From repurposed coke spoons with a Golden Arches logo at one end to a Philippe Starck chair crafted into a lamp, Tobias Wong’s “paraconceptual” works (as he liked to call them) will be available to the public starting tonight at the Museum of Vancouver.
Whether the Vancouver-born artist’s pieces evoke Marcel Duchamp or Rene Magritte, the works on display are definitely thought-provoking. I was invited to a media preview yesterday morning to learn about MOV’s newest exhibit, Object(ing): The Art of Tobias Wong and as much as I could about the man behind the work. Largely portrayed in the media, he died young; art historians are still scrambling to put the pieces of his life and work together.
In fact, many pieces in the collection had been disassembled in Wong’s New York City apartment, or had missing pieces that needed to be reconstructed for this show.
As I’d written earlier this month, Wong is considered a provocateur of contemporary design, his works manipulated to create secondary meaning. He often utilized mass-produced products in his works, showing society’s excesses (the McDonald’s coke spoon, for example) while twisting the meaning of the item’s original use. Fellow artist Douglas Coupland was friends with Tobi; this 2005 work’s story is introduced in the show by Coupland. The infamous golden spoon has a legend attached to it: McDonald’s supposedly stopped using this model of stir stick because Wong had made it look too cocaine-y.
MOV curator Viviane Gosselin took a small group of us around the exhibit, pointing out some of the key works, including this Philippe Starck Bubble chair that Wong convinced leading Italian design company Kartell to sell to him before the chair actually premiered to the public. One day before the official showing of the Starck chair, Wong debuted his own version, complete with a built-in lamp! Cheeky.
Wong subsequently gained a huge following of movie stars, luminaries, and high-profile artists who came to appreciate his work. Each of the pieces contains a story behind it, whether from an actual collaborator or friend of Tobi’s, or someone who was inspired by the piece enough to add to the conversation by having their story included here.
The exhibition starts tonight with an opening night party. Tickets are available online for both the party and the exhibition that runs through February 24, 2013.