“Black is the inevitable antidote to the sublime pureness of white. For many designers, white is the only real trend colour for the near future. It is a non-colour and all colours at the same time, meaning that coloured light only comes into its own in a white setting. And since coloured light is currently the equivalent of the flavour of the month, white will follow”, according to Belgian trend-watcher, Niek de Prest. OBJEKT©International focuses on the luminous white of three leading Japanese designers, the black of Mike Meiré’s Back Room and the pure, milk-white of Prune Nourry’s latest work: Holy Daughters.
Pure white can provoke intense fascination. Modern Japanese designers in particular play with bright white to intensify the spatial aspects of their designs. From filigree forms to concrete structures, their works seem to defy gravity with their whiteness: they float away into infinity. And when you utter ‘white’, you follow it almost immediately with ‘black’. Niek de Prest: “The only colour that pierces the weightlessness of white and does not itself alter under the influence of other colours, is black. So black was also a necessity, in order to disrupt the harmony and, similarly, the dullness of purity.” You can leave it to Mike Meiré to disrupt harmony. And, in point of fact, the principal colour in his latest installation was black. Following his Farm Project, Noises for Ritual Architecture, Global Street Food and, recently, Revolving Realities – exhibitions and installations that he created in collaboration with Dornbracht - Mike presented the ‘Back Room- Adults Only’ project for 2011 in the German city of Cologne. In his Cologne Factory he confronted the unsuspecting visitor with the idea that furniture can lead a highly personal, dark life of its own. It is the alter ego of the glitter and design glamour that marketing people propagate. Marcel Breuer’s Wassily chair and Eileen Gray’s daybed were wrapped in black, transparent plastic. The famous desk chair by Ray & Charles Eames rotated on a small, light-emitting wire mesh stage and was draped with chains – a whiff of Porn Chic, but Mike found that too simplistic an explanation. It was his intention to add subversive significance to these style icons, which are absolute ‘musts’ in a well-furnished office.
“The marketing epigones in the furniture world propagate ubiquitous merits, such as authenticity, tradition and classicism, as the ultimate trend. These are believed to fulfil the craving for safety in an unsafe world – a feeling that is not such a bad thing. But I want to show that such ‘safe’ symbols can easily acquire entirely different overtones. Dark overtones with SM connotations, exposing man’s destructive side”, according to Mike Meiré in a brief comment on his installation. It was entered through a black, labyrinthine corridor, with the throbbing beat of music forming an important element of the exhibition.
The white of milk, the drink that feeds babies and, as a consequence, has elevated the cow – producer of milk - to a holy symbol of fertility in countries like India, is the visual criterion in a project by the French artist, Prune Nourry. In the heart of Paris she presented her Holy Daughters.: half holy cow, half woman, in one. The hybrid aspect is something that has always fascinated her since she opened her studio in 2004. That fascination led to the Domestic Babies project and, meanwhile, to Holy Daughters: a show bathed in milky white addressing the dichotomy between the cow as a holy creature and the woman, who is little more than a reproductive vessel. Prune: “A country like India is a male country. It already has a shortfall of sixty million women, partly because the gender of a baby can be seen before its birth. As a result, there are countless numbers of abortions of female foetuses, because girls are not usually wanted. My holy cow-woman hybrid raises both to the same holy status, thus placing the image of the woman on the same level as the pure image of the cow.” She put her two hybrid sculptures in the streets of Delhi and documented reactions, primarily from male spectators who were confronted with a new reality: the twofold nature of Gau Mata (mother cow) and woman.
Her project extends further, to the Gaushalas, special refuges for sick and abandoned cows which, unlike women in similar circumstances, are well looked after. In one of the Gaushalas she created a white equivalent to the colourful Hindu Holy Holi festival (which entails participants throwing coloured water over themselves and others). It is a festival at which it is too dangerous for women to venture outdoors, because of the consumption of alcohol. In the seclusion of the cow ‘hotel’, a group of young girls dressed up in white clothes and threw milk and milk powder at one another as symbols of innocence and peace: white milk symbolising fertility.