• Course 8: Free Space Where Things can come Together: Is this a sculpture class?
Course 8: Free Space Where Things can come Together: Is this a sculpture class?
Course 8: Free Space Where Things can come Together: Is this a sculpture class?
by Bernhard Rüdiger
12 – 17 August, 2019

Course Description
Younger or older artists are often confronted with the question: "Tell me more about your work. What kind of art do you produce?" Even if we have some experience it is always difficult to give a clear answer. Very often I would like to make it short and simply say: "I'm a sculptor". But than you have to add some explanation, saying, "but it deals with installation and it is about sound", or someone else would say, "I also do some video", or "it is about performing" and so on. Why can't we simply and quickly answer this kind of question?

The class proposes coming together and trying to stress this question through practical, personal and collective work. At first glance, this seems to be a personal approach, but as we engage more deeply, we will see how it deals with complex political and social issues.

To introduce the class, let's go back to one of the first definitions of sculpture in modern art in the Renaissance Treaty by Vasari, which became the fundamental ground of modern art history. The first sentence of the chapter dedicated to sculpture says,
"Sculpture is an art, which by removing all that is superfluous from the material under treatment reduces it to that form designed in the artist's mind."

For Vasari, the material seems to be a whole thing from which one has to carve out the figure, which we call “form” in contemporary language. A few sentences later, he adds that this is the case even if someone works in clay or wax. This means that Vasari’s carving of a form out of a whole is a general definition of the sculptor's action, even when the artist works by adding material to achieve a form.

If we read Vasari literally, we could say that such an assumption is useful for us. But if we take this not in relation to an ancient working process, but as a theoretical and general approach to form, we can point out the general idea of a positive element dealing with a negative one. The negative whole that Vasari names "the material under treatment" is as important as the positive shape. It stays at the beginning of the process to make something become visible. The shape comes out of a whole that remains unnamed and comes into being through the working process, which is invisible. In Vasari's mind, from the stone one gets the visible and positive form, which comes out of a negative matter without order or quality.

If we look at current ways of thinking about shapes and how we act when we produce them, we can say that we still take a positive element out of a negative whole. This undefined and separated matter becomes a kind of background, the horizon on which the positive shape appears. We have to admit that we still think about shapes in this very same way. An artwork is a visible form coming out of a background that is not only pure matter, but also a cultural, political background, a social horizon on which, or against which, we built our shape. This is the way we describe a form in avant-garde, modern or contemporary art. A revolutionary new form built against a given whole, a given horizon.
But what is the role of collage and assemblage in modern art and what about the contemporary term “installation”? And what about new media, where the shapes are recorded and given matter can be downloaded and copied? An actual shape can be produced by simply reproducing and adding existing elements. Does that means that there is no longer this essential negative element from which we can generate a positive shape? Does this means that a shape can be only a positive element without any background? Could it be possible that our actual shapes simply float in reality without being dialectical, political?

Most traditional contemporary artists now work with new media and no longer carve a shape from a given matter. Contemporary art deals more and more with political and social issues even if the theory of the shape is still linked to Giorgio Vasari’s approach.
It seems that we are thus confronted with some kind of contradiction; we cannot reflect on our actions and production process without coming back to this dialectical approach of a positive element carved out of a negative one.

If this can explain our difficulty in answering a simple question about our work, it seems clear that we have to produce a new thinking on artistic process according to a new idea of matter, which comes from a different social and political background.
Let's come together in Pristina and begin from this singular place and the original matters around us, let us face this contradiction as artists do. Let us experiment together by producing shapes in a collective working process and let us have a look at our actions. Let us pay attention to our gestures, let us point out our contradictory "carving" process, let us analyze the way we name and describe our acting.

Bernhard Rüdiger was born in Italy (Rome, 1964) and lives and works in Paris. He graduated from the Accademia di Belle Arti in Milan with Luciano Fabro and, after stints as a teacher in Tours and Valenciennes, he currently teaches in Lyon. He is editor of the magazine Tiracorrendo and was co-founder of the artists’ gallery Lo Spazio di Via Lazzaro Palazzi, a busy venue in the Milan art scene from 1989 to 1993. His works confront visitors with a physical experience involving object, body and space. At once sculptures, monumental models and architectural pieces, through their meticulous spatial and acoustic arrangement his works seek to investigate history, particularly the history of places. One example is in the semi-private garden of the Antonin Perrin residence in Lyon, in which Rüdiger installed a scaled-down model of the two old low-rise buildings destroyed in 2004 during the zone’s renovation, which recalled the history of the site and its industrial culture. Rüdiger’s works also propose direct physical experiences and the possibility that the work can react to the visitor’s presence or to natural elements. All of Rüdiger’s projects are systematically accompanied by studies and models in cardboard, wood, iron, etc., as well as drawings, but they are far more than mere stages in a creative process. They constitute part of the fully-fledged work, and are involved in specific presentations in an arrangement encompassing some 30 display stands. (Excerpts from Nadine Labedade, FRAC Centre Orléans).

10 participants will be selected to participate in this course. Eligible participants must read the Terms, fill out the application form, upload the required documents and submit the application form. Incomplete applications will not be considered.

Scholarships are available for participants from Kosovo.
A limited number of scholarships, that cover the participation fee, are available for international participants.