Public Program

  • E1027 Design for Living: Eileen Gray and Jean Badovici
    Elizabeth Lennard

Elizabeth Lennard, E1027 Design for Living, performance at ENSAPM, June 11, 2015, Paris. Courtesy of the artist

How to put modernist design and architecture into words? This is what designer-architect Eileen Gray and architect-critic Jean Badovici did in the 1920s when their conversations appeared in L'Architecture Vivante. Until Gray met Badovici, she had only designed furniture and interiors. Their encounter resulted in the construction of E-1027, code name for the "House by the Sea," in the South of France. Their dialogues encompass multiple architecture and design questions, as Gray makes clear the specific motivation for each of her breakthrough furnishings—a marvelous lesson in thinking about furniture design. In the concentrated time and space of public performances at the AIA/NY Center for Architecture, two actors bring these discussions to life. The actors are enveloped in a video backdrop of E-1027—as photographed in 1929 by Gray, complete with the furniture described in the dialogues; revealed by Le Corbusier's original film footage and filmed after its restoration.

Multimedia artist Elizabeth Lennard studied film and photography at SFAI, UCSC, and UCLA. Her work is often associated with other artists or writers: Gertrude Stein, for the video-opera Accents in Alsace; documentaries: The Stein Family: The Making of Modern Art and Edith Wharton: the Sense of Harmony. The performance Pour faire une cordelière, with writer Danielle Mémoire, was presented at the Pompidou Center in Paris in 2009. Her fascination with architecture and urban landscapes led to a book on Alexander Chemetoff's Bamboo GardenTokyo Melody: a film about Ryuichi Sakamoto, and Casa Bronfman, a documentary on a townhouse by architect Peter Rose. Other venues for her performances and video-objects are the Louvre Museum and Grand Palais in Paris and the Chateau de Versailles. In 2014, she had a solo show Duras Films in Budapest and in 2016, her photographs are included in The Unbearable Lightness, The 1980s, photography, film... at the Paris Pompidou Center.