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Installation class Beutler

Mining the Conglomerate

The sculpture and installation class taught by artist Michael Beutler this summer, and co-instructed by Gerry Bibby and Ida Lennartsson, bears the intriguing title “In the Conglomerate.” The name is a wonderfully evocative metaphor that invokes the practice of aggregating materials and experimenting with different textures and techniques as an artist. But as I’ve learned from Michael, it is also a very topical reference to the geological phenomenon of conglomerate, a “coarse-grained sedimentary rock composed of fragments embedded in cementing material such as silica,” which is actually the makeup of Salzburg’s Mönchsberg mountain. It’s unusual, as it is uncharacteristic for the Alpine region.


The class is planning a visit to Salzburg’s natural history museum today, to learn more about the unique sediment of the conglomerate rock that was deposed here during the Holstein interglacial period.


How does this approach toward materiality translates to what’s happening in the workshop? The first exercise the participants engaged in was to create a self-portrait using a standard wooden stool and whatever other materials they could find. Here’s a small taste of the variety of sculptural and material amalgamations that resulted from the task:



Meanwhile in the studio, there’s evidence of experiments with materials everywhere, from gooey papier-mâché hardening in pails to a potpourri of substances mixing in buckets. How much fun is being had in the process? Two “wall enhancements” in the shape of a plaster cast banana and banana peel might give some clues…




  • 29 July 2019
by Hili Perlson
Hili Perlson
Hili Perlson is a Berlin-based writer, art critic, and lecturer. Between 2015-2018, she was the European Editor of artnet News, for which she continues to write as a regular contributor. Her articles have also appeared in Artforum, Art in America, Galerie Magazine, The Financial Times, Frieze, The New York Times, Metropolis M, South China Morning Post,, and Zoo Magazine, among others, as well as numerous exhibition catalogues. From 2010–2014, she was the Deputy Editor of Sleek Magazine for Art and Fashion. She also teaches fashion journalism at AMD, Berlin.