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New Look #2

KATHI HOFER

craftivism
Wed, 19.12.2012–Sun, 03.03.2013
NEW LOOK reflects on the MAK as a site of present-day artistic production and presents an opportunity to contemplate on applied art and the transfer of related knowledge from new and different perspectives. In this exhibition series, four artists of the younger generation who live and work in Vienna deal specifically with the MAK Study Collection. Benjamin Hirte opened the series with his installation the classic mob ballet, in which he reacted to forms of presentation as well as strategies of communication and education.

It is in a conceptual setting that Kathi Hofer takes craftivism, her first institutional exhibition, as an opportunity to confront and combat the pressures to be both creative and ingenious—pressures to which young artists are often subjected.

In her large-scale installation at the MAK Gallery, she integrates objects from the MAK Collection into a “decorative ambience” and directs observers’ attention to the activity of production. Kathi Hofer takes up the MAK curators’ scholarly findings and ideas. She also makes use of the skill sets offered by employees of the museum’s Conservation and Workshops department. As an artist, however, Hofer exercises restraint in this presentation, confining her role to the superficial and cosmetic. She thus concentrates largely on the realization of hand-crafted details, as well as lending the exhibition space a “pleasant design.”

Having charged one of the MAK’s carpenters with the production of custom-built objects, objects that will find use in her apartment following the exhibition, Hofer focuses on the phenomenon of getting oneself situated, furnishing one’s own space for free time and leisure activities—very much in opposition to the typical, professionalized form of artistic self-realization. She purchases cheap chairs copied from the design classic Superleggera by Gio Ponti (Model 699), which she came upon in the Furniture Study Collection. She works on these copies to make them look more like the original, and she also reproduces pages from the MAK Works on Paper Collection as posters. In doing so, Hofer refers to the MAK’s founding principle of providing a collection of models—models that she interprets for her own use.

In dealing with the processes by which objects come into being, Kathi Hofer explores the activity of hand-craftsmanship as it relates to commercialized creativity. Within this context, the artist is concerned with the roles of producers—craftspeople, manufacturers, and even forgers—as makers without attributed authorship. Her specific interest in this topic also finds expression in an artist’s book, which she has produced in collaboration with the MAK’s in-house bookbinder in an edition of ten hand-bound copies. An edition encompassing a further 400 machine-bound copies is available at the MAK Design Shop.

The installations and strategies developed for the series NEW LOOK represent a participative contribution to the discourse on the MAK Study Collection, which is set to reopen in 2014. Two further solo exhibitions, by Kerstin von Gabain and Verena Dengler, will be taking place later on in 2013.

Curator Janina Falkner, MAK Contemporary Art Collection

Artist's book on the occasion of the exhibition available at the MAK Design Shop

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