The play of displaying

The play of displaying

Angling through the different rooms are shelves mounted on metal studs that are usually used in the construction of walls. On these shelves are dozens of salt and pepper shakers in every shape possible, cats, houses, fishes, cakes, vikings, or cooks. These objects were lent by ordinary citizens in response to the call-out of the Serpentine Gallery in London. This installation is one of the works which has been specially created for the exhibition of Haim Steinbach (1944), ‘once again the world is flat’.

Steinbach is not a rookie in his profession, he has produced an extraordinary body of work during his forty-year career. Known especially as someone who redefines the status of the object in art, Steinbach has been collecting and arranging objects (old and new, mass-produced and handmade) coming from different contexts. He displays these objects on framing devices, ranging from handmade constructions, simple wedge-shaped shelves or modular building systems.

In the Serpentine Gallery he presents once again his continued investigation into what constitutes an art object and the ways in which it is displayed. For the exhibition major new installations are combined with reconfigurations of historical installations and a number of grid-based paintings from the early 1970s.

Works from other collections as the Victoria & Albert’s Museum of Childhood and the Luma Foundation have been incorporated into a scaffold shelving unit, designed by Steinbach in the center room of the institution. There he juxtaposes chairs, paintings, doll houses, and sculptures as one unity.

With the metal walls and shelves (which are completed with colorful wallpaper) as a recurrent element and navigating tool, ‘once again the world is flat’ could be perceived as one major architectural installation. Steinbach reframes his own work and tries to question and to play once again with the traditional notions of display and the value of objects. The result is an exciting labyrinth full of humorous and wonderful discoveries.

The exhibition of Haim Steinbach was on show until 5 May 2014 at the Serpentine Gallery in London.