Friday, 30 November 2007

Fabrications, Craft in the 21st century

This symposium was held on Friday 23 November 2007 at the V&A in conjunction with the exhibition Out of the ordinary. I have full notes in my file but the main themes I found interesting are mentioned here.

Displaced making, when artists have their work made by professional fabricators, was discussed. The general consensus seemed to be that if this was acknowledge it was acceptable although many galleries have a problem with it because there are problems over authorship. Many of the works in Out of the Ordinary had required collaboration, for example between craftspeople and film makers and this seems to be the path crafts is taking.

In a discussion on displaying crafts, Jorunn Veiteberg noted that a white room is not a neutral setting for craft. Also, the amount of space round an artwork indicates its prestige and value. She also reminded us that experience is always mediated and that while aesthetics are still relevant in craft they are no longer relevant in art.

Sorrel Hershberg noted that what you call yourself affects the status of your work as does where it is shown. She also told us that in general craft horizons are seen as narrow – why limit yourself to only one thing? Immersing yourself in one technique hinders your design. This is why many artists embrace the technique of craft but refuse its nomenclature. I found this slightly confusing because I can see sticking to one craft could be limiting, but painters and sculptors generally stick to one ‘craft’ and no one accuses them of being limited!

Charley Peters concluded by saying that the V&A tries not to be the museum of technique. He noted that you don’t go to the Tate and see how paintings are made. I completely agree with this, so many people in the crafts world want to add technique to exhibitions, but all it does is devalue the ideas because you are effectively saying “look this is so easy anyone can do it” without explaining that it takes years to develop craft techniques to a high standard and beautiful craft is no use without the conceptual input into the work.

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