The myth of the artist in the studio, creating artworks all by himself is still vivid and willingly communicated by the art market. But through art history, legions of assistants and workshops have been accompanying the artist in the realization of their artworks. The form and understanding of these collaborations has been changing through time due to artistic self-conceptions but also to political and economical developments. With some delay, artists took up current types of production like the manufactory, the factory or today’s globalized and digitally fragmented way of working. This dialogical lecture between an artist/professor and a designer focus on the practical possibilities and theoretical implications of this collaboration.
Ingo Vetter, artist and professor at University of the Arts Bremen
How do works of art, and particularly monumental sculptures for biennales and major exhibitions arise today? This was the initial question of the project “Artistic materials and production in globalization” at the University of the Arts Bremen, Germany. The research began questioning our own practice in the studios and workshops at the university, then leading to the mega-studios by Joep van Lieshout or Olafur Eliasson, and finally to Thailand, Vietnam, Hong Kong and southern China to visit production facilities of contemporary art. Our focus was on sites, where international artists’ commission works for international exhibitions. We documented the workshops, talked to managers, their staff and present artists, discussing forms of communication, decision-making, and translation issues. The paper presents a globalized art production that not only inspires the feasibility fantasies of many artists and their clients, it also changes the artworks and their meanings. Outsourcing artistic production to the workshops of the world requires constant translations of communication, appreciation of art and its content. The smooth international assignment is more of an obsession and in the actual realization the location captures a significant role again. This material view on the production of art allows questions about working conditions, economy and distribution, but also changes the image of the artist and ultimately challenges today’s art education.
Viola Eickmeier, founder of studio violet, Berlin
Today’s artwork production is not only a technical and practical process. Nowadays, an artwork production and its development has to adapt to different types of studio practices. Moreover, the recent developments in artistic productions have shown that specialized skills and design knowledge are necessary requirements than in the previous decades. My studio’s production is mostly related to forms of sculpture and installation-based presentations where tailor-made solutions are essential to suit the production of an artist’s concept and their preferred aesthetics.
Usually, the artist arrives with an idea, a sketch, or a planned production. From this, I start with investigating and inventorying the details for the production. The project requests vary from a need to develop and supervise a project to a specific research and specialized development during a phase of a project. An important role of a project is the communication with institutions and galleries as well as workshops and other skilled specialists. Assisting the artist in a phase of development implies consultations, advise on materials, strategic ways of communication, presentation forms, and interpreting the artist’s ideas according to his or her needs. As such, a production studio functions also as a way of translating abstract ideas into concrete production processes and plans.