Wednesday is the Day for Officials - The Landesrat Came By!

Summer Academy of Art in Salzburg would not exist without support. Every year, the school is visited by local officials responsible for culture in the region. On Wednesday, we had an official visit from Dr. Heinrich Schellhorn, Landesrat and I’ve had the chance to chat with him about his views on the Salzburger cultural scene and the future of the visual arts in the region.


Heinrich Schellhorn and Hildegund Amanshauser visiting Melissa Gordon's class


Salzburg is very beautiful, very cultural, there’s a lot of music. Where would you say that the contemporary art stands in Salzburg today? Is it important and how much?

Yes, it is important! But first of all, Salzburg is a city of music. But, we try also to support visual arts more than in the past. Summer Academy is a very important part of these activities. But we extend our support to other institutions as well, to new galleries and also to artists. Further, I try to improve the cooperation between these institutions.

Where would you place the Summer Academy within this setting?

The Academy is very well positioned among the local cultural public, it has a positive image. Many people from Salzburg visit the classes as students. It’s a good place. They enjoy the chance for international encounters, to meet with teachers and students from all over the world. This international spirit is a very positive side of the Summer Academy.

Since Summer Academy is a contemporary art institution, how do you see its development in the future?

When it was founded, Summer Academy was one of the very, very few such institutions. It’s not easy talking about the future since now, there are many similar institutions around the world. So we have to work hard so that in the future, Summer Academy remains attractive for teachers and students all over the world. We also have to try to internationalize more, to open the Academy for teachers and students from developing countries, from Africa and Asia. This effort is always more difficult to finance because often students from these countries cannot afford the fees and we have to support this financially. So, one of the big tasks for the future is to secure this financial support.

You visit the Summer Academy every year. What is your favorite aspect of this school?

My most favorite aspect is to have teachers and students from all over the world, from different levels, different ages. There are so many positions from which both students and teachers come, and it’s the most important for me to see the creative richness.

How do you see the city’s cultural scene evolving until 2020 and after that? Will the visual arts be more important?

Well, they must be more important. Next year we will open the House of architecture that I hope will have an impact on the culture of building in Salzburg and even more importantly, in the rural areas. I also hope that the contemporary arts get more influence in the rural areas so that not everything is concentrated in the city.

I hope that Summer Academy will have a place in this future.

There will be no question about that! Summer Academy will exist for many, many more years.



The Student Ilse Kiener, Tex Rubinowitz and Heinrich Schellhorn in conversation


Visiting Tex's class



While Wednesday was long, Thursday was a relaxed day, with some more rain, of course. Tonight is the exhibition at Periscope and tomorrow Open Days. Hanging out around art, that's how I roll now. :)



27/07/17 19:22 Summer Academy 2017

Thinking with Ruth Noack - A Few Words About the Curatorial Course

Curators are a special bunch. They are very involved in their own world, guided by Ruth Noack, a renowned curator and their teacher for the course. In a short conversation, I learned more about how she approaches the 2-week summer course.


Ruth Noack giving a lecture


When you were invited, how did you approach the idea of teaching a summer course in curating?

What was really interesting about the Salzburg program is the democratic policy behind it. So, anyone can apply, it’s not geared towards either professionals or the lay people, so there is a mix. The most important thing for me is that I didn’t choose students, I just accepted anyone who applied.

How did you devise the program for the course?

There’s only one basic principle that is relevant here, which is to think of works of art as having a meaning, trying to gather this meaning, further this meaning by conceiving of these works within an exhibition. It’s quite abstract and it can take different forms. I called it “thinking with works”, to really take the works of art as the basis of the curatorial approach.

And how do you transfer this idea to students, in what forms?

Well, I brought some original artworks, that’s how we started. My students were also asked to bring some, so they had them with them. We started looking at them, talking about them, ordering them into small groups of what might be a small exhibition.

You mentioned that your students come from different practices or no practice at all. Do you try to introduce some kind of coherence in your class?

The good thing is that I’m not working on my own, I have a co-teacher. She is very important for managing this discrepancy and diversity. Grace Samboh, she comes from Indonesia. Grace is very used to working in groups and in collectives, so she’s incredibly good in enabling a group to cohere while keeping their diversity. Some days are better than other days with this, of course sometimes different interests arise and that can become a conflict, but generally, I’ve made it clear that everyone’s to be taken seriously and everyone’s to be heard.

After this course, what are you hoping that the students will take with them?

If you’re asking what I hope to instill in them it’s kind of curatorial ethics. I don’t think curating can be taught in 2 weeks, I’m not even sure curating should be taught at all. I learned on my own and many of the curators that I really respect never went through curatorial courses, so I think that curatorial courses in universities are often a bit of a humbug. It’s a selling point, but not necessarily producing people who have something to say and just producing very obedient people within a system. That’s my personal view, and I might be the only one who thinks so and still teaches curating.

So, what I’m hoping to instill at least within these two weeks is people who understand that they really need to want to do what they’re doing and they need to also maybe not make compromises in that. Basically, each of us only has one lifetime and one shouldn’t waste one’s time.


Ruth Noack during her lecture




Tonight, Ruth's co-teacher, Grace Samboh will be giving a lecture. And I have a meeting with a very important man.



Read about it tomorrow!


Till then,



26/07/17 12:50 Summer Academy 2017

Telling a Story Together with Tex Rubinowitz

Upon entering Tex Rubinowitz’s classroom, I found a large group of people sitting around the long table, engaged in a lively discussion in German. Catching about every tenth word, I struggled to grasp what the conversation is about, but the creative and positive atmosphere was evident from the start.

It’s like a beehive,” Tex said to me later describing the climate in the room, “Everything is buzzing, full of sound and that makes me happy.” Comparing the second to the first, more difficult week, he shared that the entire experience is like a group workshop, a sort of a psycho-buzzing artistic therapy in which each student speaks, connects and works with another. In our conversation, he compared their joint practice to the practices of Fluxus, which marks this course the most interdisciplinary of all.



You told me that your class is about telling stories. In what sense?

In the sense of what comes first. Is the picture first, or is it the idea. They are both connected. I think what the idea or the story can tell is more important. Many students came here with ideas and now they are developing them. So we are trying to work with that, change it and make something new, in a group and in the space. We work as a group and try to feel the space and the city of Salzburg, we are getting to know each other and the surroundings. We have grown to like each other very much and on Friday, when everything is done, it will surely be melancholic. We’ve become very connected during this time of working together.  The biggest thing what we are doing is not visible, it’s a social matter.

How do you see the dynamics of the class changing from the beginning? When I came on the first day, everybody was at their desk, doing their own thing and now everybody is together, chatting, laughing…

In the beginning, we didn’t even know each other’s names and we’ve had this quick transformation into knowing each other and learning about the attitudes, background, family status and other things. I believe this is important, it’s normal for a group that will spend two intensive weeks together.

How do you approach your role as a teacher and transfer the idea to the class?

I ask them a lot. I see what they are producing and ask them to incorporate personal things and work out problems in the work. It’s not a material thing, we have a student who does a dance performance. Everything could be a picture and nothing has to be a picture, it’s more important to talk.

What are you hoping the students will take from this experience when they leave?

I think friendship and brighter horizons. And to know that this is a beautiful experiment in space, and that was not a bad idea. Last year I had a smaller group and connecting was a challenge. So now, in a larger group the exchange, the fluid flows much easier, so people can make the exchange and inspire each other, and themselves.


Ilse is the oldest student in Tex's class, working on her Salzburg stories


Neda is working on a book about the class, interviewing each of her classmates. This is Ilse's story


Josef is keen on photography. He connected his passion with the stories from his classmates


Antje is building her own paradise garden, or a zoo





Tex will give an artist's talk tonight, right after Valerie Jouve. I am hoping to get some warmth from that, because Salzburg summer is not summery at all, at least not at the moment.



Until tomorrow!



25/07/17 16:20 Summer Academy 2017

Showing the Reality We Believe Inside - A Talk with Valerie Jouve

“Photography is not something that I can show, but something that can help me induce a feeling, a strong feeling that I felt.” This is how Valerie Jouve explains one of the aspects of her photographic practice. She takes pictures only after hours of preparation and heaps of sketches and notes. This year, she is teaching the Photography course for the second time to a dedicated group of artists. “It’s a good class,” she said, while we talked about her teaching approach and her ideas about the photography as a means of expression.


Valerie Jouve demonstrating how the 4x5 camera works


You have a very relaxed and individual approach. How do you approaching the teaching task laid before you?

The teaching for me means to accompany more than to instruct. I believe that people coming into my class already have some knowledge of the subject, so just giving them exercise is not my way. Mainly, I believe that each person individually has their own story to tell with photography.

How do you see photography when you talk to people?

Photography means so many different things. It’s a very open tool. But what I aim to teach is that making a picture, even a good picture, is not enough. A picture has to be more - a link to a thinking position in regard to the world. It’s how the photographer perceives the world in all aspects, a way of seeing with the brain. If we don’t have this, then what we have is a mere look. A photograph is therefore not real, it shows a way of thinking and defends the reality we believe on the inside.

Why did you choose to teach 4 by 5 camera?

Because it’s the base of photography. This is the camera obscura. And also a tool that you cannot use to make a snapshot. You really have to think about the image you want to construct, not to take. It’s all about the thinking and the sense the artist gives to the image.

Now that one week is over, you know your students, I saw they did some pictures. Where are you hoping to arrive by the end of the course?

Most of the students are really inside their own practice. I will accompany them on their way of learning how to organize a picture, how to put pictures in relation to each other and space, how to make people feel the image with their bodies and not only their eyes. This is the matter of mental construction, in between the picture making. I will never show the type of pictures where art object are shown one by one. For me, now, it doesn’t make sense.

What makes sense?

It makes sense if somebody goes to an exhibition and change their ideas a lot. If they get a different grasp of their previous view. In my work, I present a certain level of utopia, which is very important, because I construct my own landscape. Such a construction radiates into space in a certain way and this is what I think photography can do.


Valerie and Nina in the darkroom, preparing


Valerie Jouve and her class at the Summer Academy 2017




At the end of a slow and rainy Monday, I am looking forward to the Mark Van Yetter's Artist's Talk and some quiet time. With chocolate.


Read ya tomorrow!



24/07/17 17:31 Summer Academy 2017

The First Week of First Times

The first week at the Summer Academy was the week of first times for me. I’ve come to Austria for the first time, for the first time I am required to keep a blogging diary of this sort, for the first time I am surrounded with this many creative people at all times and for the first time I experienced two creative processes first hand. The first one was in the printing studio and you can read about my experience here. The second one was in the photographic darkroom where I learned that light is just like water - it always finds a way in, and that four minutes in the complete dark can feel like forever.





Before I got to Salzburg, it was the first time in a long time that I have spent about 40 hours on the road with very little sleep. Wednesday was the day I started feeling at home for the first time. Tomorrow is my first weekend.


I have also had a personal premiere of the moody Salzburger thunderstorm and the rivers running down the street, which had me miss the first walk around Salzburg dedicated to the act of “Seeing”. Canceled because of the weather, the walk might be repeated in the coming weeks, but what I also missed was William Kentridge’s talk, which is my sole regret this week.


To get back to the exciting experiences, I got to see the etching process yesterday and not see, but rather hear, a film developing process today. I’m ending this week with tired eyes, so I invite you to close your eyelids and take an audio-peek into the darkroom with Valerie Jouve, her co-teacher Nina and students (and journalists!) Anette and Angelica and experience what the developing of 6 pieces of 4 by 5 negatives sounds like! Scroll down for the audio.


Have a lovely weekend!




P.S. Even though the world's day of ice-cream was yesterday, I've had my first portion of the lovely Eis only today, so there's that as well.



21/07/17 19:33 Summer Academy 2017

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