Interview with Joep van Lieshout, Atelier Van Lieshout

On the occasion of the exhibition Design High at Louise Blouin Foundation in London VernissageTV met up with Joep van Lieshout, who presented the work Wombhouse in the show.

In this video, Joep van Lieshout talks about his background, his work between the poles of art and design, how his work changed over the years, his interest in the human body, the material he uses, and his current and upcoming projects such as very large installation called Cradle to Cradle, which is about the recycling of human beings and will be presented at Winzavod Contemporary Art Center in Moscow in September / October 2009.

Joep van Lieshout (born 1963 in Ravenstein, Netherlands) is the founder of Atelier Van Lieshout (AVL). He lives and works in Rotterdam since 1987. He studied at the Acacemy of Modern Art, Rotterdam. Since 1995, AVL creates work in the realm of installation, design, furniture and architecture. The name Atelier Van Lieshout emphasizes the fact that the works of art do not stem solely from the creative brain of Joep van Lieshout, but are produced by a creative team of artists, designers and architects.

One of the many applications and techniques used by AVL are the large polyester constructions in striking, bright colors. These polyester constructions, of which the large mobile home units are the best known, form the AVL trademark. Recurring themes in the work of AVL are autarky, power, politics and sex. Works of AVL can be found in private collections and several museums.

The work Wombhouse (2004) that is on display at the Design High exhibition at Louise Blouin Foundation is a utility unit that acts as the technical core for a house. AVL describes it as follows: “The womb is not only every human’s first dwelling, but also the only human body part that can be inhabited by another individual. Prefabricated, the technical core contains all of the essential functions of a building: sanitation, kitchen, heating, ventilation. Normally, this core is an anonymous, square object. By contrast, Wombhouse has an exciting, poetic and enchanting shape. The womb contains a bedroom in the uterus – the safest place in the mind of human beings – along with heating, air-conditioning, electrical systems, a kitchen and a shower. One ovary contains the minibar; the other the toilet. Wombhouse can make any space function as a home; the structure requires only a roof and walls to protect it from the climate. Put the plug in the socket, and everything will work.”

AVL’s workshop is situated in a large old warehouse in the harbors of Rotterdam. Artworks and a host of other products begin their lives here before traveling to points around the globe. The workshop has different departments, a fiberglass, sculpture, wood, and metal workshops. AVL’s 20 employees have different backgrounds and origins.

Design High / Louise Blouin Foundation, London. Interview with Joep van Lieshout. June 24, 2009. Design High runs until August 30, 2009.

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