Exhibition curated by Domitilla Dardi
7 February – 15 March 2020
Alcantara and the National Museum of 21st-Century Art (MAXXI) have once again joined forces in a research project, as they have done each year since 2011, to explore the limitless potential and the multiple expressive capacities of this wonder material, especially in design and architecture.
Konstantin Grcic is the protagonist of the third edition of the “Studio Visit cycle, a programme that each year invites an internationally renowned designer to execute a personal interpretation of the works of the MAXXI permanent collection, using Alcantara® as the driving material of the work representing the installational result of his research. A designer with a pronounced curatorial vocation, Grcic picked out a fil rouge, that of fantastic architecture, that he himself detected in the MAXXI's architectural archives, placing it in direct connection with the invention of the Alcantara material.
His exhibition examines the careers of several highly visionary creators: Italian engineer Sergio Musmeci, Italian architects Giuseppe Perugini and Maurizio Sacripanti – all of whom were active during the Second World War – and contemporary Lebanese architect Bernard Khoury. In their marked tension to the project, which flirts with the concept of utopia, Grcic lays down a vision of architecture underpinned by bold creative optimism and a powerful belief in the potential for post-war regeneration.
Alcantara was founded in 1972 with an equally futuristic, positive vision. It came about as the result of an engineering project to create a new material with unrivalled sensory, aesthetic and functional properties for the world of tomorrow. The common denominator for this exploration of architecture and technology, construction and materials, and large and small scales, is faith in the potential for progress and change.
“The best projects are those that make you go on a journey to unknown territories” – Konstantin Grcic explains – “L’immaginazione al potere” made me discover the work of five different protagonists - Perugini, Sacripanti, Musmeci, Khoury and Alcantara - who, each in their own way, are travellers into uncharted dimensions. Bringing their work together in this exhibition has led to the creation of yet another unexpected vision”.
In the exhibition conceived by the German designer, a selection of the masters’ original drawings interacts with an infinitesimal enlarged image of Alcantara, thus generating a compelling visual connection. Besides, a surprising spatial installation invites the visitor to lose himself in the architectural utopia of a speculative landscape of the future, developed in collaboration with Yemenite matte painter Najeeb Alnajjar.
The fantastical landscape that Grcic has dreamed up for the MAXXI juxtaposes the works of esteemed architects with a single material. This approach opens the door to other powerful contemporary themes such as the interaction between the natural and artificial, and the relationship between humans and technology.
The resulting installation and exhibition, curated by Domitilla Dardi, Design Curator for MAXXI Architecture, conjure up an aesthetic on the boundary between reality and the surreal, where the microscopic encompasses the macroscopic.The title L’immaginazione al potere (Power to imagination) borrows from one of the slogans of the political movements of ’68, a period which gave rise both to some of the works on show and the original formulation of Alcantara. But it is also a cry of encouragement which reminds us that an alternative path to the status quo is that of the power of the imagination: the real driving force behind vision and change
The MAXXI is the first national museum dedicated to contemporary creativity. Designed as a large campus for culture, MAXXI was designed by Zaha Hadid, winner of an international competition, and is a great architectural work of innovative and spectacular forms. It produces and hosts art, architecture, design and photography exhibitions, as well as fashion, cinema, music, theatre and dance performances, lectures and meetings with artists, architects and protagonists of our time. The Collection is exhibited with free admission from Tuesday to Thursday with rotating works. The MAXXI is much more than a museum, however: it offers a platform open to all the languages of creativity and a place for meeting, exchange and collaboration, a space open to all, a laboratory of ideas and of the future.
Konstantin Grcic (*1965) was trained as a cabinet maker at The John Makepeace School for Craftsmen in Wood before studying Design at the Royal College of Art in London. He set up his own office in Munich in 1991. Today Konstantin Grcic Design is based in Berlin. The office is active in several fields ranging from industrial design projects, exhibition design and architectural collaborations. Amongst his renowned clients are Aeance, Authentics, Cassina, ClassiCon, Flötotto, Flos, Galerie Kreo, Kettal, Laufen, Magis, Muji, Nespresso, Plank, Smart and Vitra. He is the recipient of numerous awards such as the Compasso d`Oro for his MAYDAY lamp (Flos, 2001), the MYTO chair (Plank, 2011) and the OK lamp (Flos 2016). Work by Konstantin Grcic forms part of the permanent collections of the world´s most important design museums (a.o. MoMA/New York, Centre Georges Pompidou/Paris). Grcic defines function in human terms, combining formal strictness with considerable mental acuity and humour. His work is characterised by a careful research into the history of art, design and architecture and his passion for technology and materials.