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Slott - Preliminaries: design at the threshold of love

Untitled Text: Kay Roberts
Photo: "Belly Love," Florence Jaffrain

Walk along the side of Gare de l'Est, up towards Gare du Nord, west of the Canal St Martin, catch sight of a shop window with a seductive throbbing light illuminating a white sculpture, or is it a sofa, or is it a bed?  Enter through the courtyard to the internal atelier space of Slott to find, on the ground floor, two objects, one a gold metal form in the shape of a fire, the other a large arbour made of fronds. Objects in that curious hinterland between art and design, art as design or design as art. But as all art forms rapidly morph into each other that is probably an obsolete distinction.

Preliminaries - is aptly the name of a first exhibition in the space curated by the gallerist Paola Bjaringer, has the work of four established designers, two male, two female, objects created on a theme around love. The gallery is linked to the group Exquisite Design and the exhibition is carefully orchestrated so each designers work has their own space along with an explanation of the underlying concept, to be seen on web site and in the catalogue produced for the show. For example, the large scale sculptural 'arbour' by Matali Crasset is called Aequorea after a species of jellyfish. This piece is a 'site for lovers encounters', who can part the plastic fronds and lie together on the foam cushion, bathed in an ultra violet light, protected by the umbrella canopy which surrounds them.

The reference for Mathieu Lehanneur's sound piece (made in collaboration with François Brument) is the cult French film La Boum, where the heroine listens to a sound track of a romantic ballad on head phones, while all around her people dance to rock, and so she is seduced. Interestingly Lehanneur didn't construct The Power of Love: the gold 'fire' on the ground floor; he chose the elements; first it was generated by computer, then honed by laser, the two headphones bought. Brument made the sound piece of the fire. The two headphones are not in sync so each lover listens to a different version of the sound of the fire, a fire 'at the meeting point' of desire.                     

And so, the lovers proceed upstairs - a more explicit and intimate scenario. Arik Levy's Confessions Installation is a ten part piece, not a series, but different takes on stages of intimacy. Noting that most Parisian couple end up divorcing and that love is a fragile enterprise, here he closely places places two over size chairs, seating areas high up, thrown like, red cushions, enclosing canopied sides are pierced to aid the hearing/telling of confessions. Nearby three furniture objects - Dick / Pussy / Ass - can be moved, a kind of game - which seen along side explicitly sexual photographs of fruits and flowers - are pure in form but this English speaker found the naming questionably crude. Levy also presents Love Chair, Hug( DVD), The Sounds of Confessions (in collaboration with Leon Milo), with the Powered by Jimmyjane 'vibrator sculpture' and the Love Rug with bondage ribbons both definitely passing from foreplay into sex.

However one feels about the sexual nature of the works upstairs, the presentation is architecturally splendid and the sound work is in a bathroom to envy, for the space is also an artist's studio/residence between shows. The modern context of Slott is perfect for the work in Preliminaries, contemporary, cool, white and airy. So, on leaving for the outside gritty area of the 10th arrondissement, between the stations; a last look at Belly Love by Florence Jaffrain, in the outside window. A work based 'on the soft coral found in the Indian Ocean', with essential oils, body memory foam, soft bristles to stroke you, and seductive as hell.

Preliminaries: design at the threshold of love
Until 12 February at Slott
12 rue du Chateau Landon
75010 Paris
01 40 360 718

Bonapart Paris apartments


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