Laocoon phantom
installation, 2007

Metal chair frame, foam, tires, digital prints

The idea of “functional” sculpture, sculptural furniture and especially sculptural seating intrigued me for a long time. In my quest for personification of an object I was influenced by ceremonial furniture of the primitive cultures and by contemporary artists and designers who created furniture for their own personal use as well as for public purpose.

The sculptural chair consists of a rigid metal frame that provides functional support and the attached soft and flexible rubber tubes holding its shapes by inflated air.

The concentric tubes coiled around the frame making reference to the classic Thonet bentwood rocker of the late 19th century and the formal but comfortable chairs of the early 20th century.

But the cold and smooth surface of rubber, flexibility and strength of the material evoke the image of a creeping reptilian creature and its malicious nature. The shape of the seat, resembling the sharp teeth of some instrument of torture, contradicts the soft and seductive texture of foam.

The “Laocoon” chair was originally a part of a sculptural set that has been constructed for the choreographer Lisa Para during our collaboration. She had chosen the smaller one for her dance and this version stayed with me and got a name and a separate life. When a male dancer came to my studio I decided to enact the famous statue of Laocoon from the Vatican Collection and made a sequence of photographs that show stages of a struggle.

In classical mythology Laocoon was crushed to death by two enormous snakes that the gods sent after him and his sons, thus punished a human who dares to interfere in their affairs.

A body of the dancer constricted by the creature/chair can be interpreted as a metaphor for man’s struggle with dark forces of nature, superior powers or simply an office-seating environment.