Charlap Hyman & Herrero


Stills from, The Blood of a Poet, 1932, directed by Jean Cocteau

Charlap Hyman & Herrero


May 3, 2019 - July 6, 2019
ALMA ZEVI Projects, San Marco 3208, Salizzada Malipiero, Venice

Private View: 7 May 2019, 6-9 pm

ALMA ZEVI is pleased to announce Ouvrez-moi, Charlap Hyman & Herrero’s first solo exhibition. This site-specific installation of new work produced in Murano, is organised by Clara Zevi and held just steps away from the main gallery, in Salizzada Malipiero 3208, from 3 May-6 July 2019.

In a former Venetian mirror workshop, architects Adam Charlap Hyman and Andre Herrero (CHH) have created a bedroom. A giant etched mirror, cracked into shards, has been reassembled into intricate pieces of reflective furniture. In this liminal, fractured, yet cavernous space, CHH invites visitors to explore perceptual illusions constructed with duplications and translucencies. The furniture, textiles and natural artifacts in this exhibition come together to form a still life: part dead, part alive, part natural, part manmade.

Surrealist, Renaissance and entirely innovative in its construction, the exhibition was borne from a scene in Jean Cocteau’s 1932 film, The Blood of a Poet. In the film, a living statue transforms the door of an artist’s studio into a looking glass. “Ouvrez-moi”, open up, the artist commands, but the statue tells him that the only way out of the room is through the mirror. At first the artist hesitates in disbelief, but then he dives into the mirror, the surface of which has taken on liquid properties. Cocteau’s split-second cinematographic trickery persuaded CHH to push past the decorative characteristics of mirror and investigate the poetics of the material.

CHH collaborated with local craftsmen in Murano to produce this body of new work that draws on Venice’s rich history of mirror making, and brings the art form into a contemporary context. Each piece of furniture in CHH’s installation incorporates a sheet of two-way mirror in front of a sheet of one-way mirror. Candles and flora and fauna from nearby lagoons live between the two panes. When the candle is lit, the flame activates the translucency of the two-way mirror and creates infinite reflections of the contained ecosystem. When the candle goes out, the viewer is faced with their reflection. Glass becomes mirror and the illusion vanishes.

CHH’s research into 17th century mirror production, grottos and Italian Novecento architecture is at the core of Ouvrez-moi. The pattern interprets the soft but geometric design found on the underbelly of Milan’s Palazzo della Società BuonarrotiCarpaccio-Giotto with sliding snails in a lattice of interlocking ribbon. This reverberates throughout the exhibition, confusing the distinction between a fleeting reflection and a permanent imprint.

Just as the artist in The Blood of a Poet slips through the looking glass into another world, visitors are engulfed into microcosmic grottos in each element of Ouvrez-moi. This ephemeral installation, made using local, Venetian materials is a space for private play or contemplation, the erotic or the sacred, and is a place that temporarily permeates the threshold of reality.

Graduates of the Rhode Island School of Design in furniture design and art history (Charlap Hyman) and architecture (Herrero), the American duo, both 29 years old, live and work between New York and Los Angeles. Recent projects include the set design for Amsterdam’s Royal Theater Carré, 2019; a collaboration with Cynthia Talmadge for 1076 Madison at 56 Henry, New York, 2018; the exhibition design for Blow Up, curated by Felix Burrichter at Friedman Benda, New York, 2018. CHH were the 2017 winners of the Miami Design District’s holiday decoration competition and that same year were selectedto participate in the Chicago Architecture Biennial.