In conjunction with the exhibition Fire it Up: Ceramic as Material in Contemporary Sculpture, the participating artists were asked a few questions about this specific material and their approach to artistic production.
Fire It Up takes place at Dienstgebäude, Töpferstr. 24, Zurich, May 30-June 30, 2013. Vernissage, May 30, 7-10pm
QandA with Christian Gonzenbach
OS: Do you see yourself as a sculptor/artist or ceramicist/potter? What do you think are the differences between these terms?
CG: I see myself as a researcher in the art world. The media I use depends on my research, it goes from video to ceramics or laser, whatever will best suit the questions I have. The field I am questioning is not restricted to the field of art, but includes everyday life, science, religion…
OS: How do you produce your objects? What is the process you undertake?
CG: I produce most of my works by myself, sometimes with help of experts. The process is really important, how I transform something into something else. Most of the time I create a process, and this process will then produce the art works.
OS: Why do you think that ceramic has had such a bad reputation in modern and contemporary art?
CG: I don’t think ceramics has a bad reputation, I know so many great artists who have done incredible ceramic works!
OS: How have you come to this material in your practice and what attracts you to it? Why do you work with it?
CG: I studied ceramics because I was interested in the transformation of the matter. Everything in ceramics is about process: making the shape (clay has no shape of its own), drying, firing, glazing, firing again… In ceramics you can try everything, as the final material only appears during firing. But you have to behave like a scientist, taking notes of each step you do, in order to have some control over it. You have to make tests – you never know why things happen the way they happened. I use a similar approach in almost every work I do.
OS: Do you feel that your use of the material is essential to understanding your work, or in your case it’s incidental, more of a practical solution?
CG: I have a rather good knowledge of ceramics, but this is my own business. You don’t need to know the technical part of the work if you’re not interested.
OS: In general, do the technical demands of ceramic take away from the artist’s focus on a conceptual approach to the work? Or do you see the technical and the conceptual expressed equally through the form?
CG: In depends what you are looking for. Ceramics can be a goal in itself, challenging the material, but it can also be used just a raw material. It is open to each artist to decide how to use it.
OS: Have you encountered challenges in exhibiting your ceramic work in the contemporary art context? If so, why do you think that is? If not, what has contributed to this inclusion?
CG: My ceramic works were often well received, but I rarely show ceramics alone. I usually make exhibitions including different media, as my thinking is multiple and I like to confront different approaches to similar questions.
Editing, proofreading and translation done by Olga Stefan Consulting