Flying City Tableware, 2010
Set of plates and cup
Edition 25 + 3 AP
L×W×H: 3,5 × 3 × 3 m
Porcelain, steel, leather
At the core of his work, which Carsten Höller
has presented hitherto at the Tate Modern, London, at the Kunsthaus Bregenz, and in the Guggenheim Museum, New York, amongst others, is the perpetual question of the conventions that govern the way we lead our lives and whether indeed it is possible to imagine things in a fundamentally different way. In developing the FLYING CITY TABLEWARE (2010) for the Porzellan Manufaktur Nymphenburg, Carsten Höller has devised an edition that takes up this theme in a new way.
The tableware comprises a combination of a service plate, a dinner plate, a side plate, and a teacup and saucer, each decorated with a design relating to two fundamentally different sources: on the one hand, Georgy Krutikov’s design for a FLYING CITY (1928) and, on the other, the rotating Benham top or disc (1894–95), eponymously named after its inventor, Charles Benham. Höller chose Wolfgang von Wersin’s LOTOS Service
(1932) upon which to present the motif - tableware that belongs to the classical Nymphenburg services of the New Sobriety and reflects, in its elegant simplicity, the functional aesthetics of the avant-garde period.
Carsten Höller has already used both motifs in earlier works: the Benhamesque stripes in Masonwheel (2001) and latterly Krutikow’s visualworlds in The Double Club (2008-09) in London. He brings bothmotifs together for the first time in the "Flying City Table Ware".
The "Flying City Tableware" is produced in two different versions. The wall installation - a unique specimen that Höller will be presenting until 25 April 2010 in Rotterdam - comprises eight hand-painted plates, each mounted on a rotating mechanism and connected to one another by a leather transmission belt. The plates can be rotated at a maximum of 600 revolutions per minute, by means of a manual crank. From about 300 revolutions, the effect discovered by Benham, whereby the black and white graphic design is perceived in colour, starts to emerge. In the installation, the dynamisation inherent in the motifs is achieved through actual mechanical motion. At the same time, the tableware is intended for use: service plate, dinner plate, side plate, and teacup and saucer are also available in a limited edition of twenty five signed services, each designed for two people. A table centrifuge for the rotation of the Benhamesque plates also forms part of this edition.
Carsten Höller’s FLYING CITY TABLEWARE for the Porzellan Manufaktur Nymphenburg is both a continuation as well as a premiere. It follows directly on from collaborations with the most prominent representatives from fields closely connected to porcelain manufacture: for example, not only the cooperation, both ongoing and developing since the 1990s, with renowned industrial designers such as Konstantin Grcic, Hella Jongerius, and Clemens Weisshaar and Reed Kram; but also the COMMEDIA DELL’ARTE–COUTURE EDITION (2008), to which sixteen leading international couturiers, including Vivienne Westwood, Christian Lacroix, and Gareth Pugh, were invited to design a new “costume” for each of Franz Anton Bustelli’s COMMEDIA DELL’ARTE figurines (1759-60).
Carsten Höller is the first contemporary fine artist to participate in this series who, like the product and fashion designers previously invited, can look back on a considerable international career. He has established the starting point for a series of editions that will continue in the near future, with artists such as Tobias Rehberger, winner of the Golden Lion at the 2009 Venice Biennale, and Joep van Lieshout.