There is perhaps nothing more fundamental to our identity than our past. Our history, and the stories we tell to convey our understanding of it, say so much about who we were, who we are, and who we’re becoming. It never takes long for new friends to ask “where are you from?” Those initial stories are the foundation of our understandings of each other. But what about the objects we live with? What are their stories?
There is something inherently noble in the life of a tree, its image invoked in metaphors about life, learning, and personal or spiritual growth. But where does the wood used in a typical object purchased at IKEA come from? The answer is a complicated journey that involves resources, lawyers, language interpreters, financial negotiations, shipping containers, and tens of thousands of miles traveled. If you remove the economic factors of this object’s journey you are left with a rich history–almost humorous in its complexity.
A Simple Chair (Returning Home) by ROLU attempts to reorient our values regarding these objects by calling attention to a different approach. One that honors the materials, the ideas and the work involved. A celebration. A homecoming parade. Gratitude for simplicity. Members of the studio will be building on the roof of the Soap Factory throughout the night, visible only by their shadows. One will be required to imagine the work, much like that of the products of unknown origin. The wood used to build these simple chairs is from south Minneapolis and was obtained through the city. When the chairs are complete, they will be lowered over the side of the building, calling to mind the retiring of an old flag. The chairs will be ceremonially carried across the Stone Arch Bridge and down to the banks of the Mississippi River, representing a vital link of the post-industrial age method of distribution. From there, participants will be invited to travel along with the chairs by boat as they are taken to Riverside park where they will retire and symbolically begin a new and equally poetic phase of their lives.
A Simple Chair lives on after this initial event in the form of a newspaper designed by Alex DeArmond. Besides essays by Greg Allen (greg.org), Sam Gould (Red 76), David Horvitz and ROLU’s Matt Olson, the newsprint contains directions for how to build your own simple chair. For the summer of 2011, A Simple Chair is part of Night Market at MASS MoCA. We can’t wait to see where it goes from here.
ROLU, rosenlof/lucas, ro/lu
ROLU is a design and art studio located in Minneapolis that released their first line of furniture September 2010. Various pieces have been on view recently at Art In General, MoMA PS1, Philips de Pury, MONDO CANE Gallery, Noho Next for the ICFF (International Contemporary Furniture Fair) all in NYC, Golden Age in Chicago and at Art Basel Miami Beach through Berlin gallery Arratia, Beer. ROLU’s practice was founded in and continues to have a strong link to landscape design work but also extends to relational architectural projects, urban planning work and innovative collaborative public art.