The Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden (Dresden State Art Collections) are pleased to present the first survey exhibition of designer Robert Stadler. Initiated by the director of the Kunstgewerbemuseum, Tulga Beyerle, the exhibition ‘You May Also Like: Robert Stadler’ is curated by Alexis Vaillant and is being held at the Kunsthalle im Lipsiusbau, Dresden, from 18 March to 25 June 2017.
Working at the intersection of design, the visual arts and critical practice, Robert Stadler uses design to question social issues and imagine new ways of conceiving objects. ‘You May Also Like: Robert Stadler’ marks the first survey exhibition of his work. More than seventy of his pieces are exhibited together. Following on from his interest in objects of all kinds, Stadler has enriched the exhibition with a careful selection of historical and contemporary objects presented next to his own designs.
Alongside objects from Stadler´s own collection, a selection of twenty masterpieces and unattributed artifacts from eight of the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden collections form an integral part of the exhibition. The combination of objects from various periods results in a cross-historical “community of objects” that creates a network of meanings around five themes.
The exhibition title, derived from commercial websites, fits Stadler’s wide-ranging body of work and hints at the existence of a network of relationships activated by the diverse objects gathered in the exhibition. The catchphrase “you may also like” refers to a system based on algorithm-generated interlinked meanings that instantly create and update a consumer’s profile.
In the context of this exhibition, this formula is linked to the multi-layered nature of Stadler’s own profile. It also suggests how this particular profile “functions” with both the objects and the ideas within them. But in a world where the mechanisms of e-business are based upon “indifference and desire”, the full title also critically highlights what sums up an individual on the Internet today: the creation of a profile and the gathering of likes linked to it.
Rather than mounting a traditional retrospective mostly focused on presenting works of Stadler´s own design, this survey exhibition adopts a cross-historical approach in combining objects from various periods and by different artists. Discursively co-conceived with art curator Alexis Vaillant, the presentation is based on functions and forms that are inherent in the designer’s work.
Strategically displayed in the exhibition space, the result is a cross-historical “community of objects” that creates a network of meanings. The exhibition is divided into five themes: (1) Artificial Intelligence, (2) the Morphing of the Natural into the Artificial, (3) Forms of Randomness/Control and Fragmentation, (4) Instability and Fetishism and (5) Informed Objects. Generated by the body of work itself, these themes not only structure the amplified presentation of the designer’s own work, but also provide new perspectives on all the works presented. Rather than drawing a conclusion, they mark a starting point for an investigation of our times. In response to the five themes, a five-part installation without walls or corridors unfolds in front of an oversized back-lit screen. A specific surface that connects the “community of objects” exhibited to the digital world.
Robert Stadler works in various fields, obliterating any hierarchies separating freely made proposals from industrial or public commissions. He questions the status of the object as a work of art or product, and challenges the frontiers between preciousness and lowliness, seriousness and absurdity. By presenting the boundary-free field that characterizes his body of work, the exhibition ‘You May Also Like: Robert Stadler’ is motivated by and responds to the contemporary world.
A world where fads can develop, flourish, and die out in the space of a single week; where the aura of the image has dissolved into infinite repeatability and therefore complete disposability; and where postmodern apathy often appears to be the only response to a constant barrage of brands, memes, and general e-detritus. Stadler creatively explores that world in relation to our utopian, all-designed surroundings.