For those of you who aren't familiar with the work of Murray Moss, this 2008 Metropolis interview is a good place to start. But insofar as a lot has changed since then—Moss shuttered his eponymous emporium after an 18-year run this past February—we were interested to check out a recent conversation between the design doyen and SVA's Alice Twemlow, Chair of the Design Criticism MFA program.
The ghettoization of Art and Design that permeates our cultural institutions, commercial galleries and auction houses, eliminates the possibility of a tertium quid (third thing) which might be greater than the sum of its individual parts. Through Moss and now through Moss Bureau, design retailer and gallerist Murray Moss has dedicated his career to blurring distinctions between genres in an attempt to dismantle such departmental thinking. In conversation with Alice Twemlow, Murray will expound on his "apples to oranges" approach to curation through which, by pairing certain disparate works, he asks his audience to search, with fresh eyes, for new conclusions.
Moss was the final guest speaker in D-Crit's Fall 2012 lecture series, which wrapped up on Tuesday, and the media-savvy folks at the SVA have done well to post a video of the entire presentation. While his rollicking monotone certainly makes for pleasant Friday afternoon background listening, here are some highlights from the talk:
- At about the 24-minute mark, speaking of Moss's (the store, not the man) autobiographical raison d'être: "Why does everybody design a chair? People design a chair because a chair elevates us—every chair is a throne. Every chair separates us, brings us off the ground, and elevates us amongst our peers."
- A few minutes later (29:30), Moss shares the "theatrical metaphor": that customers are an audience, as in a movie theater, and explains that part of the store's allure was simply based on denying customers the freedom to touch the products at their leisure.
- In response to a question about the most valuable lesson from the retail space (46:40), Moss responds that "it's reinforced my understanding that the things don't matter"; rather, it's more about the people. "I have incredible access to people, to studios... I can talk to most anybody I want, in the subject that I love—which is a very wide subject—and what the f*ck am I going to do about that asset?"
- At about 53:50, he's prompted to make some discursive remarks on the role of the curator, eventually advising students to "express yourself entirely through that one thing."
- Shortly thereafter, he elaborates on his own curatorial practice (59:10): "I was invited to do a show at the V&A last year... on 3D printing. And I thought, 3D printing. I know nothing about 3D printing, and the technology terrifies me. But [since] I've been going for 50 years to the V&A... I decided [to pick] six or 12 of my favorite things [at the museum]. So I thought, I want to use the technology to illuminate the work at the V&A."
- Another question from an audience member (1:17:40) elicits a particularly passionate response: "I like museums and I hate museums... I hate the fact that the MoMA segregates the design from the other disciplines. I think it's stupid, I think it's irresponsible, and I don't care what anybody says: It's wrong. It's totally, totally shameful... it's a disservice...
"What would be the harm of taking that Rietveld chair and moving it over, 30 meters in front of that Mondrian? What's the big deal? Who's gonna die? Is somebody gonna go, 'I never knew that the Rietveld was a painting'?"