Tate Modern  Untitled gallery, Level 2
19 February – 10 April 2005

On 19 February a new exhibition will open in the Untitled Gallery at Tate Modern by SIMPARCH, a collaborative group based in the USA. SIMPARCH, whose name is a derivative of ‘simple architecture’, is led by artists Matt Lynch (born 1969 Indiana) and Steve Badgett (born 1962, Illinois), who have been working together since 1996. This will be the first exhibition of their work in the UK.

SIMPARCH are interested in how the development of new building materials and practices has shaped the way that people live and respond to their environment. Previous projects have tended to be large-scale and interactive installations, for example Freebasin, (2000), a large wooden bowl designed for skateboarding and Clean Livin’ (2003) which involved the transformation of a former military base in Utah.

For the exhibition at Tate Modern, SIMPARCH have taken their work in a new direction and have been inspired by a popular American DIY manual entitled Plywood Working for Everybody from the 1960s. Using patterns from this manual they have created around ten objects using plywood. Presented in an unpainted, generic state rather than as finished items, the selection is quirky and includes Fishing Tackle Cabinet, Storage Headboard and Hobby Chest. These may all be considered elements of an affluent, post-war vision of suburban domestic living, as their need is fuelled by the ownership of material goods rather than basic necessity.

In the 1960s plywood was a cheap new material that was to transform the way that people furnish their homes and organise their lives. It was no longer necessary to employ the services of skilled craftsmen to make furniture. This change in approach has led ultimately to the development of the ‘flat-pack’ self-assembly kits popular at modern DIY shops. SIMPARCH’s interest in the fabricated material of plywood originates in part from a reaction to the Arts and Crafts movement which insisted on high-quality hand-made objects.

This is the fifth exhibition of the Untitled series at Tate Modern and is curated by Catherine Wood, Tate Curator. Untitled is a series of contemporary exhibitions dedicated to presenting new work by international artists not widely exhibited in the UK.

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