Rubus Armeniacus (Himalayan blackberry)

“Rubus Armeniacus is an exemplary political decoration, a nutritious ornament that clandestinely modifies infrastructural morphology. Here, affect invades the center. Rubus inverts and puns upon the proprietous subordination of affective expenditure to intelligence. Tracing a mortal palimpsest of potential surfaces in acutely compromised situations, Rubus shows us how to invent. This is the serious calling of style.”

– Office for Soft Architecture, Rubus Armeniacus: A Common Architectural Motif in the Temperate Mesophytic Region (Cabinet Magazine, Issue 6 Horticulture, Spring 2002)

 

Decoration is a poetic and political force. Though the Arts and Crafts movement advocated for decoration’s importance, the decorative arts succumbed to society’s shift towards machine production and division of labor. The result was the chastening of decorative arts into “design” – a cultural form that became inextricably linked with the growth of capitalism. Modernism’s disavowal of ornamentation engendered a negative relationship between Western architecture and anything that could be thought of as “decorative”. Recently, decoration has been somewhat rehabilitated as a concept in art and architecture, but it remains politically fraught.

To decorate one’s home is an artistic practice, but it is always situated in the economy and the pursuit of exchange value. Interior decorating displays one’s taste and style through the collection and curation of objects and furnishings. The formal focus of Modernist discourse often obscured hidden layers of social and economic determinants, but decoration always has some political content. Through consumer culture, home decoration posits the inhabitant within the field of social capital as a means to justify materialism. It is not a mere visual spectacle. It is also a mechanism that reinforces and disseminates the encoding of socio-political structures, and thus reifies capitalist ideologies. Decoration facilitates and reproduces privileges and class status and with that, exclusion.

Today, the domestic environment can be considered one of the primary sites where radical change is taking place in everyday life. We exist in a moment in which we are able to reassess the line between leisure and labor. Like many activities today, decorating is both pastime and work. It’s a hobby that makes home life more pleasurable, while at the same time adding to the value of one’s financial and social capital, bolstering the overall value of the home.

Rubus Armeniacus (Himalayan blackberry) presents works by nine artists and architects. The works offer ways to understand the rapid social, economic, and environmental shifts our increasingly neoliberal society is undergoing today, and attempts to unpack the implications of decoration as a carrier of both personal and political meaning.

_________

Featuring works by Denise Scott Brown (b. 1931, Nkana, Zambia), Milano Chow (b. 1987, Los Angeles, CA), Samuel Farrier (b. 1989, Woodland, CA), Ficus Interfaith (Ryan Bush, b. 1990, Denver, CO and Raphael Martinez-Cohen, b. 1989, New York, NY), Nora Maité Nieves (b. 1980, San Juan, PR), Kayode Ojo (b. 1990, Cookeville, TN), Sean Raspet (b. 1981, Washington, DC), Libby Rothfeld (b. 1990, New Brunswick, NJ), and Allan Wexler (b. 1949, Bridgeport, CT)

Curated by Jessica Kwok

 

Jessica’s Apartment is open by appointment only To schedule an appointment: email jessica.s.kwok@gmail.com or call +1 (347) 443-3549 For press inquiries: email jessica.s.kwok@gmail.com

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Water Chesnut Frieze, 2019

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