Janette Laverrière: Bibliothèque Tournante

TWAAS, New York, NY 
April 2–24, 2014

An Exhibition Curated by Fionn Meade in cooperation with Nairy Baghramian and Silberkuppe
with the support of the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the U.S. as part of ART2

The exhibition will present the work of Janette Laverrière (1909–2011), an interior architect and designer who lived and worked in Paris for the majority of her life. Exploring Laverrière’s role in crucial shifts in the history of 20th-century design, the exhibition will use her work as the starting point for a conversation around the politics of value as expressed by the aesthetics of architecture and design. The exhibition is the first presentation of her work in the U.S.

Bibliothèque Tournante revisits an exhibition originally conceived by Laverrière with artist Nairy Baghramian for the Schinkel Pavilion as part of the 5th Berlin Biennial (2008) entitled La lampe dans l'horloge. The exhibition will exhibit Laverrière’s prototypes, design multiples, and scenography, in particular her Evocations, a late grouping of mirrors that form part of what she termed her “useless objects series.” Producing commissioned mirror objects since 1936, Laverrière’s Evocations privileges allegorical content over utility. La Commune, hommage à Louise Michel (2001), for instance, with bullet holes perforating its lid, echoes the violence of the Paris Commune of 1871, while also performing an elegy to one of its key figures, the anarchist and proto-feminist Louise Michel. Within the exhibition Bibliothèque Tournante, the mirrors on the walls do not play according to the conventional rules of identification and refuse to return a stable representation. Instead, they offer subjective deportations into history, literature, and innuendo.

Bibliothèque Tournante will further consider the subjective positions and conceptualizing of value as it is proposed by Laverrière’s work in interior design, including through the gaps and resistances which arise from her own life and the historiography of her work. Born in 1909 in Switzerland, Janette Laverrière studied in Basel at the Allgemeine Gewerbeschule, where she learned the fundamentals of drawing and decoration. After training in her father’s architecture practice, she designed her first pieces of furniture in the late 1920s, and until 1945 collaborated on designs with Maurice Pré. Having for a short time joined the Communist Party in 1945, Laverrière’s professional life spanned crucial shifts in design thinking and politics in the postwar period and beyond. Having helped found the Front National des decorateurs (National Front for Decorators) and the Union des artistes decorateurs et createurs d’ensembles (Decorators Trade Union), both in 1944, Laverrière’s career continued to impact art, design, and social movements until her death in 2011.

Bibliothèque Tournante is organized by curator Fionn Meade in collaboration with Berlin-based artist Nairy Baghramian and Silberkuppe, Berlin and is hosted by TWAAS in New York.

It is part of a series of events occurring across several spaces in downtown New York, which address the shifting relationship between art and value. This series is presented by the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the U.S. as part of ART2.

Video feature here

Additional events in conjunction with the exhibition:

Janette Laverrière: Art, Design, and Social Movement
Conversation with Ana Janevski (MoMA), Fionn Meade (Walker Art Center), and Silberkuppe co-founders Dominic Eichler and Michel Ziegler
Thursday, April 10, 6:30–8pm
Columbia University School of the Art
Free admission

Readings from the library of Janette Laverrière
Hosted by Silberkuppe with Anna Ostoya and other guests
Wednesday, April 9 at 5pm and Wednesday, April 16 at 6:30pm
Thea Westreich Art Advisory Services
114 Greene Street, Fl. 2, New York, NY 10012
Free admission

Copryright Fionn Meade unless otherwise stated