Born 1972 I Lives and works in New York
The Danish designer Hans Wegner once described the style that emerged in the mid twentieth-century from his country as “a continuous process of puri cation...of simpli cation.” In 2012, Luis Gispert took this statement as fodder for “Puri - cation Simpli cation,” a series of photographs that feature arrangements of recognizable mid-century European designs collaged with objects that signify luxury in other cultures: gold chains, diamonds. Just as it highlights the relationship between ornamentation, wealth, and pretention, the series underscores the darker valences of Wegner’s statement. Of course, the notion of puri cation in mid-century Europe had dire social implications that are, as we have seen emphasized in recent months in the United States, still festering.
In his new series of black-and-white silver gelatin prints, Gispert expands upon this inquiry into identity, design, and the body, turning speci cally to the forms of mid-century Finnish design. Not coincidentally, 2017 marks the centennial of Finland’s independence, and when the country’s sleek aesthetic based on social optimism, democracy, and functionality was seeded. Drawing from the objects housed in the collection of Juhani Lemmetti by such designers as Eliel Saarinen, Alvar Aalto, and Yrjö Kukkapuro, Gispert produced images, in studio, of nude bodies variously engaging with the furniture. In Aalto Ass, for example, the hourglass form of a woman’s lower torso is seen, from behind, as it perfectly crests an Aalto stool. In other images, Kukkapuro chairs are piled and set precariously, obscuring bodies that bend and fold to meet the conditions of the arranged objects. These works, which allude to the surrealist images of Man Ray as well as the fractured bodies of Hans Bellmer, explore the ways in which design—and its political, social, and aesthetic agendas—always re ects and shapes human behavior, and how objects inform not only our bodies, but our understanding of ourselves.