Chair chat with artist Gary Ross Pastrana
PHILIPPINES, APRIL 2011 - The Office of Culture and Design (TOCD) presents Chairporn, a furniture art exhibit by Gary Ross Pastrana and Stanley Ruiz from a concept from TOCD's Clara Balaguer.
The exhibit features chairs selected by artist and curator, Gary-Ross Pastrana, CCP Thirteen Artists Awardee. The lineup includes chairs by world-renowned designers Marten Baas, Marcel Breuer, Giorgio Gurioli, Le Corbusier, Pierre Jeanneret & Charlotte Perriand, and Fabio Novembre. Pastrana collaborated with New York-based industrial designer and media artist Stanley Ruiz to create an original chair for the exhibit.
As usual, TOCD brings the appropriate retro flavor to the exhibit floor and the showroom's glass windows with the handpainted signs.
Here is a helping of adobo's conversation with Pastrana.
How did you select the chairs? Did you choose from those that were available?
Yes, that's a consideration. These are all replicas, except for the female body, which is original. There's a porn movie collection from the 20's to the 40's that Clara wanted to play so I got interested thinking about the era, chairs made during that time. So the chairs are from the pre-Modernist and Modernist period.
How was it like working with Stanley? Was a it a long-distance collaboration?
Yes. He was here for a few weeks, but when I started working on a chair he was already in New York. We were talking, he sent me the study. It's not our first time to work together; he was my friend from college. I've executed designs for him: two chairs, a table, a bowl and a clock.
Are these one-off pieces?
The chairs and the table are one-offs. The chairs are made of rice encapsulated in fiberglass. They will be shown in New York.
Can you tell us about this chair?
We started the prototype just to see if the concept will work. It's made of ordinary kitchen towels in resin. Good thing it worked.
With your experience with paper towels, do you think you will use it for future projects?
No, no. (Laughs) Material like this needs a frame to support it. It will not stand on its own. It can if you have a fiberglass shell first.
Clara was saying that there could be semen there. Can you verify?
I don't know if anyone used that. (Laughs) No, no. It's just the porn and chair connection. When we started talking about it, it sounded funny. We ended up with many joke projects, nothing serious. The chair is a distilled version of our conversation. I think Stanley incorporated things that we talked about.
Chairs are not normally used in art projects in this way. How do you feel about the distinction between design and art, since you're straddling both worlds?
I'm thinking about that as well. Artists and designers are crossing over. When you look at magazines and new designs, more and more the design are looking like conceptual pieces. I don't know exactly if that's good or bad. A lot of artists are making multiples, furniture, toys, or designing for a manufacturer, selling a thousand editions of one piece. I don't think it can be stopped. It's the direction things are going.
I work with designers and artists, to realize their pieces. I also produce my own designs starting last year. It took me a while before I was comfortable enough to do my own.
Why did it take time?
Since I started out with copying works of the masters and design icons, it became hard to add on to that canon. What else can you make after seeing how all these were made? I tried to incorporate everything that I learned from art and design into the making of originals.
So are there original ideas?
I don't think so. We build on concepts and ideas. The changes are incremental. There are probably a few original ideas that people build on but the changes are very gradual. Everyone will try out different things. The ones that will survive will be picked by others and will be perpetuated or stretched.
Chairporn is on view until May 15 at The Office of Culture and Design, The Collective, 7274 Malugay St., San Antonio Village, Makati City.