Rolf A. Kluenter

Beyond My Chair - Nepal 2006

Rolf A. Kluenter
at " HYPERDESIGN" The 6th Shanghai Biennale
by Ilse Schache

"Beyond My Chair" elaborates the juxtaposition and interdependency between the simultaneous output of individual and collective memory which entwines to form a web that embraces/encompasses culture, society, history and environment, a mesh into which we all are tied.

Through the use of the medium of film and the presence and actions of the woman, this installation links the giant paper chair, a concrete object, to the habits of everyday life in rural Nepal, where the chair does not exist. At the same time, the film's content explores the nature of the chair's materiality and its medium - paper. The fragility of its fabric belies the permanence and monumentality suggested by the chair's dimensions.

Thus, this installation underlines the binary meaning of the word 'design', bringing together insight into the rural tradition of weaving, everyday practices and the cultural context associated with ethnic design traditions, with a subversion and critique of the intention in the chair's function. This work occupies a position of duality generated by the creative process of weaving: of the paper, the two sets of imagery, the tangible and the intangible, the collective with the individual, and the modern with the traditional.

The size of the chair overthrows its purpose as an object which is used daily in contemporary urban life, since its magnitude calls into question the meaning and values which may be veiled behind the concept of its functionality. By laying the chair on its side, the work invokes a subtle political meaning while at the same time allowing for status of the woman sweeping the site to be re-positioned. In this context, the women and her act of sweeping the site has many interweaving layers of meaning and significance, including issues of guardianship/ownership, maintenance/renewal, change/destruction.

One of the most important elements in this new piece by Rolf A. Kluenter is how it examines the process of creation šC how different elements are interwoven, interchanged and combined to create something at once independent, but at the same time an inter-dependent sum of its parts. A component of this is the way the audience are included in this process, and how the audience are drawn into the work, only to underline their role as outside observers. It poses the question, where does the creative process end? Is it once the artist installs his work, or does it continue in the imagination and intellect of the audience as they view and remember the art work?

A space for imagination is provoked by the juxtaposition of the giant object and the film sequences, and provides a capsule of context which facilitates thought about the elemental processes underpinning practices of daily life. By providing us a place to move within and stand to view these phenomena, we gain the perspective needed to go beyond and stand outside our own preconceptions to perceive the Other.


Giant chair, woven from handmade Nepalese paper, utilizing a range of traditional Nepalese weaving techniques, laid on its side, legs facing outwards


Nepalese woman sitting on mat weaving smalls nets out of various materials such as paper, plastic and wire and throwing them into a traditional Nepalese basket, which will slowly overflow. She will periodically sweep the floor around the chair, repeating the words of the word chain translated into Nepalese


1. Tharu Village, Surkhet District, Mid-Western Region
2. Thame Village, Solu Khumbu District
3. Kathmandu Valley

Length: 29 minutes