Free Things: Artistic research project inspired by the collection of The Wende Museum

A project by Dutch visual artists Daphne Rosenthal and Richtje Reinsma from the Netherlands, with assistance of The Wende Museum's Chief Curator Joes Segal and kindly supported by the Mondriaan Fund.

The work Long Distance (2015) is one of the results of the ongoing project and was on view at The Wende Museum from Sunday June 14 - Sunday July 12, 2015.

Richtje Reinsma and Daphne Rosenthal stayed in Los Angeles for five weeks (May 12 to June 17, 2015) to research the everyday objects from the collection at the Wende Museum. During the project they worked as a collective under the name DRR.

The first category of objects DRR chose to work with was telephones, appliances that connect the private, public, and political spheres and embed every home, office, and institution in the same infrastructure controlled by the state. In drawings, photos, and film DRR tried to get as close as possible to the phones fallen silent, scrutinizing the scratched and worn surfaces of their casings, peeping into their mechanical intestines, supplying them with symbolic sound using ‘loud’ drawings and cut-out onomatopoeias (textual sound-imitations).

How to begin to imagine what kind of information has passed through those now museum-based phones? DRR tries to evoke what the unknown mouths and ears may have been sharing and hiding while handling them.

Watch the rough cut of the phone-film here.

The photos show part of the work in progress on the phones.

DRR continues its project in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. The second part of Free Things deals with push buttons, an idea inspired by the famous Kitchen Debate between Nixon and Khrushchev in 1959, at the occasion of the opening of the American National Exhibition in Moscow. Standing in front of a model of a kitchen featuring novelties such as a dishwasher and a washing machine, the two world leaders entered into a heated debate on the importance of domestic technology that eventually lead to an exchange of military threats.

In a world increasingly operated through push buttons, it’s all about clean, easy, and efficient control. The gesture required to operate the button of a vacuum cleaner is the same as the one needed for launching a nuclear weapon. DRR is looking for the promise and the threat of the push button, the unfathomable world at our finger tips and its unknown territories beyond the switch, the display and the interface.

Long Distance Work in Progress Work in Progress