Given Marc Camille Chaimowicz’s works are in many ways “sites” unto themselves, it can be easy to forget that the pieces themselves are also site-specific. In turn, New York’s Jewish Museum seems like the perfect space for Chaimowicz’s first solo museum exhibition in the United States, given its prior history as a family home, yet that equally omits some credit due still to Chaimowicz. The crown moldings and wood floors and banisters that make the space familiar have become part of his narrative here, yet each gallery is made distinct, and the intimate effect of his works would result even working within a white-cube gallery space. This exchange between site and space, artistic inclination and the fluid acts of design are at the center of this show.
Your Place or Mine… is organized into rooms, titled by their purpose: L’Entrée (The Entrance), La Bibliothèque (The Library), Ici et Là (Here and There), Le Salon (The Salon), and Le Jardin Publique (The Public Garden) in the gallery overlooking Central Park. In each installation the designs are shown in use−a phone off its cradle, or a hat hung on a hook−suggesting their inhabitants without quite showing them. The viewer is greeted upon arrival with a coat rack filled with jackets and a hat, as if left by other visitors rather than by the artist, immediately blurring the boundary between public and private. This introduction also creates an intimate setting that is equally rare and counterintuitive: given design’s capacity (and the intention) to alter our environments, it is surprising that an immersive exhibit of narrative and domestic design like this one would be seen as so rare.
Each room of the exhibit is organized in a different way, highlights including The Library, in which Chaimowicz’s own artist books are on view, including his World of Interiors: a zine ahead of its time that collaged over his own feature in a 2006 issue of the magazine by the same name. The work in the center of The Salon, North, is important as well, in that it shows most explicitly−perhaps along with the entry coatrack−the intimate quality of his works. The installation shows a phone dropped next to an empty glass onto cushions and a carpeted platform, suggesting a long conversation, and allowing the viewer to conjure an image that may or may not be in line with Chaimowicz’s, in terms of what gender, age, politics, or date come to mind.
The exhibit allows for every detail to reflect Chaimowicz’s work, down to the exhibition booklet printed with his wallpaper. The show manages to be witty, intimate, and challenging all at once, pointing to interesting programming ahead for The Jewish Museum, as well as Chaimowicz’s continued influence on narrowing and challenging the gaps between architecture, fine art, publication, and decorative arts. Doing this with Chaimowicz’s interest in duality, coupled with his disinterest in binary states, is a contemporary nuance that will allow his future exhibitions to continue to evolve and change, keeping perspective while ever-renewing themselves in the future.
The show closes August 5th.
— E. Macdonald
Marc Camille Chaimowicz: Your Place or Mine… [Jewish Museum]