press release

The exhibition stages an imaginary lobby, for the audience to have access to a wide spectrum of the Frac Nord-Pas De Calais collection. The museum’s collection consists of works of art and design from the xxth century until nowadays. In the imaginary lobby of the „Hotel Dunkerque“, an unconventional cross section of the collection will be presented. Strictly speaking, it is not a thematic exhibition, but rather a show in which limits between art and design are presented in their most inside core. This exhibition’s concept finds its interdisciplinarity in the crossing between art and design, which better corresponds to a showroom than to a museal place in which art and cultural goods are exhibited, archived or preserved.

Staging a lobby in the museal white cube - that architects lacaton & vassal conceptualized - and whose interior presents an eclectic symbiosis between art and design, allowing both disciplines to answer each other. It is a staging made of collages, in which both representatives of the former furnitures design and of the contemporary industrial design communicate with international contemporary art and photography in a remarkable way.

In the exhibition „Hotel Dunkerque“, or more precisely in the hotel lobby, designers such as Olivier Mourgue, Marc Newson, Konstantin Grcic, Tejo Remy, Achille Castiglioni, Joe Colombo, Jasper Morrison, Verner Panton or Charles and Ray Eames stand alongside artists like John M. Armleder, Tobias Rehberger, Ugo Rondinone or Tom Burr, and photographers such as Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Doisneau or Marcel Marien. It is an intergenerational top-level meeting between stars of art and design, of the history of art and design, which leads to a melting pot of both fields at severals eras.

The pieces of furniture in Olivier Mourgues’ Bar 'Djinn' (1960), which can be seen in the cult movie a Clockwork Orange (Stanley Kubrick, 1971), are lazingly lying in contrast with the sofa sculpture (Furniture Sculpture 21“, 1981) of John M. Armleder. The armchair sculpture (untitled – 4 armchairs, 2001) of the artist Tom Burr naturally takes its place next to the flying carpet armchair (1972) of the architect and designer Ettore Sottsass jr., presenting the limits between art and design and suggesting the question of what is art, and what is design. For decades, this question has been a source of disagreement between philosophers, and can only be partly answered.

The art piece by John Knight (mirror series, 1986), into which mirrors are inserted, are considered as works of art, but when they are placed at eye level, they can then be regarded as utilitarian objects. Jan Kaths’ carpets can be hanged on the wall such as light-sewed paintings, or placed functionally on the ground as woven paintings. The guest designer Jan Kath in the exhibition Hotel Dunkerque is one of the world’s designers of hand-knotted carpets. He purposely breaks with conventional styles and throws strict design rules overboard. He doesn’t shy away from combining classic elements from the oriental carpet with contemporary, minimalist design. With his modern designs, Jan Kath (*1972 in Bochum, Germany) is creating a completely new perspective on carpets.

Symbolic values are not indissociable and remain constantly linked to the context and to the artistic impulse. But of course, it also depends on how a work of art’s owner will use it: an art piece with inserted mirror parts can also be used as a regular mirror, even if the work has another connotation.

„Hotel Dunkerque“ is an exhibition that facilitates the superposition of art with the common world. It suggests and stages an eclectic whole to describe a supposingly lively interior, where life for art in art can take place. It can also work as a mirror, in which the real world of an imaginary intergenerational society will be made visible.