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the Seeding; Sundaymorning@EKWC

the Seeding is a series of ceramic objects that I developed during my residency at the European Ceramic Work Centre. For this new series, I'm exploring the possibilities of displaying the chemical potential of ceramic materials. As a starting point, I use my photographic procedure as a model to try and build similar worlds, using layers of crystalline glazes. The crystals form in the glaze in a chemical reaction during cooling and grow from small nuclei. The formation, shapes and colours of the crystals is determined by a specific ratio of oxides in the glaze recipe and the amount of layers applied on the claybody.
Some years ago I became intrigued by the materiality of the ceramic medium, the physical potential that lies curled up in it. Specifically when used as a substrate to reveal its elemental chemistry: an attempt to isolate and ‘frame’ transformations that occur while processing and preparing claybodies (molding, drying etc) and firing (minutely controlling temperatures in kilns)
Entering my residency, I was unfamiliar with the ceramic process, so a big challenge. At the same time, such an technical approach did help to speed up my understanding of the ceramic process.
Obviously, before you can control the physical and chemical properties of any material, one needs to aquire specific knowledge and understand the full cycle of this process. 

Sundaymorning@EKWC
I could not imagine a more suitable place for these first steps then the EKWC residency. The patience and advice of the staffis magnificent, their technical knowledge exceptional and all facilities are complete, efficient and available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Perhaps the best way to expres the success of their formula is by refering to the objects that I made within the three-month working period. Again, with almost zero experience.


Craft
during my residency I came across an essay from Douglas Coupland in a book called 40 under 40, Craft Future. His proposal, to reclassify “contemporary craft” as art-objects that deploy craftsmanship as their medium, resonate strongly with my personal motivation to explore the material properties of ceramics.

[...] if anybody can be an artist, then anything can be art. We are entering a era where the driving force of everyday life is the continuing pursuit of what writer William Gibson calls “curated novelty” And even in this new realm, bad art is still art. And non-art? Even non-art, we know, is art by default: a ready-made! And yet there is something causing unease amidst this extravaganza. There is one sabot to be thrown into the machinery of the curated twenty-first-century lifestyle, and this is craft. Craft?! Yikes! Spit take. Craft is not art. Craft is skill based. Craft is sentimental. Craft has no critical rigor. Craft means that a (one must grudgingly admit) creative person has chosen to limit his or her expression to one medium -one medium - in a post medium world where it is only the idea that is permitted to generate form [...] Since the realm of art began to strobe ad flicker with (video) installations, light-scapes, and soundscapes, isms of all sorts flourished and multiplied. To walk into a contemporary art museum anywhere on earth, one has now come to expect by rote, the walled-off room containing flickering and squawking images projected by a highly lumened digital projector, or empty floor space with perhaps some chalk outlines or a piece of string and...well.... The problem here is the word ‘rote’. Or, perhaps the problem is the phrase “come to expect”. One now often feels let down by the contemporary art museum unless it delivers to us a set of objects and experiences that feel like contemporary art – which is the exact opposite of what contemporary art is intended to be.
Andre Breton wrote; “if your experience is not strange, then it is false”, and by this standard, many contemporary art institutions are on their way to becoming factories of falseness.
And enter the next generation of craft: skill married with what seems to be critical rigor and a willingness that, in the presence of an increasingly arid conceptual realm, now feels almost radical. Cultures shift; technology morphs. Aesthetic experiences and objects are now dividing into the binary categories of downloadable and non-downloadable. The new museums being built are ones that focus on the digital, causing a necessary re-evaluation of what happens with physical stuff. One can look at some of the contemporary art being made and reclassify it by saying that rather than it being, it is folk art that uses modernist vernaculars as its medium. Similarly, one can reclassify some contemporary “craft” as art objects that deploy craftsmanship as their medium. It’s wordplay, but it’s increasingly more relevant wordplay.

Made possible with the generous support of  Fonds Kwadraat & EKWC

       



Mark