Classifying is not everything
von Claudia Beckmann | Jun 3, 2009

They landed in the semi-dark room, the deliberately unidentifiable objects by some forty artists and designers, objects that without exception are something in between art, design, and design art, but that at first sight are difficult to categorize. The exhibition has got a lot of things right: The exhibits are all high-quality, a representative selection was made, but it is primarily the conceptual approach of foregoing categorizing the objects and leaving it up to the observer to decide whether it is art or design, that is most effective.

The refreshing, uncommented treatment of this difficult, much discussed theme was the correct decision. The U.F.O. exhibition in Düsseldorf has achieved something that cannot be gauged, indeed in the field it addresses if anything seemed improbable: creating value added and getting the observer involved. The show is not a classic art exhibition, but it is also something different from a design event, and has created a third aspect: a place, in which one willingly surrenders what is still a structured mindset with regard to free and applied art, about purpose and freedom of purpose and addresses the things themselves and the questions that emerge.

Just how enthusiastic the responses are was clearly tangible on the opening evening. Everywhere there were smiling faces and relaxed happy people investigating and discussing the UFOs in an astonished, questioning manner. But first and foremost in an easy-going style, deriving great joy from design and art.

Among the visitors one also came across a number of designers and artists involved in the exhibition, who were easier to identify than their objects. The extent to which the curators' concept was also appreciated by the exhibitors could be sensed not least of all from the lively discussions. This is also evident from the enormous response to the NRW Forum's blog on the topic.

Work of art or design object, the question "What is What?" is suspended, Werner Lippert from the NRW Forum said at the opening, "these are far more hybrids, in which both fields meld, in which design aspects migrate to art - just as much as vice versa." So the UFOs have landed. They exist and it is well worth taking a closer look at them.

Photos © Franziska Holzmann