“Design organizes and enables; art subverts… art is bad design on purpose.”
— Alva Noë, Strange Tools.
Adds Donna is pleased to announce a group exhibition, Rival Exchange, with Whitney Colley and Anton Jeludkov, Kyle Green, Sara Hendren, Jo Hormuth, Laura Mackin and Hunter Stabler, David Robbins, and Nathaniel Robinson, opening Friday, September 6 from 6-9pm at 3252 W. North Avenue, Chicago IL.
Despite much talk around the dissolving boundaries between art and design, few opportunities arise for designers and artists to interact as peers. Rival Exchange attempts to draw a larger circle around the arts community by inviting practicing designers to collaborate on an exhibition in an artist-run venue. The show features self-initiated projects by artist-designers and work by artists (non-designers) involving some kind of investigation of the relation between these two contexts.
The juxtaposition of art and design exposes a slippery rhetoric, ingrained with long-held preconceptions about the special role of the artist. While organizing this event, we often found ourselves mediating peers’ reductionist attempts to draw distinctions—philosophy v. utility, hermetic insight v. collective brain-racking, non-commodities (gifts) v. commodities, saboteurs v. servants of the economic meritocracy, and deep v. shallow—strikingly similar to the bohemian value system which emerged in the US and Western Europe in the early 19th century. Will these ideals continue to persist, or will we develop new habits of mind as we engage with creative production by the growing number of makers caught between categories?
Judgements abound, but objective distinctions between art and design remain elusive, largely because of the great diversity within each field and the substantial overlap between them. Arguments aside, the biased elevation of art over design is real, leading eyes to glide over the efforts of designers, particularly within the walls of an art gallery. Has this bias also gotten in the way of understanding how art works on us? While this exhibition indulges the perhaps unreasonable hope of building bridges, it also demands we identify and assess assumptions about what art is like.
Image: Nathaniel Robinson, Jug, 2017-18, fiberglass-reinforced gypsum cement over XPS foam, paint, 20h x 12w x 12d in.
In the bathroom: Laura Mackin and Hunter Stabler, Alternative Safe Space, 2019; mixed media
Inside alcove: Sara Hendren, Audible Crosswalks, 2019; digital audio, vinyl
On the monitor: David Robbins, (Digital videos looping on one monitor – Sweet Dreams, 2019; Theme Song for an Exhibition, 2014; Public Service Announcement (Garden), 2015) Pictured: Sweet Dreams, 2019
Whitney Colley and Anton Jeludkov, What We Talk About When We Talk About Nothing, 2019; mixed media with silkscreen
Nathaniel Robinson, Jug, 2017-18; fiberglass-reinforced gypsum cement over XPS foam, paint
Nathaniel Robinson, Midrise, 2007; concrete
Kyle Green, Hyperspaces, 2018-19; Digital video