Ultimately, we need design for life in exceptional circumstances
The foundation for our work is the personalities of our students; the goal is establishing the artist's self-conﬁdence with historical awareness, including a developed awareness for democracy, morality and ethics; with professionalism and aesthetic standards; with critical reference standards and the ability to resist; with an understanding of citizens’ rights and of artistic freedom.
Ultimately, what we need is design for life in exceptional circumstances. Three areas are cultivated here: craft skills, reﬂection and management/self-organisation. Investigation, play and experimentation are the preferred methods of achieving intuitive self-development. The combination is exciting, instructive, good-humoured and, at the same time, serious. The intensity and continuity of one’s own artistic work are essential in order to successfully study in a Free Art class: gathering knowledge, practising skills, developing and implementing ideas, acquiring abilities, trying out the possibilities. Indications of inﬁnity allow purpose to be forgotten; reﬂective thought can begin; things that exist outside of mere utility become conceivable; art becomes possible. Finding one’s personal position for one’s own artistic path is the ideal. In concrete terms, this means:
A) Individual study tasks are supplemented by further teaching elements offered by the professors and their staff. Subject-speciﬁc work can also lead to unexpected solutions outside of the ﬁelds of Painting and Textile Arts. Studies, individual works, concepts, models and texts result in a manner that spans media and technologies. Weaving plays an important role and/or has a metaphorical signiﬁcance as per the theories of Gottfried Sempers. We regard weaving not only as a production technology, but also as a principle or structure – just like text/language. Also important to us is an understanding of weaving as a civilisatory factor, as currently demonstrated by the parallels between the digital functions of upper/lower warp yarns in weaving and the zeroes and ones of information technology. Weaving is our main source of inspiration. Pictures and images are the actual subject of study in a Fine Art or Free Art class. Images are important. People long for images. We divide images into two categories that are relevant for our purposes and for our ﬁeld: First of all, we have windows, formatted images, as produced by painting or photography. The socio-psychological function of these images is to provide insights into other worlds. Their job is to create openings in the walls of our imaginations. These window images show us the world in a different, new, surprising manner. With their surprise effect, they allow us to understand just how many secrets our world has to offer. The second image category is that of wallpaper. Its socio-psychological function is to cover over the abyss at the edges of the familiar world of our imaginations, as we are not able to accept this frightening nothingness. However, as wallpaper cannot make us completely forget the abyss with its hiding function alone and as curious glimpses and thoughts that reach behind this facade must be prevented no matter what, images in the ‘wallpaper’ category should be dazzlingly beautiful, lush, fascinatingly challenging and magically distracting and should make us concentrate on them in order to make us forget certain premonitions and threats. This category must at least give the impression of protecting us with its all-round grandeur and should give us a pleasant feeling of familiarity and comfort in order to create an illusion of harmony. For us, the textile wall is a subject of research.
B) Practical orientation is provided by projects funded by third parties where students’ artistic designs are implemented and jointly developed architectural concepts are realised for various developers. Students practise collective behaviour and cooperation with end-users, architects, engineers and tradespeople; they are confronted with various requirements in the implementation of their own artistic ideas from design through to production, even when work is carried out by external parties; students acquire experience with elementary matters such as price calculations, contracts, management of works, invoicing, documentation, publication and public relations work and learn the main rules of artistic practice. Firstly: A project is considered to be complete when all invoices have been paid and the documentation is complete. Secondly: The quality of a commissioned work can only be as high as the quality of the commissioning party. Thirdly: A and B are like the supporting and non-supporting legs. Changing position often helps to establish one’s stance and to avoid tensions. The idea of useful art is also considered and helps to honour the values of free art as compared to those of applied arts and of design. Differentiating between these strategies in practice helps to develop artists’ perception of themselves and independence in their artistic work.
C) Artistic professionalism and social skills are also developed in common workshops, e.g. at Gut Blücherhof in Mecklenburg; in exhibitions organised by the class; with the participation of all students in the organisation of everyday course activity; in the structuring of common discussions on subjects from the areas of culture and art, politics and current affairs, history and nature. The ideal is a working community of personalities with individual artistic positions and shared terminology in sophisticated communication. The list of literature, which is always being expanded, is a positive factor in both practical and theoretical work. Our dynamic understanding of art is the common denominator.
Prof. Ulrich Reimkasten
Mecklenburg, September 2010
‘Hermes’ building, 5th ﬂoor
Hermesstraße 5, 06114 Halle