AboutICIA Art Space 1, University of Bath
Free admission - All welcome
Artist Margareta Kern took up 'residence' at the University of Bath during March and April 2010 in a project organised by ICIA (Institute of Contemporary Interdisciplinary Arts). The results of her residency go on show in a multi-media exhibition entitled Guest, from 6 May to 18 June in ICIA's Art Space 1. ICIA's theme for its programme of activities for 2010 is the place of work. In response to this Kern was based in the Department of Social and Policy Sciences where she met leading experts in the fields of work, welfare, globalisation, poverty, social policy and employment. This gave Kern an opportunity to explore, compare and contrast her own artistic methods of enquiry with those used in the sociology of work. Wearing specially tailor-made work-wear, Kern then began a wider engagement with a range of staff and students across the University community and its environment.
Engaging with the 'psychogeography' of the University, Kern has created a multi-faceted work, sensitively and playfully exploring issues of work and labour, and its sociological and artistic representation.
Kern occupied the gallery area, Art Space 1, which is en route to the busy University refectory. Over the weeks of her residency the many people who regularly pass through the gallery were able to see Kern's work-in-progress installation develop and change, sometimes on a daily basis. Via blackboards, she invited staff and students to write their opinions about working life, meet her for a tea break, be photographed with her in their workplace.
Kern recorded her presence with still photography, moving image and written text. Intrigued by the public and private use of space at work, she explored the campus -- photographing academics' office doors decorated with a mix of professional notices and personal memorabilia. Kern met with University staff that wear uniforms or protective clothing, such as physics lab technicians, security staff, postal workers, chefs and cleaners, and took a photograph as a record. She upturns the conventional divide between artist or researcher and their subject by stepping in front of the camera herself.
Kern's photographic and video work to date draws on documentary portraiture, a process resembling anthropological 'field work'. Kern's University of Bath project grew out of an understanding that her artistic methods have many similarities to the work carried out by academic researchers. The residency has given Kern the opportunity to conduct her own field work. On campus she is away from home; she visits the library, attends lectures, has conversations, sleeps in student halls, travels to and from 'work' and documents her impressions and interactions. Throughout this period Kern wore her own work-wear making her presence highly visible.
Prior to her residency Kern conducted a two month project in Berlin where she researched the 'guest workers' who were part of the mass labour migration from the socialist Yugoslavia to West Germany in the late 1960's.
Kern is a London based artist, originally from Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, who came to the UK at the outbreak of the civil war in 1992. Kern studied Fine Art at Goldsmiths College and South East European Studies with Anthropology at UCL London. Her work has been shown extensively nationally including Tate Modern, Impressions Gallery and Castlefield Gallery, and internationally -- her recent solo exhibition Clothes for Living & Dying toured to Croatia, Germany and the UK.
This residency is supported by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.
Kern is writing a blog about Guest