Labzone Mai-Thu Perret

Mai-Thu Perret

“Every material practice is a Ph.D. in having hands” Anne Boyer[1]

This Labzone is centered around the idea of production/fabrication and aims to investigate how we as artists make our work, in a material way. We will explore notions such as craftsmanship and delegation, the collaboration between artists and artisans, and the indexical relation between artist and artwork. It will take us into notions of gesture, expression, physical touch, versus labor, construction, and semi-industrial “production.” If we have been through the deskilling of the artist in the art of the 60s and 70s, what does it mean to work with highly specialized craftspeople or to use materials associated with traditional studio craft today? How can negativity and chance still be our guides through this process?

The Labzone will take place in two parts, the first is a visit to Kunstgiesserei, a large workshop in St Gallen which specializes in the production of sculptures and installations. The students will take a tour of the art foundry, learn about the different production techniques available there (metal foundry, 3D scanning, design, and printing, mold making, plaster, resins and polymers, ceramic, glass fusing, etc.), and see artworks at different stages of realization. We will also visit the material archive, the library, and the exhibition space housed at Sittterwerk, a sister foundation to the foundry located in the same industrial compound. I am currently producing a large-scale public art piece at the foundry, so the students will be able to see the development process and the techniques used to create the work, such as incremental metal forming, embossing from press molds or direct casting without a mold. In addition, we can also visit some exhibitions/museums in St Gallen. (Eric Baudelaire which was partially produced at Kunstgiesserei at Kunsthalle St Gallen until 28.11 and Marie Lund until 22.03 at Kunstmuseum St Gallen).

The second part of the Labzone will be a practical workshop at Cercco, focusing on ceramic as a material for sculpture. This Labzone assumes no prior knowledge or experience with ceramics, we will start with a quick introduction to the material, its physical structure, and the changes it undergoes as we shape / dry / fire/glaze, and look at some examples / key artistic positions using ceramics in sculpture. We will also consider the performative nature of many aspects of the ceramic process once one moves out of the «studio» tradition (i.e. ceramics as functional pottery) and into the expanded field of sculpture and more conceptual approaches. During the course of a week-long workshop at Cercco students will be able to work on their own pieces using a variety of techniques such as modeling, working with coils, slab building, and assembly. A strong emphasis will be placed on working together and on process.

[1] “The governing grass of a dream language”,