marini in Florence, the performers operate within an environment of sculptures from the “Iceberg” series. They play the role of a craftsman at work, re-enacting the production of the work through several stations of the process, such as sketching, cutting, shaping and coating. Since the museum reopens to the public on this occasion after a year of renovation, we decided to establish a dialogue with Marini’s bronze sculptures by enacting the “work in progress” of the bronze before being casted or sent to lost-wax techniques. The design pieces serve as a functional scenography for the performers to interact with.
JEN In 1974, Italian artist/designer/architect Alessandro Mendini doused one of his Lassù chairs with gasoline and set it on fire. Mendini considered his Lassù as a mini-monument—an “object for spiritual use”—and the burning of the chair, which could be read as a performance, was heavy with ritual symbolism. Do your design objects ever play a role in your performances?
OM When the performance is the dominant aspect of a project, the object becomes a prop or a tool, which adds an extra layer of meaning to the performer’s actions or movements. But sometimes, the idea can switch to investing the object with sacred significance through the performance, in a slightly surrealist way. In the “Dress the Chair” series, for example, where daily chairs are covered with second hand clothes, the performance is there to activate the personality of the character present in the chair. The conversation between the performer and the chair creates a new layer of complexity.