10 October – 2 November 2018
Aksioma | Project Space, Ljubljana
Part of U30+ production programme for supporting young artists
Today, thanks to crowdfunding platforms such as Kickstarter and to the easy access to the means of industrial production introduced by maker culture, consumerism has reached a brand new stage, that finds its way into distribution thanks to online stores like Etsy and the activity of social media influencers. The “long tail”  of net-based markets allows us to look for bizarre, original objects that would satisfy the needs of a small yet international niche; small producers find a small yet passionate market for their weird objects, and consumers find a way to enjoy, instead of repress, their weirdness. As Seth Godin puts it: “The epic battle of our generation is between the status quo of mass and the never-ceasing tide of weird.” 
As a consequence, today the success of a product is not measured by its quality but by how much it sells. Seeing how many bizarre objects are produced is disappointing yet fascinating. Most of the times, these objects come out of the improvement or combination of existing objects but are mostly useless, yet attractive exactly because they are absurd, adorable, cute, weird. The true quality products can’t cope with this market so they are forced to take similar steps. While on the side of consumption, being aware of the absurdity of this evolution does not necessarily mean to be immune to a disease that all of us, in different ways, share: the fascination for weird, useless objects.
Dan Adlešič’s project Furniture Pets addresses this situation. A young Slovenian artist and product designer selected through the U30+ call for proposals, designed a series of objects that push the logic of artificial needs and the rhetoric of “adorable cuteness” to the extreme, thus turning it into a means for parody and criticism. Inspired by Jacques Tati’s movie classic Mon Oncle (1958), where the gadgets are shown as unnecessary, clumsy and stupid yet seductive, Adlešič builds and promotes actual, mostly useless, sometimes “intelligent” objects. As the project’s name suggests, all objects display cute animals features which are often inspired by pets in the very way they work. For example, the Cat Broom is made out of pink sticky silicon and collects dust in the way a cat’s rough tongue cleans its soft hair; while the Squirrel Shelf – whose only ability is to clean itself – uses a robotic dust cleaner inspired by a squirrel’s tail. Another self-cleaning object is the Jelly Fish Table, equipped with a silicon tablecloth inspired by a jellyfish that spins raising its tentacles and pushing crumbs away. Finally, the Antisect Spider Lamp is a spider-shaped structure covered with a material that attracts insects with a blue neon light Jand kills them.
In the installation at Aksioma Project Space, these objects are presented in a typical fair booth setup, and accompanied by video commercials playing with the conflict between a very professional shooting and an over affirmative, absurdist soundtrack, echoing the way the Furniture Pets are advertised on social media:
“SMART FURNITURE DOES THING RIGHT IT DOES BY ITSELF NOT YOU / SO SMART IS ALMOST ALIVE O.K. 100% LIVE ACTION, EXTREME / NOW ALSO WITH INTEGRATED Advanced Self-Cleaning Technology / HALAL, GOOD FOR HUMANS / FROM TAIL TO A TALE, WOW / BUILT WITH CARE, TOP QUALITY MODEL / FIRST TIME IN SLOVENIA ALSO NOW THE BEST / PRODUCT LAUNCH 10.10.2018 COME BY”.
Dan Adlešič’s Furniture Pets exemplifies how a young generation of Slovenian artists is trying to cope with the rising market of cute yet useless “intelligent” objects, and critically respond to it. Adlešič both updates the long artistic tradition of machines célibataires and ironically plays with the uncomfortable proximity between media art and media design, that often use the same languages and take very similar forms. The project also offers a criticism of recent developments in the crowdfunding system that from a fundraising platform for experimental ideas that could be hard to realize otherwise, evolved into a Darwinistic arena where, more often than not, the dumber wins.
 Cf. Chris Anderson, The Long Tail, Hyperion 2006
 Cf. Seth Godin, We Are All Weird, The Domino Project 2011
Dan Adlešič (1990) is a young Slovenian artist and product designer. He graduated in 2015 at Design Academy Eindhoven in the Contextual Design program with the project Electricity is just like … WOAH! that was further on presented by Studio Makkink & Bey at the Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism/Architecture in Shenzhen, China and at the Ram Gallery in Rotterdam. In 2016 he presented the project in the form of an exhibition in several galleries across Europe such as the Rossana Orlandi in Milan, the De Witte Dame in Eindhoven, and at the Helsinki Design Museum, and as a performance at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris. That same year he also had a solo show in Kino Šiška, Ljubljana. In 2017 he participated at the Design Biennale BIO25 in Ljubljana for which he created a custom audiovisual installation together with scientist and poet Andrej Detela that was then displayed in the Županova cave.
Author: Dan Adlešič
Logo design: Nejc Prah
Voice: Peter Frankl
Grandma: Pavla Adlešič
Thanks: Bor Klemenc Mencin, Tit Briški, KRILI
Mentors: Domenico Quaranta and Janez Janša
Aksioma – Institute for Contemporary Art, Ljubljana, 2017
Supported by: the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia and the Municipality of Ljubljana
Aksioma’s programme is additionally supported by the Ministry of Public Administration as part of the public call for co-financing projects for the development and professionalisation of NGOs and volunteerism as well as by JSKD