[Tobias Wong. Photo credit: Dean Kaufman]
Next month, the Museum of Vancouver will present an extensive solo exhibition of internationally acclaimed Vancouver artist Tobias Wong in Object(ing): The Art/Design of Tobias Wong.
[Tobias Wong: Shitting Gold]
Wong is considered to be “contemporary design’s most nimble provocateur”, according to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, as well as a conceptual design pioneer. The artist appropriates, manipulates, manufactures, mass-produces, and re-issues everyday objects — from candies and dollar bills to box cutters and neon signs — in the process pouring new meanings into them.
“Tobias’ work and artistic trajectory are fascinating,” explains Viviane Gosselin, MOV curator and project lead. “I view Tobias as a poet who didn’t play with words but with objects; most of the time, familiar ones. He took the mundane, the utilitarian, and turned it into incredible sculptures. People ‘get it’ because it’s funny or it connects to popular culture and current events. However, more deeply considered, you can see all these clever references to the history of art/design.”
[Tobias Wong: Money Pad]
Although Wong calls Vancouver home, his work is better known internationally. At the age of 20, Wong left Vancity to study architecture in Toronto, eventually relocating to New York City to attend Cooper Union School of Art’s prestigious sculpture program. His career soon took off in a big way, provoking responses from globally recognized designers such Alessi, Philippe Starck, Karim Rashid (my top three industrial designers right there), and brands including Burberry. Wong kept close ties with his friends, family, and collaborators in Vancouver.
[Tobias Wong: Box Cutter]
Object(ing) will feature over 50 pieces, including well known works Bulletproof Quilted Duvet, the Ottoman, the “I Want to Change the World” book, and This is a Lamp. Some items have been re-issued specifically for this project (based on documentation and assistance of original collaborators). Reissuing works will allow new audiences to see pieces like Room Partition, the Anus sign that hung in the window of his New York East Village apartment, Chocolate Wood produced in collaboration with Chocolate Arts, and a series of candies created for Papabubble, a high end candy store based in NYC.
“I no longer worry about what title people give me,
I’m happy being whatever fits the context.
I don’t draft or create models/prototypes,
I don’t problem solve,
and I definitely don’t make things to make life easier.”
— Tobias Wong
In 2010, Wong died suddenly at the age of 35 in his New York City home. The MOV has been incredibly fortunate to be able to work with Wong’s close friends, collaborators, family and guest curator and project instigator Todd Falkowsky in bringing this exhibition to the museum. The exhibition has mobilized the participation of over 50 collectors, curators, and artists from Vancouver, NYC, San Francisco, UK, and elsewhere, including pop culture commentator and artist Douglas Coupland and senior curator of design from the Museum of Modern Art, New York, Paola Antonelli.
Object(ing): The Art/Design of Tobias Wong
Dates: September 20, 2012 to February 24, 2013
A limited number of $15 opening night (September 19) tickets are available to the public online.
Venue: Museum of Vancouver, 1100 Chestnut Street, Vanier Park, Vancouver
Tickets: Adults, $12; Seniors, students with ID, $10; Kids 5-17, $8; available at the museum or online
All photos (except where noted) courtesy of Rebecca Blissett.