Dornbracht, Berlin Biennale, 2016, Shawn Maximo

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The essentials at a glance: The topic: Dornbracht sponsors a project by the artist Shawn Maximo at the 9th Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art
The project: A toilet room setting staged at KW Institute for Contemporary Art in Berlin
The special feature: The private sphere becomes a public information centre
Timeframe: 9th Berlin Biennale (4 June - 18 September 2016)

„Public Intimacy“ revisited: Dornbracht fördert Kunstprojekt von Shawn Maximo im Rahmen der 9. Berlin Biennale für zeitgenössische Kunst

Iserlohn, June 2016
At the 9th Berlin Biennale in Summer 2016, premium fittings manufacturer Dornbracht is sponsoring a work of the artist and architect Shawn Maximo. He is constructing a unisex toilet room on the premises of KW Institute for Contemporary Art that blurs the boundaries between the private and the public sphere.

Shawn Maximo constructs the intimate place as an information centre, as a hybrid between an interior and exterior environment, a private and public zone. Instead of undisturbed privacy, the law of participation and information distribution prevails here. The bathroom is wrested from the protocols of private relief and perfunctory action to explore a more networked and casual experience. Large-format photographs of hyperreal worlds on the walls and ceiling suggest the opening-up of the space, while a large digital tablet connects with the outside world to present Berlin Biennale content. Instead of a conventional toilet, there is a squat toilet that Shawn Maximo has placed in the centre of the space to activate ‘the hub’.

The theme of conflict between intimacy and the public sphere presented here has long been a preoccupation of the fittings manufacturer Dornbracht, in its Culture Projects. It was, for example, the subject of the Dornbracht-sponsored exhibition "One on One", on view at KW in Berlin in 2012. Visitors to this exhibition were given a rather special kind of art experience. Individual, self-contained spaces were set up with works of art specifically conceived for the exhibition and only one visitor at a time was allowed in. An intimate and confrontational encounter with the work of art, instead of the collective and public perception. Following up on this, the fourth edition of Dornbracht Conversations entitled "Public Intimacy" expounded on the loss and re-positioning of privacy.

Finally, this theme was taken up by the installation The Island (KEN), which DIS, the New York artist collective – and the curatorial team of this year's Berlin Biennale – produced in collaboration with Dornbracht and Mike Meiré as co-designers. A hybrid product that interconnects the usually separate environments of the (social) kitchen and the (private) bathroom, thus challenging the learned patterns of logic and application. The Island (KEN) was seen for the first time in 2015, at the Triennale in the New Museum in New York, and then in the Musée d’Art Moderne in Paris as part of the "CO-WORKERS – Network as Artist" exhibition.

Dornbracht's sponsorship of the Shawn Maximo project allows the company to take another look at this issue. This view of the relationship between the public and the private sphere takes particular note of the increase in digitalisation – an aspect that is especially relevant for Dornbracht. As a pioneer in the industry, the company is decisively promoting digitalisation in the kitchen and bathroom environments. Dornbracht's many years of debate and discussion with art and culture constantly provide new impetus. The company has been sponsoring selected exhibitions and culture projects since 1996. Its continuous exchange of ideas with independent artists, musicians, architects and designers, has given the company an innovative view of the bathroom and kitchen environments, and decisively shaped the idea of a bathroom culture – an aspiration that also finds expression in the current brand claim "Culturing Life".

About Shawn Maximo
The forms of expression used by artist and architect Shawn Maximo range from sculpture, to digital media and design. His works have been published in the New York Times, Zeit Magazin, the architecture magazine "PIN-UP", and Interview Magazine, and have been on view at various exhibitions – including in the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art, Swiss Institute, MoMA PS1, and the Perez Art Museum in Miami.

More about Shawn Maximo on the Internet: