Vital Use

"Vital Use" – Exhibition Concept

VITAL USE offers the opportunity to break out of ghettos and carry art into other contexts. Art flows into life and life into art. Boundaries become porous. The essential happens in the spaces between. "That the artist takes the responsibility to transform every other kind of human activity in communication with each other". (Michelangelo Pistoletto) One focus lies in the intention of all participating artists to involve different spheres and to expand their own activity into different spheres. Must works still be protected? Since they take up a position towards the elemental and vital problems and requirements in art, the artists in VITAL USE pose the question as to the intrinsic value of art. "Function melts form." (Stewart Brand) 

The starting point of Vital use is the fact that more and more artists are creating their own production and distribution structures out of their dissatisfaction with the existing structures. Artists/businesspeople such as Andrea Zittel or Fabrice Hybert create real-life situations and connections in contrast to the fictive companies of the eighties which were most concerned with the fiction of the logo.

"When consumption is the main purpose of all productivity, then life is the main purpose of consumption." John Ruskin

VITAL USE brings artistic production back to life. In his writings on national economy John Ruskin switched the focus from producers to consumers / recipients.

The question of dialogue is central to each article or anything which is produced. The expansion of life becomes the aim of production which, through its conscious use of resources, strives to maintain various connections to life. Ruskin shows that meaningful trade always creates a connection to people. Asger Jorn showed that the art work is nothing other than an acknowledgement of people from the essential source of people. "Production, product and consumption from a triangle of interdependent elements in Ruskin's vital economy. Man forms the centre of this structure which fills utility and value with life-giving power." (J.C. Sheburne)

In view of the crisis in traditional means of communication the position of artists is undergoing a redefinition. More active intervention in questions of production and distribution is the result. VITAL USE gives artists who work on their own production and distribution structures the opportunity to present their work during the course of a year in the form of a newspaper exhibition in the daily newspaper "Der Standard".

The works have a double code in common: the symbolic and useful functions entwine, whereby to the homogeneity of the art work gives way to the heterogeneity of consumption. In this context dispersion is a structural feature; for the artist it is no longer a question of selfcontained objects but much more of exploring what happens between the people and the object. It is a question of the direct involvement of the readers in which potentially everyone can take part.

VITAL USE offers the opportunity to break out of ghettos and carry art into other contexts. Art flows into life and life into art.

Boundaries become porous. The essential happens in the spaces between. "That the artist takes the responsibility to transform every other kind of human activity in communication with each other". (Michelangelo Pistoletto)

One focus lies in the intention of all participating artists to involve different spheres and to expand their own activity into different spheres.

Must works still be protected? Since they take up a position towards the elemental and vital problems and requirements in art, the artists in VITAL USE pose the question as to the intrinsic value of art.

"Function melts form." (Stewart Brand)

(September 1995)


Hans-Ulrich Obrist would like to thank all the artists, Josef Ortner, Kathrin Messner and Stella Rollig for their great cooperation. I would also like to thank: Marius Babias, Elisabeth Mc Crae, Lisson Gallery, Lisa Corrin, Delta X, Anthony Fawcett, Judith Fischer, Dr. Robert Fleck, Dr. LuciusGriesebach, Rebecca King Lassmann, Prof. Kasper König, Galerie Rebecca King-Lassmann, Krome and Schipper, Dr.Christa Maar, Andre Magnin, Julia Peyton-Jones, Maria Pioppi, Michael Philips, Prof. Ernst Pöppel, Helmut Ritter, Andrea Rosen Gallery, Andrea Schlieker, Michael Sedivy, Jean Starobinski.

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