Currently reading : Nirvana: Strange Forms of Pleasure

Nirvana: Strange Forms of Pleasure

26 November 2014

Author : ellen-turner

Mark Woods, ‘Brownie Box Fetish’

Nirvana: Strange Forms of Pleasure, an exhibition that examines the influence of erotica on contemporary art, design and fashion, is currently on show at the MUDAC Museum of Applied Arts and Design in Lausanne, Switzerland.

A universal selection of artists across all art and design practices, such as Atelier van Lieshout, Zaha Hadid, Yves Behar, Pierre Charpin, Betony Vernon and the house of Maison Martin Margiela have contributed to the group exhibition.

The exhibition stems from an observation of the growing number of artistic practitioners being inspired by the fetish scene. Though referencing the fetishistic is nothing new, curators Marco Costantini and Susanne Hilpert Stuber were possessed by the influence erotica was having across all disciplines of the art and design industry and how such influences were being used and subverted in order to challenge our perceptions of pleasure.

The display of 200 images, objects and clothing is a voyeuristic exhibition of the personal perceptions of pleasure from the 100 contributing artists and designers; their (what hitherto remained private) sexuality and desires are made public. The exhibition seeks to challenge forms of expression and how notions of the private and the public are subverted when they’re subject of a fashion, design or artistic object that we engage with in normalcy everyday. Van Lieshout’s ‘Body Sofa’ demands the body to place themselves within the tangled orgy of vaguely humanely characterised forms that create the sofa’s silhouette and Karim Rashid’s ‘Karimsutra Bed’ is a bed that beholds no function for sleep, just sex; each part is designed for the comfortable support of a position of the Karma Sutra.

Society’s vigorous desire for sensual pleasure in the digital age is explored throughout Nirvana and many of our pre-constructed taboos surrounding fetishism and erotica are subverted through the use of unexpected shapes and materials. Mark Woods in particular plays with the hard and soft in the materiality of his work, combining leather and fine wood with velvet and human hair, in themselves representing the spectrum of fetishes and the demand of the sexual touch. His objects belie functionality. Their peculiar forms evoke sex toys of monstrous proportions, thus pleasure, though their curiosity and luxurious surfaces suggest something religious, devotional and sacrificial. In the exhibition catalogue Susanna Kumschick calls Woods’ sculptures ‘sensual hermaphrodites that go beyond the levels of meaning evoked in material and form’.

Nirvana: Strange Forms of Pleasure seeks to explore the effect erotica is having on contemporary art and design, but does so that the objects and consequent personal revelations of their artists challenges our perceptions of what we find pleasurable. Immersed in a society obsessed with pornography, and a digital age of instant sexual gratification, the curiosity evoked by the objects in Nirvana allow us to consider the enchantment of the imagination and the unknown.

Nirvana: Strange Forms of Pleasure is currently on show at the MUDAC Museum of Applied Arts and Design in Lausanne, Switzerland and runs until 26th April, 2015

More information can be found here

Atelier Van Lieshout, ‘Body Sofa’
Karim Rishid, ‘Karimsutra’
Mark Woods, ‘Flesh Gordon’
Lucas Van Vught, ‘Crowns Jewels’
Mark Woods, ‘Blonde Bombshell’
Jacques Le Corre, ‘Escarpins épines lacquées’
Betony Vernon, ‘Soul-less Shoes’


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