~MAX HEIGES . . TAPED CHAIRS / ‘Perpetual Screw’ / with a side of Shaker


Perpetual Screw ?
be careful – what you wish for / as the world turns,
towards the end game of a future entropy.

this, fairly ‘cold-hearted’ exhibit, and, I say that with admiration, but . . playful exhibit /
takes talk about craft vs design vs art – to the wall, so to speak; despite the folksy, text-driven exhibit mission statement hand-out, with it’s brief, vintage tales of the first ‘found objects’ to be exhibited for their own intrinsic shapes, and consequent beauty, and, not so much for their utilitarian, everyday function.

for me, the work presented here comes more heavily down on the side of design, rather than craft / even though the over-all theme would be: tools. when you are talking about de-construction, up-cycling, mutation, and customization, to me that is design, and contemporary design at that. and, seriously, what’s wrong with that ?
craft, or design . . done well = art.

I personally, regard craft more as older determination, or label / coming from the days when ‘objects’ were truly hand-made, i.e. crafted / as opposed to mass-made, and, then industrial meaning by factory, which still could mean man-made decoration, etc. Early European ‘art’ was a much more glorified, religious-based expression. going back further, to earlier civilizations / I don’t think there was much difference between art or craft, except perhaps some things were more functional, others more decorative, and still others, more ritualistic.

I think the concept of design comes in, with the growing ‘fanning out’ of art, such as portrait painting, stenciling, calligraphy, and highly skilled porcelain, just to name a few. It’s a kind of less ‘spiritual/divine’ / and involves a more self-conscious human mind-set, of vernacular ‘invention’, and ‘function’.

A lot of the objects in ‘Perpetual Screw’, case-in-point: Max Heiges’ taped chairs and bench . . celebrate ‘De-construction’, and also, often; it’s sister concept of ‘sustainability’. these are both fairly new concepts, or ‘creative conceits’; within the vast history of art, and craft / both, bottom-line focused on ‘the making of…’ / with no inkling of global ‘end game’.

Deconstruction and sustainability, are fairly contemporary, newly-birthed topics, and in my mind that makes them lean more into design, and consciousness / vis-a-vie craft, in that they also concern less purely ‘artisanal’ skill / and, more ‘intent’.

though it’s also curious to think, that tools, and the crafted / objects which they can make, carve, incise, spin, melt, and cobble together / especially in years gone by . . and by especially indigenous peoples, were said to hold ‘spirits’; while many of the ‘twisted’, or manipulated, customized, and up-cycled tools, and/or their results / which we see in this exhibit / just might be talking about ‘entropy’, and the ‘new now’ / as opposed to encapsulating ‘spirituality’ / though things take a turn more to the playful, than the dire, this time – around.
and turns out a short week later, the world can take a turn to the dire, all on it’s own.

MAX HEIGES, ‘Tall Chair, (Lime Green), 2023.
steel, plastic ratchet straps / 47 x 16 x 22 in.
so great, how this was placed, almost hidden /
like a . . second thought /
and, then when you catch sight of it – you wonder:
well, is it safe to sit on ?
knowing a few previous works by this artist, I would venture to say that the apparent ‘fragility’ of the chair is a mere ruse, and a much hoped for (design) illusion / and, that its underpinnings are indeed, fairly stout, and strong. it’s a bit of an ode, to the history of a specific kind of chair-making, starting with early twig / basket-inspired woven cane, to the more fabric-driven Shaker chairs, with their handwoven-tape seats, and backs, peaking in the 1930s. as well as tip-of-the deconstructed hat – to modern garden / patio furniture. it’s all about . . illusion and disorder / fun and decorative ‘vernacular’, high design . . of a lowly object.

MAX HEIGES, ratchet chair, 2023.
again, the staging was totally forlorn and yet, conceptually playful..
when everything is all cold concrete, and steel, of a very minimal utilitarian architecture, a tab ‘futuristic’ too, you do want some . . . ‘secrets’, some incongruent tangents.
and, perhaps a touch of ‘romantic’, or non-sentimental ? . . insouciance, anybody ?

MAX HEIGES, ‘Yellow Bench’, 2023.
steel, plastic ratchet straps.


@shakermuseum: “No. 3 production rocking chair with arms, South Family, Mount Lebanon, NY / ca. 1875-1900
Object ID:2008.8.1. / Chair constructed of maple, with taped seat and back of bright red. Turnings stained dark. ‘Production’ refers to the fact that this chair was produced for sale, rather than (Shaker) village use. All Shakers were matched to some kind of handwork to benefit the community, which includes making items for sale. The Shaker Chair industry was an important source of income, and the South and Second Families at Mount Lebanon were particularly known for their chairs.”
image & text / via Instagram @shakermuseum