5 February 2012 – 18 March 2012
5.2.2012 – 18.3.2012
Michael Beutler • Vanessa Billy • Dewar & Gicquel • Ida Ekblad • Vincent Ganivet • Dunja Herzog • Hedwig Houben • Brian Jungen • Emmanuelle Lainé • Charles Mason • Vik Muniz • Kilian Rüthemann • Zin Taylor
Building upon its successful presentation at Parc Saint Leger and the John Hansard Gallery in 2011, the group exhibition Manufacture now travels to Centre Pasquart in Biel/Bienne (Switzerland). At the invitation of newly appointed director Felicity Lunn, curators Zoë Gray and Sandra Patron expand upon their initial exhibition to present the most ambitious version to date. Bringing together work from an international array of artists with new and recent pieces by emerging Swiss artists, the exhibition explores the current status of production in artistic practice.
In Europe, in our “post-industrial” era, we are increasingly distanced from the production of the goods we consume. Our downing of tools seems linked to a change in our relationship with the material world, provoking a more passive attitude towards the things with which we surround ourselves. When they break we throw them away, unable to fix them and unable (or unwilling) to understand how they work. In recent years, however, there has been a resurgence of interest in making, in notions of self-sufficiency and craftsmanship. While such notions may find particular resonance in these times of economic crisis, they are also part of a larger school of thinking that is reconsidering our relationship to work and production.
This changing relationship with material production finds an echo in recent art history. The dematerialization of the art object – triggered by Marcel Duchamp at the start of the 20th century and labelled by art historian Lucy Lippard in 1968 – led to an art where the idea became pre-eminent, often taking prominence over the physical realization of an artwork. There was also an increasing interest in the delegation of an artwork’s production to third parties. While this liberated artists from the obligation to produce physical artworks themselves and opened the door for a wide range of experimentation, it did not obliterate the desire of artists to produce physical works, nor their curiosity to use materials to explore and express their ideas.
The exhibition Manufacture explores what “production” means for artists today, not only in relation to art history but also to the shifts in our globalized, consumer society. Descendants of conceptual art as much as of our industrial heritage, the artists in Manufacture do not hesitate to delve into craftsmanship, the recuperation of materials, bricolage, employing a vocabulary of forms, gestures and techniques while avoiding the fetishisation of perfect technique. In fact, several share the practice of consciously “misusing” their chosen materials and techniques. Others explore the possibilities offered by the unknown, by failure, chance and accident. What inspires them all in their production processes – sometimes spontaneous, sometimes laborious – is the question of practice and how this practice entails a form of emancipation.
In this back-and-forth between artisanal and industrial processes, between contemporary and traditional materials, between thought and form, the artists of the exhibition develop a shared approach based on experimentation and empiricism.
Kuratorinnen der Ausstellung: Zoë Gray und Sandra Patron