Experiments in Pop: Aufbruch in eine neue Alltäglichkeit
In August, 2006 the Paul Klee Zentrum will inaugurate the “Sommerakademie,” a new program that engages directly with contemporary art, artists, and art theory. In keeping with the idea of the Zentrum as a haven for the scholarly examination of new ideas, the Sommerakademie will feature a seminar for an international group of emerging artists who will come to Bern for ten days of intensive study and discussion of a pertinent topic under the supervision of a small faculty of well known scholars. The 2006 topic for discussion is the place of vernacular culture in contemporary art practice.
Over the past several years, an increasing influence of popular cultural modes can be traced in contemporary art practice. Related to, but distinctly different from mass cultural modes like television shows, commercial film and advertisement, popular culture refers more specifically to genres that are not merely consumed by a large public, but emerge from that public as well. Often encompassing what has been called folk art or indigenous art, the popular arts are hand and home-made, conventional as opposed to avant-garde in form, and local in imagery and content.
The reasons for the emergence of this kind of art as well as its implications will be discussed among participating artists, guided by two renowned experts in the field. The novelist, critic and cultural historian Marina Warner has been studying mythology and folklore for more than thirty years. The author of thirty books, she has produced classics in the field of myth and contemporary life including Managing Monsters: Six Myths of Our Time (1994) and From Beast to the Blonde: On Fairy Tales and Their Tellers (1994). Diedrich Diederichsen has written books, articles and reviews on music, contemporary art and subcultural phenomena, most notably Sexbeat (1985) a book about rock and roll, and Der lange Weg nach Mitte (1999). A cultural historian of the popular, Diedrichsen is also a popularizer of cultural theory, contributing regularly to die Zeit, Spiegel and Sueddeutsche Zeitung in addition to art journals like Texte zur Kunst and Artforum. Three eminent artists whose work deals with issues of popular art. Franz West, one of the most important sculptors to emerge from Europe in the past twenty years, Thomas Hirschhorn, the controversial and influential Swiss installation artist, and Jeremy Deller, the British artist organizer and winner of the 2005 Turner Prize will also visit the Sommerakademie to lead discussions and meet with participating artists. Finally a two week exhibition of artist participants work will be organized at the Zentrum by Laura Hoptman, and New York based curator of contemporary art. Hoptman, who is currently a curator at the New Museum of Contemporary Art, organized many exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art in New York including Drawing Now: Eight Propositions (2002) and the most recent Carnegie International (2005) the United States most international biennial of contemporary art.