Ken Ehrlich: Dysfunctional Furniture

410 Cottage Home St., Los Angeles, CA 90012
Jan 31, 7 PM - 9 PM — ends Feb 16, 2020
Human Resources is pleased to present Dysfunctional Furniture, an exhibition of new work by artist Ken Ehrlich. The show presents a range of works that are at once sculptural and in direct conversation with furniture design. Made from gleaned building materials, objects range from playful to aggressive, displaying a rough, informal aesthetic and refined craftsmanship. Many balance precariously and pose a slight sense of danger: Glass juts out at unexpected angles, sharp edges lean uncomfortably, and weight and balance seem unsteady. The installation toys with the tension between the utility of furniture and the perceived uselessness of sculpture.


In the months preceding the exhibition, the artist asked Los Angeles writers to ‘host’ one of the dysfunctional furniture pieces in their home for a period of time and reflect on daily life with that object. The exhibit includes a pamphlet of their writings and a series of diptychs, which present the works in situ alongside a portrait of each host.


In conceiving the project, the artist was inspired by several texts from 1972, which is also the year he was born. In that year both The Power of Women and the Subversion of the Community by Mariarosa Dalla Costa and Selma James and the seminal exhibition catalogue Italy: The New Domestic Landscape were published. In The Power of Women and the Subversion of the Community, a collaboration between an American and an Italian thinker, the writers begin by analyzing the role of the housewife in the political and economic context of Italy in the 1970’s. This text eventually offers an expansive critique of the dynamics of housework, the family, care work and the politics of gender more broadly within a capitalist economy. Texts by designers Gae Aulenti and Enzo Mari in the catalog from Italy: The New Domestic Landscape question to what extent design can meaningfully alter behavior in a capitalist context and examine the ways that experimentation in design circulates around economic questions. Putting feminist critiques in conversation with radical Italian design from the same period generates a series of questions that move back and forth along the edge of contemporary art and design, placing the fine grain of individual daily life against the backdrop of broad social and political dynamics.


Writers who participated in the project include Gabrielle Civil, Andrew Culp and Eva Della Lana, Jennifer Doyle, Amy Gerstler and Benjamin Weissman, Maya Andrea Gonzalez, Maya Gurantz and Allison Yasukawa. Copies of the pamphlet will be available at the exhibition.



Ken Ehrlich was born in Taos, NM and received a BA from New College of California and an MFA from CalArts. His wide ranging practice in sculpture, photography, video and performance has been presented internationally, including at the California Pacific Triennial at the Orange County Museum of Art, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, The Hammer Museum and High Desert Test Sites. His writing has been published widely, including mostly recently a text on networks, infrastructure and logistics in Blind Field Journal as well as a forthcoming text on networks in Drain Magazine. He co-edited the Surface Tension book series for Errant Bodies Press. He currently hosts the bi-monthly radio show *segments* on KCHUNG Radio and is on the organizing committee of The Public School, Los Angeles. He has taught at UC Irvine, Woodbury University, CalArts and UC Riverside.