In Europe, in our “post-industrial” era, we are increasingly distanced from the production of the goods we consume. Our downing of tools seems linked to a change in our relationship with the material world, provoking a more passive attitude towards the things with which we surround ourselves. When they break we throw them away, unable to fix them and unable (or unwilling) to understand how they work. In recent years, however, there has been a resurgence of interest in making, in notions of self-sufficiency and craftsmanship. While such notions may find particular resonance in these times of economic crisis, they are also part of a larger school of thinking that is reconsidering our relationship to work and production.
The exhibition Manufacture 2 explores what “production” means for artists today, not only in relation to art history but also to the shifts in our globalized, consumer society. Descendants of conceptual art as much as of our industrial heritage, the artists in Manufacture do not hesitate to delve into craftsmanship, the recuperation of materials, bricolage, employing a vocabulary of forms, gestures and techniques while avoiding the fetishisation of perfect technique. In fact, several share the practice of consciously “misusing” their chosen materials and techniques. Others explore the possibilities offered by the unknown, by failure, chance and accident.
What inspires them all in their production processes – sometimes spontaneous, sometimes laborious – is the question of practice and how this practice entails a form of emancipation. In this back-and-forth between artisanal and industrial processes, between contemporary and traditional materials, between thought and form, the artists of the exhibition develop a shared approach based on experimentation and empiricism.
Manufacture 2 is curated Zoë Gray and follows the exhibition Manufacture, previously shown at Parc Saint Léger, Centre d’art contemporain, France during