The social life of things
The CACC devotes a large part of its artistic program to graphic design, regularly entrusting the reinvention of its visual identity to emerging graphic design studios. As a way of concluding a collaboration that began in 2016, the duo Müesli has been invited to put on an exhibition displaying their thinking, graphic position, and research. Displaying graphic design is a bold and complex exercise in itself : how can graphic designers take on the role of the exhibition’s principal actor, performing with the freedom of artistic dynamism, when their practice is typically at the service of a commissioned project ? And once the somewhat academic game and rules of the exhibition have been accepted, what direction should one take : show an already existing work, presenting its references and influences, or perhaps create a new project to demonstrate a particular proclivity ? The very format of the exhibition invites us to question the graphic designer’s position. Selecting the latter option, the duo has chosen to share with the viewer the fruits of their research at the crossroads of anthropology, design, crafts, and art.
Following the reflections of ethnologist Thierry Bonnot and philosopher Bernadette Bensaude Vincent, the exhibition entitled The Social Life of Things offers a “biography of objects.” According to Bonnot, there are no strictly “utilitarian” objects, or objects that can be reduced to their commercial value. The object is a part of the social trajectory and frequently changing hands. The symbolic substance of an object–even one with the most modest of appearances–is a social construct. So how can one identify the meaning, identity, and role of the object ? Can we – as Bensaude suggests – examine the idea of a biography of objects as an expanded critical analysis tool ? At a time of globalization and cultural hybridization, how can we retrace these biographies ? How can we recount them ? What are the traces, the signs, and the clues that testify to the place of the object – how are they selected and by whom ? And how does this history then reveal our own History ? At Clamart, Müesli envisions a layout in communion with the art center. At the heart of this display, the duo offers an immersion in a personal topography, a series of “objectual” ecosystems in which images, signs, typefaces, and objects are in dialogue. Similar to displays found in USA “roadside museums,” fabrications and imprints of reality intermingle, their merging allowing as many opportunities for clarifications as it does micro-fictions. Through its spectrum of artifacts and weaving of references, The Social Life of Things exhibition questions and compares a series of traditional objects via an analysis of the context of their appearance and transformation. Material, environmental, historical, social, and political contexts shape the object through its materiality and uses–an object whose mark, in turn, shapes and strengthens our understanding of the world through a mirror effect. Thus, starting from a reflection often associated with the field of design, the exhibition asks how one can broaden that field and its modalities through the research and contribution of the diverse disciplines of ethnology, ethno-mathematics, literature, and archeology in order to develop a reflection on design going beyond the field of design.
A publication gathering the duo’s iconographic research along with excerpts from the scientific research will be published along with the exhibition.
Müesli’s research project was selected and supported by the patronage commission of the Fondation Nationale des Arts Graphiques et Plastiques.
BIOGRAPHY OF MÜESLI
Paris-based graphic designers Lea Chapon and Mytil Ducomet founded their studio, Müesli, in 2008 to develop their own artistic vision. At Müesli, Léa and Mytil combine their love for typography with a global mindset, leading to smart and surprising design solutions. Léa and Mytil emphasize the materials and textures of their design creations, and they combine homemade processes, such as woodcutting, engraving, letter printing, and silkscreen, with traditional printing to enrich each design project. This approach stems from their idea that every graphic solution can be seen as a system, a matrix of potential capable of producing variations without being limited to a single fixed expression. Although Müesli focuses mainly on paper creations, the studio’s graphic designs have ranged considerably, from global identity conception to font drawing and web design.