Alone Together

Alone Together.


It is safe to say that many of us, these days, crave empty space.

Who hasn’t had a melt-down in IKEA? Or felt helpless and overwhelmed in a Costco or other Big Box market? Or design fair? Or art fair?  Who hasn’t found deep satisfying pleasure in a solitary walk? Or even an empty seat next to you on the subway? New luxury.

We are social animals, yes. Recent studies say friends help us live longer. But what about crowds? What about stuff? What is it about things that they can be experienced as good or evil?

I am guilty of putting more things into the world. These things (usually lights) are thought, designed, engineered, crafted and exhibited and then sold, installed and used. Heavy things often. Things made with materials from the planet sometimes filtered through the craftsman’s workshop or sometimes through the science lab. My hope is that these things remain useful and passed on from generation to generation. I try to be an heirloom designer. So I can sleep at night.

On a recent Saturday we emptied out the “garage”, actually a small closet in our loft.  It had not been cleaned out for a few years and in there we discovered small antique family treasures and also prototypes, color samples, paint cans, sports equipment, jugs of emergency water (just in case), Burning Man detritus, and a lot of junk that never had a chance in this world; was never meant to survive. Fleeting junk, almost worthless from the moment it left the shop/factory/mind of the maker.  

There are entire populations who have no idea what I am talking about. They can make something utilitarian or decorative from nothing, because they have had to make do with what comes along.  And for those people, my pile of junk, destined for the recycle bin or worse, could be a treasure trove.  It is enough to make a person think twice about the distribution of goods, money, justice, fairness, luck and representation in the world. Huh.

At Assab One, the spaces are vast and generous, in all ways. There is no pretension of Showroom slickness or Gallery exclusivity. The spaces have intentionally been left pretty much like they were when the printing machines were finally removed and then these huge spaces no longer had an obvious raison d’etre. 

Alone Together is an installation of empty space punctuated with two immersive light environments. The first, which must be walked though, must be navigated, is a simple construction, asymmetrical, made with humble painted plywood and industrial components.  It is called “Let’s Get Lost”, after the Chet Baker song because it is a jazz light. Improvised. 

The second piece, Mandala, is symmetrical and translucent, with bright overlaying colors and sleek luminous planes. It is meant for seeing from a distance because distance is a luxury! And you can also enter and have the experience of being inside light.

In between Mandala and Let’s Get Lost, some precious empty. Dark empty. Industrial memory empty. Mindful empty. Rare and joyful, non-commercial, contemplative empty.  Ahhh.

Johanna Grawunder / Assab One
February, 2018