Another sterile white-walled gallery filled with sterile contemporary art, right?
These paintings and sculptures are actually construction debris, pieces of furniture, carpet, wood flooring and stone tile removed from demolition sites. The exhibit, called “Usus/Usures”, is Belgium’s entry at the Architecture Exhibit at this year’s Venice Biennale, a kind of architecture Olympics that brings together prominent international design offices.
The pieces were curated, or should I say salvaged, by Rotor, a Belgian design collective that often work with reclaimed construction materials. The spaces do look beautiful. On one level it might be a joke, since some of this garbage has the prettiness of minimalist art.
On another level it’s a statement about how we use things and discard them when they’ve become old and worn. The flaws in these pieces give them character. A scrap of oddly cut carpet, wood school desks covered with scratchiti, and a stained wood floorboard are all strangely compelling when hung on a gallery wall. The challenge is to appreciate this kind of artwork when it’s installed in our homes.