COMPLEXITY & PRECISION: THE ART COMMISSION
A key element of Audemars Piguet's expanding activities in the sphere of contemporary art is the Audemars Piguet Art Commission, launched in 2014. The Audemars Piguet Art Commission supports artists in the creation of works of exceptional complexity, precision, and experiential impact on an ongoing, annual basis. The newly commissioned art works, overseen by an annual guest curator and selected by an international advisory board, are presented to the public to coincide with Art Basel's editions in Basel, Hong Kong, and Miami Beach. Audemars Piguet provides the necessary resources to the invited artists and secures access to advanced tools, craft expertise, or sophisticated technology to realize important new creative projects.
THE 2017 COMMISSION:
LARS JAN, Slow-Moving Luminaries
Each year, the Audemars Piguet Art Commission invites an artist to explore the themes of complexity and precision. The commission, which is overseen by a guest curator, not only provides for the resources required by the artist, but also offers access to any technical knowhow and/or expertise the artist may request in the course of realizing the work.
I find myself oscillating between impulses to contemplate reality and scream for help, and so I live between them.
Artist, activist, director, designer, writer, filmmaker, and photographer, Lars Jan is known for visually-striking, genre-bending performance and installation works exploring emerging technologies, live gatherings, and unclassifiable experience.
ABOUT THE WORK
For the third Audemars Piguet Art Commission, Los Angeles-based artist Lars Jan has created an immersive, mechanized installation in a two-level structure on the Miami Beach oceanfront. Deeply experiential, the work features floating model buildings, a series of large-format light boxes and a film — evoking the long passage of time, ephemerality, and the blurring between built and wild landscapes.
In a city gripping the very edge of the continent, “Slow-Moving Luminaries” stages a hypnotic, unsettling encounter between natural and manmade elements, compelling visitors to consider a cultural moment between civilization and chaos.
Kathleen Forde was invited to curate the third Audemars Piguet Art Commission. Her project with the selected artist, Lars Jan, will be presented during Art Basel in Miami Beach in December 2017. Based in Istanbul and New York, Kathleen Forde is Artistic Director at Large for Borusan Contemporary, Istanbul, where she has organized numerous solo exhibitions. Concurrently she is working as an independent curator with various institutions both nationally and abroad.
THE 2016 COMMISSION:
SUN XUN, RECONSTRUCTION OF THE UNIVERSE
For the second annual Audemars Piguet commission, the Beijing-based artist Sun Xun created "Reconstruction of the Universe", an extravagant time-based art work that consisted of animated films projected on flat and spherical surfaces—using both two-dimensional and three-dimensional film technology—as well as a series of woodblock prints. The multimedia installation was presented during Art Basel in Miami Beach in December 2016.
In July 2017, the 3-D stop-animation work at the heart of the commission, "Time Spy", will be presented in daily three-minute screenings just before midnight on Times Square.
The watchmakers’ amazing craftsmanship and commitment to both invention and tradition reminded me that it is essential to continually question my own thinking.
Multimedia artist Sun Xun, whose dreamlike, expressionistic work blends some of the most ancient and most technologically advanced artistic techniques, grew up in rural Fuxin, in Northeast China’s Liaoning Province, and is now based in Beijing. Whether he is using traditional Chinese ink, woodblock, or animation, his meticulous and highly complex practice explores themes of history, memory, perception, and metaphysics.
ABOUT THE WORK
"Reconstruction of the Universe" was presented under an S-curve-shaped bamboo pavilion, designed by the artist, alongside the beach. The installation’s focal point was Sun Xun’s ten-minute 3-D stop-animation work, Time Spy—a surrealistic meditation on time, cosmology, and personal history featuring hybrid animal-human creatures, curious motorized mechanisms, and dreamy landscapes ranging from visions of outer space to memories of his native China to moments captured in Le Brassus. In addition to the 3-D film, the exhibition included a display of original woodcuts and a series of spherical screens displaying Sun Xun’s animations in a full 360-degree view.
The 2016 commission’s guest curator, Ruijun Shen, brought her extensive experience as a curator and artist based in Asia to the second project in the series. She guided the selection of the Beijing-based artist Sun Xun, whose commission project was unveiled during Art Basel in Miami Beach in 2016.
THE 2015 COMMISSION:
ROBIN MEIER, SYNCHRONICITY
Robin Meier has created an intricately fragile and evocative work in which seemingly unrelated living biological entities and technological objects coexist in seemingly harmonious synchronization. It is presented to the public at the Volkshaus, in Basel, during the Art Basel 2015 show, as the first annual Audemars Piguet Art Commission. Organized by the commission's first annual guest curator, MarcOlivier Wahler, and developed with the help of international experts and researchers, the work brings to life an uncanny selfcontained unvierse while raising scientific and philosophical questions with farreaching implications.
I have always been fascinated by complex systems that somehow self-organize.
For the inaugural Audemars Piguet commission, Robin Meier created an intricately fragile and evocative work, in which seemingly unrelated living biological entities and technological objects coexisted in harmonious unison staged by the artist. The installation was presented to the public during the Art Basel’s show in Basel in 2015.
The work has since been presented at the Fondation d’Entreprise Prix Ricard, Paris, in 2016, and at the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University, in 2017.
ABOUT THE WORK
Comprising an air-locked tent stocked with pumps, ropes, metronomes, ruby-colored grow lights, various machines, plants, hundreds of LED lights, dozens of crickets, and thousands of fireflies, Meier’s "Synchronicity" is an intricate and evocative walk-in environment. Its natural and technological elements come alive in a coordinated visual and aural beat, illustrating how seemingly unrelated living biological entities and technological objects can harmonize.
Marc-Olivier Wahler is an internationally recognized curator, born in Switzerland. The former director of the Palais de Tokyo in Paris, Europe’s largest contemporary art exhibition venue, he now serves as director of the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University. The organizer of more than 400 exhibitions, Marc-Olivier Wahler also established the Chalet Society in Paris and has serves as artistic adviser for the De Appel Arts Center in Amsterdam.
COMPLEXITY & PRECISION
THEO JANSEN’S STRANDBEESTS IN MIAMI BEACH, 2014
In partnership with the Peabody Essex Museum, Audemars Piguet in 2014 presented a group of the Dutch artist and inventor Theo Jansen’s "Strandbeests" on one of America’s most iconic beaches, in conjunction with Art Basel in Miami Beach. Mesmerized visitors watched Jansen lead his wind-powered creatures in daily in public demonstrations as they roamed the sands of South Beach.
Dutch artist, engineer, and inventor Theo Jansen studied physics at Delft University of Technology. His interest in the physical sciences—specifically in aeronautics and robotics—has shaped his creative output. His is most renowned for his Strandbeests, a flock of massive, walking kinetic sculptures designed using software programs for artificial life simulation and built using ordinary electrician’s piping. He calls them “a new form of life.” His original idea was that the wind-powered creatures could push sand from the retreating water’s edge farther inland, creating a natural barrier against the rising sea.
ABOUT THE WORK
The installation in Miami Beach featured Jansen’s latest group of Strandbeests, including the thirteen meter-long Animaris Suspendisse, along with a reproduction of his workshop, on the Dutch coast, and an exhibition of Lena Herzog’s cinematic photographs documenting the evolution of the Strandbeests. While they evoke super-complex dinosaur skeletons, the Strandbeests are made of modern materials: flexible polyvinyl chloride (PVC) piping—which Jansen refers to as his “artistic protein”—plus recycled water bottles, and bicycle pumps.
After more than two decades of experimentation and development, Jansen’s "Strandbeests" have evolved from rudimentary structures to complex creatures that are able to autonomously respond to environmental conditions.