Handle with Care. Unpacking a Bulky Table
Exhibition of the Bauhaus Lab 2019
6 September 2019 – 12. January 2020
Bauhaus Building, Workshop Wing
What happens with an everyday object when it becomes part of a museum collection?
The shift of status and environment is accompanied by a process of categorization within the institutional framework of the museum. Acquisition documents and archive materials are testimonies of that process. In its result, we encounter such an object in a museum labelled with the indication of author, title, year, material, and provenance.
The Bauhaus Lab 2019—taking place in the year of the Bauhaus Centenary—takes the very mode of collecting and presenting Bauhaus objects in museums as its point of departure. A table the Bauhaus designer and emigre Marcel Breuer designed for the ISOKON Furniture Company in London 1936, today part of the Bauhaus collection of the Victoria & Albert Museum, serves as case study for the postgraduate research and curatorial program.
Whereas art and design historiography focuses on the stylistic classification of objects, the Bauhaus Lab participants suggest an alternative approach: by investigating the material stories, social practices, commodity and ownership phases from personal belongings to museum estates, the programme critically analyses the various social lives embodied in this object.
The table is made up from standardized elements of cut and bent plywood. The shape of these elements inspired the display for the experimental exhibition that unpacks the complex spheres of existence the table experienced.
The exhibition opening on 5 September 2019 is accompanied by an international symposium in which the participants of the programme together with scholars and curators will critically reflect upon the “making of the museum object”.