Another day, another artist talk: on Tuesday evening we heard from Ekaterina Shapiro-Obermair, who started her mixed-media course, At The Interface, on Monday. Ekatherina’s work encompasses many different mediums – painting, graphic art, sculpture, video and installation – and is quite layered and complex, so I enjoyed hearing her give some insight into her practice. Ekatherina was born and grew up in Moscow before moving to Nuremberg with her family aged 18. She studied at the Academy of Fine Arts, Nuremberg, which was at that time very America-focused (no doubt because the city is located in West Germany) and because of this she says that the references to Russia in her work come via her American-inflected education rather than due to the circumstances of her birth. This was the kind of information that the audience would never get just from looking at an exhibition of Ekatherina’s work (I can also imagine that institutions have used her nationality to their own ends in the past) and it reminded me how important it is to hear artists in their own words.
This afternoon, I had a date to visit Caroline Achaintre’s class but when I arrived they’d just got back from a trip to Schloss Hellbrunn and were in desperate need of a lunch break. Upon my return, I found the students in complete silence sculpting pieces of clay while wearing eye masks. It felt more than a little creepy to watch them without their knowledge (or consent!), so I left them to it and wandered over to Martin Herbert’s classroom where they were having a small celebration to mark their last day at the Summer Academy.
They’ve been collectively working on a magazine that features texts which, according to Martin’s introductory text, “Move in and out of the genre of art criticism, and offer a viewpoint on contemporary art, in Salzburg and beyond, as it stood in the long hot summer of 2018.” The magazine will be available to view online soon, but for now it was printed out and matter-of-factly stuck onto the wall of their studio. I had a quick chat with co-teacher Andrea Kopranovic and she explained that over the past ten days the students had completed three writing tasks: a freeform text of 500 words about one of the current exhibitions at Museum der Moderne; a text written in under 30 minutes about works from Caroline Achaintre or Ei Arakawa class; and a text that came from a Salzburg gallery tour. They were given the weekend to expand upon one of these works or write something completely new and then all 15 texts were edited by Andrea and Martin. As a result, the students wrote about a variety of things that were happening in Salzburg – including last week’s performance at the Kunstverein and the Elizabeth Peyton show at Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac – as well as other topics, such as Viennese Expressionism.
I’ll be sad to see the class go but at least they left us something to remember them by!
8 August 2018
by Chloe Stead
Chloe Stead is a writer and critic based in Berlin. Her criticism has been published by frieze, frieze d/e, Spike Art Quarterly, Sleek, Art + Australia and AnOther Magazine. Her fiction was featured most recently in Pfeil Magazine #8, published by Montez Press.
She holds a BA from Goldsmiths University of London and an MA from the Hochschule für Bildende Künste Hamburg.