Life in the world surrounding us is assembled from variously constituted—horizontal and vertical—panels or fields. The American artist Andrea Zittel observes routines, details, societal relationships and emotional sensitivities from this concentrated perspective. Walls are “panels” that form spaces that can protect or constrain; a textile is a “panel” that can provide warmth or become the site of social interaction, for instance, when serving as a picnic blanket. Zittel characterizes horizontal panels (tables, benches, streets) as “energetic accumulators” and vertical panels (billboards, walls) as “ideological resonators”, thus arriving at a modular worldview. Her works, structured from different materials and colors, are meant as the counter-balance to the over-loaded and fast-moving nature of our present-day lives. The table, stools and carpet with which Andrea Zittel made for the summer house at Haus Esters, a social site again, are also constructed from panels.
The contrasting firm and soft materials of wood and fabric reveal the technical achievement with which these simple pieces of furniture were manufactured. The geometric properties of these planar structures are highlighted by geometric patterns and warm natural colors. The room of the summer house can be observed afresh here: What is the relationship of the seating surface of the stools or the surface of the table to the bench in the house? How does height or depth or surface quality dictate how they are used? Are there standards that unnoticeably regiment one’s stay here? The carpet that forms a bench turns the surfaces of the house itself into an extension of the furniture, thus pointing to the house’s vertical and horizontal proportions as well as its volumes.
The three pieces by Andrea Zittel—table, stools and bench—are naturally integrated into the house and simultaneously address the site as a constructed, historical, social and mental space. The summer house was produced in the series of prefabricated houses in the early nineteen twenties by the Deutsche Werkstätten Hellerau—one of the major production plants within the reform movement since the late nineteenth century—and erected here in 1923, even before construction work on Haus Esters began. Thanks to standardization and rationalization, such wood houses could be reduced to their basic elements, thus lowering costs. The questions concerning the foundations of cohabitation, this starting point is synchronized by the old summer house and Andrea Zittel’s site-specific work.
The summer house is open as a café during certain fixed times. You can find the opening hours on the homepage of the Kunstmuseen Krefeld or at the ticket offices in Haus Lange and Haus Esters. www.kunstmuseenkrefeld.de
Andrea Zittel (born 1965 Escondido, California, USA) gave fresh impetus to the notions of alternative mobile living model in the nineteen nineties with portable and individually equipped containers. The basis was formed by the work in the project and studio space in Brooklyn, New York—a multistory building with changing inhabitants whose living habits Zittel studied. Zittel has continued this so-called A-Z East project since around 2000 with A-Z West in Joshua Tree, California, on a large property in the desert near Los Angeles.