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A few thoughts on (exhibition) design

May 14, 2020 | JMW News

Much of the material shown in the exhibition originates from the 19th century, when the Ephrussi family was very active economically and culturally in Vienna and Paris. There is the sentence by Walter Benjamin, where he compares the dwelling to a shell that bears the impression of its occupant. “…the residence as a receptacle for the person, and it encased him with all his appurtenances so deeply in the dwelling’s interior that one might be reminded of the inside of a compass case, where the instrument with all its accessories lies embedded in deep, usually violet folds of velvet” (Walter Benjamin, The Arcades Project, trans. Howard Eiland and Kevin McLaughlin, Cambridge, MA and London: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1999, p. 220). We attempted to capture a bit of the mood and denseness of the spaces of that time, and to make the meticulous references with which things and objects were linked visible. The exhibition features a graded color scheme, which, like a graphic envelope, differentiates the domains and creates niches, reliefs and frames. In addition, vivid letters and information panels emerge from the wall.

© Christoph Panzer

Important stations are staged as scenes, formed out of the photo of an interior as wallpaper, the image of a formative person, original objects and a literary quotation. Props from the family’s history are occasionally reinterpreted: Charles’s yellow armchair as velvet-covered seating furniture, the carpet in Emmy’s Viennese dressing room.

© wulz.cc

The netsuke figurines, the real stars of the exhibition, are presented in showcases and run like a common thread through the spaces — an exhibition in the exhibition. The display cases appear light and floating, in contrast to the heavy interiors of that epoch. We arranged the individual netsuke in a playful way in which they otherwise probably rarely coincide: by size, by color, or as a group with dangerous sea monsters — every visitor can discover the principle for herself/himself.

Several of the historical photos are enlarged as reproductions, in front of which an interesting text passage or a quotation is superimposed on a transparent glass pane. Internally we call them text images, with the intention of interrelating the atmosphere of the image and the text.

Farbsystem © Schuberth&Schuberth