Architects often design chairs. Designing a chair can be likened to designing a larger structure – albeit on a smaller scale. To Smolarska, this suggests that the body and its relation to the chair can be viewed as a part of a larger pattern: a microcosm through which to perceive our relationship to the built environment.
Smolarska’s practice is preoccupied with repetition and multiplicity, and uses these devices to evoke the uncanny and enable an event. The works in this exhibition take this strategy forward in a series of steel sculptures inspired by chair designs from the 1990s such as the MSc chair by Geoffrey Hollington (1994) and Aprile by Piero Lissoni (1996). Both are takes on 1950/60s school chair design. Paring down their aesthetic she conveys their function in the most rational way. En-masse they unsettle the context of the office/exhibition space they inhabit. Alongside these, a series of corresponding photographs are displayed of the artist sitting in other people’s chairs. These empathetic, performative acts break the coldness of steel and allow various characters to emerge – the Lounge Lover, the Faker, the Ikea Expert … Through this combination of engagements, Smolarska draws us closer to an understanding of how we exist in architecture.