just us at work
- Crafts & Traditional Arts
- Visual Arts
"just us at work" is a 13-week public art action.
The art action will take place each weekday from 10:00 am - 1:00 pm and 2:00 pm - 5:00 pm in the entrance hall of the Amtsgericht, Frankfurtstraße 9, Kassel, Germany from June 1 - Sept 10, 2012.
Lead artists include Deborah Doering, DOE Projekts, Chicago, USA and Veronica Betani and Cebo Mvubu, KAP (Keiskamma Art Project) Artists, Hamburg, South Africa.
Artists from both groups will use the forms of "zero and one" as a point of departure for creating art works by hand, including needle-worked images, stencil-cuttings, drawings and text works.
"Our focus will be working with our hands in the Amtsgericht entrance hall," said Deborah Doering.
"We will be using fabric, thread, yarn, beads, scissors, paper, synthetic paper, pencils, pens — materials generally seen as 'low tech' materials."
"Using these materials, we will create works that depict zero and one forms, and also forms that indicate movement between zeros and ones (tildes, swashes)."
"The zero and one represent the digital age in which we live and they are often associated with 'high-tech' contemporary culture."
"The art action 'just us at work' expresses tension, anomaly, and contradiction by using 'low-tech' materials to express 'high-tech' concept-based work, influenced and framed by the contemporary art dialogue."
" 'just us at work' allows DOE and KAP artists to connect, face-to-face, with no digital divide between us — using zeros and ones as the point of departure for works made from 'low-tech' materials, materials which are very accessible to viewers who might call themselves simply the 'art curious.' "
"Yet, for those who consider themselves the 'art-knowledgeable,' the conceptual and formal aspects of 'just us at work' are abundant," continued Doering.
History and Development of 'just us at work'
The connection between DOE Projekts and KAP Artists began when Doering encountered KAP's work touring the US in 2006.
"I was visually captivated by the KAP artists' use of fabric, embroidery thread, yarn, beadwork, photographic images, etc. They expressed their Xhosa history and also their community's present-day concerns by engaging the forms of some well-known Western art historical works such as the Bayeux Tapestry (French, 1070) and the Isenheim Altarpiece (German, 1506)," said Doering. The Chicago-based American artist also saw a connection to her own art practice.
"KAP's needlework used a particular system of horizontal and vertical stitches. I saw and felt a visual connection to my own system of visual form. I contacted the group via email and asked if they might be open to a collaboration."
Eventually, Doering and a patron of DOE Projekts, V.G. Carreon, journeyed to South Africa in 2010. The KAP artists plus Doering and Carreon worked together on a series of pieces titled "Night Sky Constellation," -- pieces that also used zero and one forms as a point of departure.
"Our initial work together was a success. We continued to keep in touch via email after our collaboration," said Doering. "And then in 2011, I had the opportunity to do an art residency in Kassel and Berlin. I learned about public art works that have been a part of past Documenta exhibitions. I heard Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev speak about her ideas for Documenta 13. I began to imagine a public work that would use DOE Projekts' forms, as well as the skills and forms of the KAP artists."
In January 2012, Doering received an invitation to create an "art action" in the entrance hall of Kassel's Offices of Justice (Amtsgericht) through a contact she made during her art residency.
"The Amtsgericht location is perfect for 'just us at work' because it is where 'justice' is administered in Kassel. One of the definitions of justice is 'a fair and equitable return.' I believe artists, in fact, all people who work with their hands and hearts, seek a fair and equitable return for their efforts."
"One of the central questions our collaborative 'art action' asks viewers is 'can that which is often marginalized — artists-artisans from struggling areas of the world, communal 'women's work,' indeed, handwork and craft — be viewed through a conceptual 'zero and one' framework, and thus be valued as wha one might call and 'überobjekt' — as Art?"
"We invite people to come, see 'just us at work,' and then ask and perhaps answer this question for themselves. We invite people to interact with us, ask questions about what 'Art' is, and where and how our efforts fit in with the international contemporary art dialogue that is very present in Kassel this summer," concluded Doering.