When office supplies become an art exhibition

We Make Carpets use a variety of items to construct their pieces including elastics bands and paper clips

Who would have anticipated that the modest paper clip would have its big break as a carpet?

In Bend and Stretch, the three-person Dutch collective We Make Carpets uses everyday office supplies to construct intricate and enthralling pieces. Two of their installations, one assembled with paper clips and the other with elastic bands, are featured at Diagonale centre des arts et des fibres du Québec and were created in the gallery itself.

The piece made from elastic spans the length of the room, with the coloured bands stretched out between nails hammered into the wall. The bands connect and intersect, forming geometric patterns such as triangles, squares and lines.

The second piece, made from thousands of paper clips, spans over roughly six feet of the floor of the exhibit.  Hundreds of paper clips of different colours, which are placed in various directions,  create a pattern. The rows of paper clips mostly run parallel to each other but are broken up here and there by slanted pieces, adding texture.

The installations are interesting both in their complexity and simplicity.  The use of one material to create these works, such as elastic bands or tons of paper clips, makes them appear simplistic. However, from afar, the viewer can take in the colour and geometrically-inspired patterns, enjoying the overall cohesiveness of the piece. The distance at which you view the piece impacts its effect. It is fun to view them from few steps back, but it is equally interesting to get in close and take in the details. The closer you get to the piece, the more you appreciate the thousands of little parts that form the whole. If an elastic were to snap or a paperclip were to be nudged, the synchronicity would be thrown off and the installation would lose its significance.

The relationship these works have with space is intriguing. These installations are supposed to imitate carpets: the lowly rugs that children wipe their hands on and adults vacuum once in a blue moon—the item we’ve traditionally brought outside every spring, whacking with a broom to dislodge the dust. These pieces could very well be carpets – except that to step on them would destroy them. Typically, a carpet wouldn’t inspire such minute scrutiny. But in the space of the gallery, the carpets become a valuable object to be admired and interpreted.

The fragile nature of these art pieces makes us question how we use their parts. If paper clips can create something as elaborate as a carpet, maybe they are meant to do more than just secure a bunch of papers together.  The exhibition overall makes you wonder about our relationship with common, everyday stationary objects. If an elastic band can become a work of art, then practically anything can have artistic value. It just requires us to look differently at mundane objects and see their uniqueness.

Bend and Stretch is open until Oct. 15. Diagonale is open Thursday to Saturday from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m, and admission to the gallery is free.

Exit mobile version