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Milan 2013: What to do with Plaster?

Curated by Claudia Linders, Marie Ilse Bourlanges en Elena Khurtova, the KABK presentation in Milan incorporated design, process and finished ‘product’. Each day the exhibition grew with new additions by the students and alumni, an impressive and dynamic way to present the school. 

By Cassandra Pizzey / 18-04-2013

What better way to promote your academy than with live performances, must have been the though of the Royal Academy of Art, The Hague (KABK) this year as it signed up for its Ventura Lambrate presentation. The loud, fascinating and sometimes downright scary projects on show were a testament to the school’s varied programme. 

Showing on a smaller scale in Zona Tortona in previous years, the light, open space that hosted Live Factory Make My Day was a complete turnaround, giving the students more room to work, show their processes and designs. 

The exhibition focussed on three main themes, Production, Performance and Exhibition. Indeed, students of various departments demonstrated their working process, all dressed in white lab coats, creating the feeling of a production line at a factory – a feeling that was enhanced by the industrial space itself. 

Given plaster to work with, many different creations could be found such as the necklaces and carpet named Fragmentures by Anne Kranenborg. “You can’t wear them as they are but have to break the plaster in order for it to become a functioning object, the same goes for the carpet.” Thus becoming unique objects to their user. 

Graduate Maarten Schenkveld took his performance WITHIN BOUNDARIES to the KABK show and presented viewers with his work process. Designing a process with fixed restrictions – which can be decided by the maker – Schenkveld created a series of vases using a vacuum pump. Within his performance the designer develops a language of images that puts the designer, the material and the fixed restrictions in an intriguing triangular relationship. 

Something from a horror movie, or at least claustrophobic, was our first though when seeing Nynke Koster being covered in blue plaster. With only two small holes to breath through, this individual captures her various emotions through molds made from her own face. Certainly an unexpected journey for an interior architecture and furniture design graduate, but with an impressive outcome. 

Also impressive though is the Tapetto del Paradiso by Koster. Taking a rubber mold from the famous Lorenzo Ghiberti ‘Porta del Paradiso’ doors, at Live Factory Make My Day she presented part of a carpet taken from the eighth panel of the doors. Her reproduction is simultaneously an art historical study as a personal interpretation. 

Many of the works by students and alumni were on show such as Nikkie Wester’s projects Maypole and Stossen. The first comprised a performance of folkloric dance accompanied by her textile collection, Stossen. A series of 24 components can be arranged in different ways for different functions, a modern take on traditional dress and Dutch heritage.