Universität / Haute École
for student applications
The workshop comes from one of the fundamental drives behind why any of us would make art in the first place. Art as a form of critique, critique as an active and inquisitive form of engagement with the world, a desire to improve the world with one’s resulting creation or practice.
Art practice can be thought of as a critical tool, an enablement by which one can engage with the world, imagine what it could be, and take action. Positioning ourselves amongst our peers, as well as in the continuum of the genealogies of art history, we tend to often look at someone else’s work and think how a certain piece could have been perfect if only one (or more) of its aspects were resolved or finished along the same lines, but in a different way… Maybe if it were painted green instead of black?, or maybe had the artist left all the price tags on the objects instead of removing them and overlooking that crucial aspect? or maybe if the voice over in the video was not of a prostitute, but the artists mother in law?… This desired alteration has sometimes come to my mind as subtle, other times more radical, and this change (to alter? take apart? intervene? subtly channel? break open? perfect? co-opt? improve, for sure) in the work of one’s piers comes from the same critical drive that makes one want to make art in the first place. The desire to improve someone else’s work comes from the same urge to improve the world that propels the creative act. It comes from a natural projection of one’s practice on to the practice of a colleague. This also happens with the work of remote artists, or of course older works of ones who are no longer around.
The purpose of the workshop is to emphasise the possibility of critique as a constructive and transformative form of engagement. We normally don’t care and project to engage in deep critical thinking towards work we don’t like or we are simply indifferent to. The stronger desire to engage critically naturally comes when one sees oneself in someone else’s work, from the strong feeling that in some way it could have been me who made it (or is in the process of making it). This does not only happen with close or likeminded piers that make work somehow similar to ours, the paradox of the creative act has it so that this is often felt towards practices that come from a very different place, or have a seemingly contrary aim.
During the three days workshop, each student has to give up one of their pieces for some else to take it over with complete freedom to change it. In compensation, or at least for a sake of symmetry, each student will also have the opportunity to take over one work from someone else and change it with complete freedom. Thus the art works will become tokens for exchange, transformation and critique.
In order for the workshop to commence hands on, on the first day, we will begin the conversation earlier so to determine which works will be taken by whom, and be able to kick off after a brief group conversation. In this briefing, Sofia and I will share some notions at the core of our active creative act… making as a way of thinking.
Naturally I acknowledge that an exercise like this takes a great amount of trust, courage and detachment. It also implies empathy, projection and respect. It is possible to do this within the environment of an art school, and becomes less likely once we leave school and the stakes seem to be higher in the public eye. This workshop also nurtures from the conversations that the students have been having with one another, naturally forging axis of empathy and positive critical tension.
The change in the works in question can be light in touch or completely transforming… there are naturally many variables to this exercise and we would like to keep them all possible. What is important is that this is thoughtful and engaged and more importantly, that that critique is exercised HANDS ON. Each one must produce this transformation actively, physically and not just with words. The words will come later, after the fact, when we have a group briefing again at the end with the physical results in front of us. Hopefully this will be a form of engaging with one another that some may choose to continue to experiment with.
What is important, again, is that the involvement implies giving something up and taking something over.
Sofia and I will be going around the studios during the three days trying to engage with the processes of each person, assessing the intent, gestures, technique, envisaged finish, etc. We will encourage everyone to push themselves and think through making, and in this case think through the making of their peers.
Gabriel Kuri explores the potential for transformation latent in familiar situations when observed from an unconventional angle. Playing with the principles of minimalism and the history of consumption, he integrates elements of everyday life into sculptures and collages. Residues of human interactions —plastic bags, advertising flyers, receipts, and tickets— are brought together with stones, coins, and cigarette butts, as well as industrial materials, such as cement, brushed steel, and insulation rolls. Kuri draws the viewer’s attention to the dynamic and unstable space at the intersection of two opposite concepts: in the precarious and yet precise meeting of the unexpected. The creation of systems is at the base of his artistic practice, ordering different elements until certain patterns begin to emerge and new semantic connections are generated between existing forms and their uses. Often accompanied by idioms and vernacular phrases, his pieces invite a multilayered dialogue between the verbal and the visual. He questions the given tenets of contemporary culture through poetic juxtapositions and hybrid objects that rethink the mundane and find the eloquent and the extraordinary in daily life.
Sofia Hulten artist Sofia Hultén (*1972 in Stockholm, lives in Berlin) shaved seven different ball types for her work Skinned Balls. The skins were removed down to the innermost layer, and what remained was the core of the whole. Sofia Hultén sets out in search of the last indivisible particle that slumbers within each body and is different in each ball, as can be seen here. However, the installation on the wall opens up another level: The Skinned Balls form a kind of constellation and thus represent a cosmological finding beyond themselves. In this work, the artist also traces the overriding principles inherent in the objects. The relationship between human beings and objects, as well as the nature of objects and the durability of fabrics, appear in a new light.