“Most artists still produce to be experienced physically in space by somebody who is bodily present. This is something the World Wide Web won’t ever be able to replace. The increasing pressure of information on the experience of art has had artists running back for very material types of production, for very artisanal types of production.” (Dieter Roelstrate, Interview at the Kunsthalle Vienna, 26 June 2016)
In times when contemporary art more strongly reflects the conditions and aesthetics of virtual realities, post-humane theories abound, and the digitization of the world has created a fascination with materiality, surfaces and found images, a parallel art production is emerging, one that deliberately uses haptic materials and artisan production processes.
The two-part exhibition project Further Thoughts on Earthy Materials at the GAK Gesellschaft für Aktuelle Kunst Bremen and the Kunsthaus Hamburg asks what the underlying questions of the shift towards techniques and the material of ceramics in artistic production of the 21st century are. What does it say about our view of the world when, in the era of globalization and the World Wide Web, artists are increasingly turning to a material that is not only the oldest craft in cultural history but also have an important tradition in the field of applied arts? The renewed interest in traditional techniques and physically tangible materials seen in the art of the past decade reveals not only a countermovement to our digitized and globalized present. Myriad examples also explicitly incorporate many aspects of this very present. Other approaches pick up on themes such as implicit associations of ceramic material with amateur art, esoteric personal fulfilment or from the applied (design) field. In any case, art production in the past ten years has revealed an interest in ceramics and its archaic nature, in its artisan manufacturing processes and decelerated production.
The exhibition Further Thoughts on Earthy Materials brings together works of a younger generation of artists that take an unconventional approach to ceramic material. Works that do not signify a revival of traditions or a backward artistic movement, but rather break new ground in dealing with traditional processes and topics. The chapters in Bremen and Hamburg each explore different aspects through two group shows. The exhibition at the GAK focuses on the presence of the physical body and the Kunsthaus examines contemporary technologies and production processes.
The GAK Gesellschaft für Aktuelle Kunst Bremen chapter investigates a premise inherent to earthy materials, namely the body. Traditional ceramic manufacturing processes involve the constructing and shaping of material by hand, thus revealing the body’s presence in the object, which is marked by the unavoidable traces of its maker and to which it largely owes its one-of-a-kind character. Given ceramics’ inherent connection to the body, it seems only logical that the body has become a thematic reference in various artistic explorations of fired clay.
The GAK exhibition presents works that detail this perspective intrinsic to the material, both in the classic ceramic object and in installation, film, photography, audio recording, slide projection and performance. The themes explored also cover a broad spectrum, investigating aspects of the body through the medium of mud, clay and earth. The works on show in the GAK chapter Further Thoughts On Earthy Materials qualify as both intuitive and rational, abstract and representational. The body in copy, its states, its alienation, its limits or how it is perceived are approached through a variety of perspectives. The exhibition addresses questions about the ideal body under this era of deregulated capitalism, the border between external and internal perception or gender attribution as well as the relationship between humans and animals or political conditions.
With generous support by
Stiftung Kunstfonds, British Council, Hypo-Kulturstiftung, Hamburgische Kulturstiftung, LCI Lithuanian Culture Institute
The GAK is funded by
Der Senator für Kultur, Freie Hansestadt Bremen
Kasia Fudakowski in Zusammenarbeit mit Real Madrid
Nina Hoffmann & Kathrin Sonntag
Janneke de Vries
In cooperation with
Katja Schroeder, Kunsthaus Hamburg
Thu 20.09.18, 5–7pm
Doris Weinberger: Homo hapticus
Tue 16.10.18, 7pm
Alex Müller: Der Takt vom Orchester
F. Cirillo: She’s a pioneer
Thu 01.11.18, 7pm
Irene Strese: Tableware