Monthly Archives: September 2018

| FLASHBACK | Exhibition ‘September 11’ Commemorated Otherwise

Back in 2011, exactly a decade after the tragedy, a contemporary art show titled “September 11” was open in MoMA PS1. While many other cultural institutions across the States exhibited heavy sentimentalism in their commemorative events, Peter Eleey, curator of the ‘September 11’, adopted a much sober approach, deliberately shying away from any images of the towers, the plane, the smoke and the wreckage. Instead, the exhibition presents only one work made in direct response to the attacks by Ellsworth Kelly, in which the artist proposes to cover the Ground Zero with a simple mound of glass, and another 70 works by 41 artists largely made prior to the event.

Images of the attacks, Eleey argues, ‘were political images from the moment of their making’ and that is why they were not included. The gesture of remembrance without subsuming oneself  under the mainstream rhetoric of jingoism was something the show had taught us.

Here is a review of the exhibition by Steven Stern from

Ellsworth Kelly, Ground Zero, 2003, image courtesy Whitney Museum of American Art

| ITEM | Zipper

Once an innovative fastening technology that made the “automatic, continuous clothing closure” possible, the zipper today is one of those peculiarly banal gadgets that are so deeply embedded in our quotidian life that we hardly notice or think twice about.

The very first attempt to employ zipper in clothing design is by the rubber company called B.F. Goodrich. It released a pair of rubber boots called “The Mystik” equipped with a zipper in stead of shoelaces in 1922. When sales lag, company president Bertram G. Work muses, “What we need is an action word, something that will dramatize the way the thing zips.” The boot was rebranded “The Zipper” , and since then the zipper as a fastening mechanism has dictated the way wearable things open and close. The biggest supplier of zippers in the world today is the Japanese manufacturer YKK, who is allegedly responsible for half of the zippers production around the globe, which is roughly 7 billions per year.

(Slow and Steady Wins the Race Zipper Shirt available online.)


| HERO | Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky

In 1926, the Austrian architect Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky designed the revolutionary Frankfurt Kitchen, which became the prototype of the built-in kitchen design now prevalent in the western world. Through the Frankfurt project as well as many other work, she reconsidered domestic labor architecturally, shedding light on the previously uncontested gender issue in the male dominated field of modern architecture.

(Frankfurt Kitchen, Plan. image courtesy of MoMA)

As a communist activist who vehemently reacted to German Nazism throughout her life, Schütte-Lihotzky constantly engaged design with politics, believing that two functions simultaneously, as an inseparable, social whole.


| SUNDAY READING | Broken Nature: a Conversation Between Paola Antonelli and Nikolaus Hirsch on Design

(View of a massive rift in the Antarctic Peninsula’s Larsen C ice shelf. 2016. Image courtesy NASA/John Sonntag)

Paola Antonelli, senior curator of the Department of Architecture and Design at MoMA, is interviewed by Nikolaus Hirsch, as a warm-up discussion about her upcoming curatorial project, titled Broken Nature: Design Takes on Human Survival. The exhibition is expected to open on March, 2019 in Milan.

Ambitious and grandeur the topic may seems, Hirsch kicks off the conversation with a purposefully naive question, “What is design?”  Coped in a manner of deliberate nuance, Antonelli sees design as a discipline profoundly enmeshed with many others—such as architecture, engineering, science and society at large…

You can check out their conversation here.