While preparing for the inauguration of the museum in January 2010 I came across a text written by the Israeli author, Amos Oz. This thought provoking excerpt is dealing with Israel's culture of conservation and preservation, discussing the need to preserve versus the necessity to change and intervene. Such themes are relevant for the discussion of the role of museums in general, and design museums in particular. "I object to the preservation of nature," Oz writes, "the very ideal of ‘preservation' is not acceptable in almost any area of life... One is allowed to touch, allowed to move, to draw closer, to change and to leave our stamp." (Amos Oz, "On Loving the Land," in The Zionist Dimension of Nature Preservation, 1981.)Visitors to design or architecture exhibitions are often expected to exercise an alertness and readiness to new forms of languages both materialistically and spatially. In Reverse is a unique, one of a kind exhibition, not just because the museum building constitutes its single biggest exhibit, but also due its sincerity and ingenuity in presenting Arad's complex and multilayered work process, both through its individual stages and end-products. Arad's works, from a career spanning over 30 years, will fill the museum's two main galleries. The pulsing heart of the exhibition commands the center of the museum's upper gallery - Pressed Flowers: six vintage Fiat 500 cars embalmed as giant memorial centerpieces - a work that perfectly embodies the passage of an object from the vibrating world outside into the closed one of the museum - a space traditionally entrusted with the task of collecting, classifying and preserving. This oversized series of Pressed Flowers is on the one hand evocative of a collective childhood memory from bygone times, and on the other hand it acts as a reference to the very methods by which flowers, plants, butterflies and insects had gained access into the first museums - being pressed first and then pinned with needles, to be neatly arranged and spread in display trays.
It seems that there hasn't been an exhibition where the question on whether design items should be shown in their functional context or in the form of a reworked, processed memory has been raised andcontemplated upon. Displaying the six flattened Fiats charges the tripartite relationship between an object, the real space of the museum and the visitors' cognitive space with a new meaning. In order for it to work the architectural structure that houses it has to be sufficiently familiar to inspire comfort and security, fascinating enough to arouse curiosity, novel enough to raise excitement and anticipation, and at the same time fitting to accommodate new idea structures with every new exhibition. The design museum, is capable of all these and more, always raising excitement in the visitor in every new encounter with a familiar memory.
Ron Arad, one of the most prominent and influential figures in today's worlds of design, architecture and art, crosses naturally these three domains, showing an infinite curiosity for new materials, production methods and technologies. Arad, who comfortably moves between gigantic industrial gear and delicate computer screens, seems to collect new sensory information wherever he goes, later weaving them to form new perception of the material object itself. His straightforward conduct withinthe fields of art and design, combined with the freedom of his creative environment, distinguishes him and his London studio. His impact is continuously felt in the world of design, whose boundaries he continues to challenge. I am certain that In Reverse, as a unique show in which museum and display are fused to one, will mark an important stepping stone in our important and challenging ongoing journey.
Back to the exhibition page >>