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The objects around us have connotations that come from the history of decorative arts and design, but are also interwoven with the personal stories of their owners. In turn, these floating meanings tacitly influence our perceptions of situations, places, and décors. The artists in The Way Things Are approach the semantics of objects from the angle of affect. From pathos to laughter, they engage our empirical knowledge and imagination. Ulla von Brandenburg, Florence Doléac, and Virgil Marti question our relationships with "things" in different ways. The exhibition is inspired by, and connects with, other realms—theater, industrial design, and the decorative arts.
The correlation between art and object is a recurrent concern in contemporary art. Marcel Duchamp exploited the distinction between art and non-art object, most explicitly in his Readymades. In his essay Art as Design/Design as Art (1986), Dan Graham demonstrated how Pop was premised on vernacular design and Minimalism on industrial design. For Richard Artschwager, furniture forms offer subjects with human temper—the fussiness of the Victorian, the rationality of International Style. With his plethoric Individual Objects, Allan McCollum observes how a person transfers emotions onto mass-produced bibelots, which become private symbols to them.
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