Nature Morte Vivante is a retrospective of Patricia Urquiola’s design, at the 2020 Madrid Design Festival, curated by Ana Dominguez Siemens.
Far from an exhibition-showcase, she has aimed to offer a perspective of her work that is neither chronological nor exhaustive, but rather divided into five groups of objects as if they were “bodegones”, not still lives. To this end, we tried to establish an affinity with two bodegones, one by Dalí (Nature Morte Vivante) and another by Remedios Varo (Still Life Resurrecting) where the objects look as though they were animated. This depiction resonates with the objects in the exhibition because they continue to be full of life, even when they show the passage of time and distilled memory. Patricia Urquiola´s career reveals a “rhizomatic” attitude towards projects, a type of mindset that is also her work method. Thus, all the elements involved have the same importance and influence each other horizontally, without imposing hierarchies.
The five groups that the pieces in the exhibition are organized into reflect this approach to the creative process. Transparent Things, the title of which was taken from a text by Nabokov, features pieces that mark turning points in her career, and that connect the past with the future. Empathetic Journeys brings together designs in which travels, real as well as imaginary, are the primary source of inspiration.
Resistances is an invitation to consider what qualities the objects have that are disruptive. “Gender? What Gender?” brings together ob- jects that approach notions of gender from a nonbinary perspective.
Finally, Contaminations explores projects that were developed in collaboration with creators from other fields. All of these issues are of interest to the designer and they invite us to contemplate the world in which we live and want to make. This is a flexible grouping that tells a story where there is cultural fusion, the exploration of materials, of new technologies and ancient crafts, where barriers are broken and prejudices are disregarded, where we can look to the future without renouncing the past, with liberty, assuming doubts and fears as a natural part of the process.