press release

This summer the Middelheim Museum will be hosting the work of American artist Andrea Zittel, a remarkable figure in the international world of art. Zittel will be creating an installation especially for the museum that will be displayed in the Hortiflora area, while a selection of the artist’s existing work will be featured in the Braem Pavilion.

A-Z: An Institute of Investigative Living
Zittel occupies a special place in the art world. She’s part of the vanguard of artists who aim to reflect on art’s social role. Zittel’s work focuses on the fundamental questions of human nature – taking its subject matter directly from the act of day-to-day living. Her practice includes living units, furniture, clothing, utensils and even food – all of which explore our most basic assumptions that are ingrained into our daily habits, patterns, needs, and values.

Between art and architecture
Zittel’s artistic work traverses the boundaries between art and architecture. She believes that our surrounding realities are made up of panels that exist both as literal and in a psychological field of reality. Horizontal panels naturally function as platforms for actions and behaviour – these are the sites where life happens (floors, tables, benches, fields, streets). Vertical panels privilege the eye and are the carriers of messages and ideologies (walls, screens, paintings, billboards). Sometimes, panels traverse both dimensions and become three-dimensional (e.g. cloth draped over an object or on the body). Panels can be rigid or flexible, they can provide shelter or divide rooms, and they can delineate certain areas.

New installation on Hortiflora
Especially for the museum, Zittel creates a new installation: Flat Field Works (Middelheim Variant #1 and #2). Horizontal and vertical panels are made in different materials and colours; together they form units that have both an industrial and a domestic feel. Some parts are in aluminium, others are in concrete, wood or gravel. You can enter the units and stay there to read a book, or study, or dream, or simply gaze around. Because Zittel’s interest lies not so much in the architecture or structures themselves, so much as in how they are experienced both physically and psychologically. Why do we attribute the role of ‘seat’ to a horizontal plane at a height of 45 cm, and the role of ‘table’ to a horizontal plane at a height of 75 cm? Does every vertical plane function as a separator or boundary? Why shouldn’t we be allowed to stand on these ‘table planes’ or eat on the ‘seating surface’?

Works in the Braem Pavilion
The works installed in the Braem Pavilion represent a selection of pieces executed over the last several years. Similar to the Flat Field Works – these also explore the format of a rectilinear ’panel’. Hand woven textiles, carpets, steel and sculptural works point to the distinctions that we make between art and design, painting and sculpture, and representation and reality. What is art and what do we call design? But equally, when you’re face to face with a horizontal surface, when do you call it a table and when do you call it a bench? And why are we so quick to label a flat plane is hung on the wall as art?  Zittel has no quarrel with these categories but prefers to examine the psychological need behind that labelling and the social relevance of things.

About Andrea Zittel
Andrea Zittel lives and works in Joshua Tree (California). She has had solo exhibitions at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (US), the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Copenhagen (DK), and the Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh (US). Her work has also been included in group exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art, New York (US) among others, and has been selected for Documenta X, Kassel (DE).

This will be her first solo exhibition in Belgium.