15 November 2014 till 6 January 2015


Residency Marianna Liosi, Alessandra Saviotti




The cinema museum in Lyon is housed in the Lumière brothers’ old film factory; DIA: Beacon in New York resides in a building where biscuit tin labels used to be printed; WIELS is situated in a former brewery in Brussels; and Kunsthuis SYB is established in what was once a little sweets factory.

They were all places where people worked hard, often for a shrewd wage, and therefore considered to be the ideal sorts of places in the sixties for screening socially engaged films. Politically engaged cinema has since moved from the factory into the white cube, contemporary art space. And the contemporary art space has in turn moved into the factory building, which in the post-Fordian era seems to have lost its original function. Seems to have lost, because you can ask yourself whether an art space also isn’t a kind of factory. Is an institute like Kunsthuis SYB not also a place where things are produced? Things like images, yet also artist jargon, lifestyle, a set of values…

In the text “Is a museum a factory?” Hito Steyerl describes the museum as the “flagship store of cultural industry, manned by eager volunteers who are willing to work there for nothing”. If that’s the case, Steyerl asks the question: how do politically engaged films then function in this context?

Marianna Liosi and Alessandra Saviotti use this text from Steyerl as a guiding principle for their project “When spectators work, workers observe”. Over the next six weeks the co-curators will examine the role Kunsthuis SYB plays as a contemporary production company by returning to the building’s previous function: a sweets factory. During this residency period, children from the village will set up a production line and manage a supply of sweets for the upcoming festive season. They will be assisted by a professional confectioner together with the curators, staff and volunteers of SYB. The entire process – from the raw materials and the elastic mass from which sweets are crafted to the colourful stacks of boxes with self-designed labels and a brand logo – will be filmed by the artists Marcel Dickhage and Cathleen Schuster. In collaboration with Liosi and Saviotti they will develop a film script, on the basis of which image material will be collected and processed in a film in which the current debate about ‘the art space as factory’ and ‘the factory as art space’ is central. The film will be shown during the final presentation at Kunsthuis SYB.

Alessandra Saviotti and Marianna Liosi (Jan van Eyck Academie, Maastricht) have carried out research into the economic crisis since 2009. Central to their research is the effect the crisis’ manifestation in the environment of artists has on their work. In 2011, Saviotti and Liosi presented “The Nation of Art without a Future” in the framework of the Art Trail Festival: National Interest in Cork. The exhibition was the result of an investigation into how artists tackled and overcame problems in the midst of the financial crisis and the cutbacks in Italy and Ireland. During the ‘This Is Not A Gateway Festival’ in London (2013), Saviotti and Liosi organised a film screening and discussion under the title “Common Space of the Future” about the natural environment as an entity that is abused by political power.

Marcel Dickhage and Cathleen Schuster (Jan van Eyck Akademie, Maastricht) have worked together – since 2001 – on an oeuvre that can be characterised as ‘critical design’. As conceptual artists, they work with different media including photography, video, objects, installations, and text. Their work departs from classical photography and emerges in a discussion around issues such as the increasing flexibilisation of labour and the effects of globalisation. A recurring motif is the interplay between the notions of ‘documentary’ and ‘fiction’.