Audemars Piguet – Associate Partner of Art Basel – has announced a partnership with the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) in Salem, Massachusetts to bring Theo Jansen‘s Strandbeests to Art Basel in Miami Beach.
From 3-7 December 2014, a clutch of Strandbeests, each with unique characteristics and histories, will inhabit a prominent stretch of the beach in Miami Beach. Daily, visitors will be able to meet Jansen as he leads his larger-than-life, wind-powered creatures in demonstrations along the beach. An accompanying installation features Jansen’s newest Strandbeests, including the 42-foot-long Animaris Suspendisse, as well as a reproduction of Theo Jansen’s workshop on the beach and an exhibition of Lena Herzog’s photographs of the Strandbeests. This will be complementing Audemars Piguet’s watch exhibition in the Collectors’ Lounge at Art Basel’s 2014 shows, where the brand’s stand was designed by leading French designer Mathieu Lehanneur.
Jansen’s renaissance imagination roams freely between the realms of art and science. Possessing an uncanny life-like locomotion, his Strandbeests (“beach animals”) are intricately constructed from PVC tubes, which Jansen refers to as his “artistic protein.” Through 25 years of experimentation and development on the Dutch seacoast, Jansen’s Strandbeests have evolved from rudimentary structures to complex creatures that are able to autonomously respond to environmental conditions by storing wind power, changing direction when they sense water and anchoring themselves during oncoming storms. Each year, Jansen increases the capacity of his Strandbeests to interact and adapt, clearing new hurdles for their sustained survival on the beach.
Jansen’s alternative life forms, with their complex mechanical motions, mirror the precision and technological mastery at the heart of Audemars Piguet’s tradition of watchmaking.
Jansen’s creations are constantly updated and taken to new levels of innovation, just as the Swiss watchmaker remains at the forefront of haute horlogerie and is responsible for a number of world firsts in the industry. Providing a compliment to Audemars Piguet’s legacy of integrating creative vision with superb artistry, the Strandbeests illustrate Jansen’s idea that “the walls between art and engineering exist only in the mind”.
The presentation at Art Basel in Miami Beach previews the first major U.S. tour of Theo Jansen’s Strandbeests organised by the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM). Beginning in September 2015, the exhibition tour will debut at PEM and make anticipated stops in Chicago, San Francisco and New York City.