Bent, pressed, compressed, welded and then copied.
A Jean Prouve chair from the collection of Musée d'Art Moderne - St-Etienne reproduced in Congo, Africa.
Based on drawings of the chair craftmen in Brazzaville produced a series of Jean Prouve chairs.
SUPERFLEX was invited by the Musée d’Art Moderne, Paris (2012) to work with its design collection. SUPERFLEX proposed this tool, which responds to the cult of modern design as well as to the fetishism of the museum collection. Borrowing Jean Prouvé’s statement about working on sheet steel, a material that in his words is “bent, pressed, compressed, welded,” SUPERFLEX added to this statement “then copied.”
Accordingly, SUPERFLEX made an exhibition of design works by Jean Prouvé or his workshops. SUPERFLEX selected the famous “Cafeteria” Prouvé chair which had been manufactured by a furniture maker in the Congo-Brazzaville when it was a French colony. They had exact drawings made of this chair and then gave them to a furniture maker from Congo-Brazzaville, who made reproductions of the chair from these drawings.
SUPERLEX’s work conjures up, mirror-like, the African history of Jean Prouvé’s furniture, and the back-and-forth historical movement going hand-in-hand with it: an initial period when these models, in particular, and the western modernist model, in general, were distributed; and then, from the 1990s on, a second period when these objects were re-appropriated, in France and in the West. This re-appropriation, which immediately culminated in speculation on the objects’ value, has been regarded as a form of disguised post-colonialism.
SUPERFLEX takes up the story at this juncture, where the movement seems closed: it reverts to the sender, by having the famous “Cafeteria” chair reproduced in Africa. In so doing, it contests the exclusive appropriation made by the West, as it deactivates any possibility of reverse speculation, by introducing a copying system for these new rare pieces, resuming its fight against the copyright.
Text written by Daniel McClean for the publication "The Corrupt Show and The Speculative Machine"