Nov 10, 2023–Feb 24, 2024

numen / for use:

negative space and collapsing room
Im Adambräu, Lois Welzenbacher Platz 1, 06020 Innsbruck Map
Tue–Fri 11 am–6 pm, Thu 11 am–9 pm, Sat 11 am–5 pm, an Feiertagen geschlossen

Furniture designs, interior and plaza designs, stage sets, walk-in room installations and pneumatic objects - the fields of activity of the multidisciplinary artist collective Numen / For Use, founded in 1998, are extremely diverse and increasingly overlap into a playing field for experimentation stretched between design, stage design, architecture and art, in which the theme of perception plays an essential role.

While still studying at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna, the three industrial designers Sven Jonke, Christoph Katzler and Nikola Radeljković joined forces under the label "For Use". Initially, they were primarily active in the field of furniture design and created functional products that were refined in detail, among others for internationally renowned companies such as Moroso, Zanotta, MDF Italia, Magis and Interlübke. Furniture design is still an important mainstay today, and since 2011 the collective has been working intensively with the innovative Croatian furniture manufacturer Prostoria.

From the beginning, they were involved in the independent club and art scene in Zagreb and designed exhibition architecture. For such projects, which go beyond industrial design, they introduced the label "Numen", derived from Kant's concept of the noumenon ("thing in itself"). With the commission for a stage design at the Centro Dramático Nacional in Madrid, their focus shifted to scenography from 2004 onwards, where they continue to implement very radical experiments to this day. In addition, the group realises walk-in interactive installations in museums, at festivals as well as in public spaces under such prosaic titles as "Net", "Tape", "String" or "Tube", which offer fascinating sensual-spatial experiences. They spin fragile-looking cocoons out of adhesive tapes that look as if a giant insect had been at work, weave several layers of elastic nets into oversized suspended constructions that can be climbed through, or appropriate the production system of large pneumatic objects in such a way that one gets lost in a seemingly endless 3-D net.

In 2015, Numen / For Use conceived a completely new form of installation for the exhibition "Out of Balance" in aut with "Tube Innsbruck". Based on the existing architecture, a walk-through, tube-like net construction stretched through our rooms, delighting adults and children alike.

In 2021, when we invited all those who had been actively involved in our programme in previous years to contribute to the theme "The Bodies and Space", Numen / For Use sent us a film that captivated us from the start: an interior space completely covered in latex that changes when air is added and turns inside out like a glove. This installation, originally conceived for the exhibition "Negative Space - Sculpture and Installation in the 20th/21st Century" at the ZKM Karlsruhe, can now be experienced live for the first time together with a second experimental work in aut.

negative space
"Negative Space" is a step away from the previous installations by Numen / For Use in that the concept is very much based on the group's stage designs and their theatrical transformations. The work consists of a clearly inhabited, prototypical room whose surfaces are completely covered with a layer of natural rubber. The interior surfaces of the room have been coated countless times with liquid latex milk to create a skin that is both elastic and thick, enclosing all the furniture and objects and strong enough to support and ultimately move them.

Even at rest, the room has a strange effect due to its latex layer, as if it had the skin of a living body. As soon as air is blown in under the skin, the rubber-like membrane gradually detaches itself from the walls, ceiling and floor and turns the interior, including its furnishings, inside out. The latex shell slowly falls away from the walls in folds, sweeping away the familiar "room" with all traces of daily life. If the process is reversed, i.e. if the air is sucked out, the skin moves back to its original state. While the first transformation is characterised by the force of complete destruction, the inverse transformation seems gentle and flowing, as if time were running backwards and everything was coming back into order. In this way, "Negative Space" - in reference to an essay by Sigmund Freud - playfully conveys a state oscillating between home, secret and the uncanny.

collapsing room
If in "Negative Space" the latex coating already expresses a certain otherness of space, the quality of "Collapsing Room" lies in the fact that here, before the transformation, nothing points to the surprising collapse of space and surfaces. Completely unexpectedly, the perception of the "ordinary" room is lost, the "normal" dissolves and gives way to an extremely irrational impression.

Opening on Thursday, November 9th at 7 p.m.

Talk: Thursday, November 9th at 11 a.m.
Guests: Arno Ritter, Franco Clivio, Christoph Katzler