Once Again the World Is Flat
3 July 1999
Spazio Culturale Antonio Ratti
Visiting Professor Haim Steinbach reviews his projects summoning the concepts of “frame” and “collection”. Extremely fascinated by the objects, seen as communication elements, the artist studies their formal and functional qualities, removing them from an existing context (the frame) in an attempt of looking at them in a non-structured and non-hierarchical manner, freed from any normative use. Through the continuous construction of a personal collection, which is already part of the artistic process as it requires the making of choices, Steinbach interrogates the relations that objects have among each other and with a new context. He decides not to work on the materiality of the objects, but on their collocation and their frame, namely the display and the contenitor. Calling upon institutional spaces and private collections, Steinbach’s works are based on the perpetual resignification issue from the new collocations, thus the confrontations with nex contexts and collections, in a relational dynamic that considers structures and questions them.
Haim Steinbach (b. 1944, Rehovot, Israele) lives and works in New York. He became an American citizen in 1962, and completed his studies at Pratt Institute, New York, the University of Aix-Marseille and Aix en Provence, and Yale University in New Haven. His artistic activity began in the 1960s with a series of works which explore the aesthetic and social qualities of objects. He created structures, frames and his well-known shelves conceived to present natural and everyday objects. By exploring the psychological, cultural, and ritualistic context of the art work and its role in the production of meaning, Steinbach has radically redefined the status of the object in art. From the end of the 1980s his work has deeply influenced contemporary art practices around the world.
Steinbach's work has appeared in important group exhibitions such as El arte y su doble (Madrid, 1986), Metropolis (Berlino, 1992), Documenta 9 (Kassel, 1992) and the Venice Biennale (1993, 1997). His solo exhibitions of have been organized at Capc Musée d'art Contemporain, Bourdeaux (1988); the Guggenheim Museum, New York (in collaboration with Ettore Spalletti, 1993), the Castello di Rivoli (1995) and the Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien, Vienna (1997). He currently teaches at the School of Visual Arts in New York.