open form is an open studio and conversation platform founded and based in Athens. Every three months open form invites a group of artists to share with the public their studio space and engage in conversation about their processes and methodologies of making. open form chooses to manifest outside the institutions usually allocated for the discourse and exhibition of contemporary art. Instead, open form joins the artists' private space with the open space, inviting the public to locations that serve as inspiration or place of research and preparation for the artists involved with the intention of creating an in-between ‘third space’ to manifest where social interaction and knowledge exchange can happen.
The Open Form is not exclusively a speculative discovery of our times. It is above all the post-observational conclusion of the existing configurations. (Oskar Hansen, 1959)
The studio could be interpreted as an extension of the artist’s ideas, visions, illusions and hallucinations into the physical realm. In contemporary artistic practice it is a transitory space that manifests in numerous forms, constantly in flux between the work-desk, the Cloud, the virtual, the cerebral and all other versions of itself. open form interprets the studio in loose terms and welcomes the individual artists’ interpretation of it. Artists are free to decide their mode of interaction with the visitors - a performance, a reading, a presentation, a tour, etc.
open form is an experiment in understanding contemporary artistic practices backwards. Rather than looking at the finished idea(work) as is presented in the exhibition setting, to consider instead the steps and decisions before it came into being. open form is directly inspired by the work of Polish architect Oskar Hansen who established and developed the philosophy of Open Form. At the International Congress of Modern Architecture (CIAM) held in Otterlo in 1959, Hansen proposed an open architecture, meaning user friendly, inclusive and adaptable to its users as opposed to the closed form architecture of Le Corbusier. Open Form was devised as a series of apparatuses to be applied to architecture, but also extend to urban development, design, society and art. Open Form’s function was to create links between human activities, their flux and their setting, while simultaneously responding and adapting to/for them. For example, Hansen envisioned the museum as a flexible and adjustable structure that evolves together with the unpredictable organism that art is.
Hansen was also a professor at the Sculpture Department of the Art Academy in Warsaw and conducted workshops, set exercises and organised events that centered on the concept of Open Form. His aim was to encourage his students to reconsider the invisible limits exercised on architecture, society, art, their subjectivity and ultimately their practices.
In many works from this period, there is no clear separation between documentation and work of art; instead the works open a tense field in which the visual space and the space of the physical environment are questioned in relationship to each other. Przemyslaw Kwiek documented successive formal and material transformations of his sculptural work, at the center of the projects was his recognition of the documentation of the process as the work itself.(4)
Considering Hansen’s rejection of the hierarchical, authoritarian model of relation between artist and recipient, open form in Athens asks the artists instead of relying on their objects/work to speak on their behalf, to communicate directly with their audience. Our interaction with art is usually limited to visiting exhibitions, the artist’s webpage and perhaps learning about them through articles and interviews written by third parties. On the other hand, open form hopes to offer a more intimate way of understanding the work by meeting and speaking with the artist. It should be mentioned here that for an artist to welcome strangers inside her/his most cherished space and share with them the backstage of their practice is an exercise of openness and hospitality.
The root of Open Form is theoretically based on the relational formation of the subjectivity with the form.(2)
Speaking about space means traditionally addressing our physical environment, the arena of architecture, urban planning, and design. Yet, most importantly, space is also the medium in which people interact with the world and with each other. In this sense, space is not necessarily material – rather it’s a medium that allows relations, material or immaterial, that connects, activates, enable, reproduces, and records.(1)
open form sets 4 conditions for the artists involved:
1- the artist is present
2- focus is on process and not the result
3- priority is assigned to communication rather than exhibition
4- there is no completed work on display
Open Form that is set outside institutional conformism demands a radical experience of subjectivity. This “radical experience” is based on Derrida’s notion of “hospitality”.(5) With the concept of “hospitality”, Derrida sets out to theorize a non-canonical concept of friendship. Hospitality for him is the manner in which we relate to ourselves and to others. He asserts an “unconditional hospitality” in which the condition of meeting, facing, and opening yourself to a stranger is without preventions or preconditions that would define the unexpected encounter, which is unconditionally open. Generally, invitation is the basic prerequisite in hospitality. However, in ‘unconditional hospitality’, the crucial element is to take the risk of accepting the “stranger”, whoever he or she is. “Unconditional hospitality” is therefore a radical experiment.” (5)
open form has taken Hansen’s theory as reference to construct this nomadic platform. Nevertheless, it considers first and foremost as its main source of inspiration the unique characteristics of the city of Athens itself and the artists that inhabit it.
open form has already taken place once before in Athens and plans to continue reappearing on a trimonthly basis.
Organised by Denise Araouzou
(1) Axel Wieder, "Works-for-Film and Open Form", eds. Axel Wieder and Florian Zeyfang, Open Form, Space, Interaction and the tradition of Oskar Hansen, (Sternberg Press: Berlin, 2014), pg. 52
(2) Pelin Tan, "Open Form as a Possibility of Radical Experience", eds., Axel Wieder and Florian Zeyfang, Open Form, Space, Interaction and the tradition of Oskar Hansen, (Sternberg Press: Berlin, 2014), pg. 150
(3) Ibid, pg. 150
(4) Axel Wieder, Florian Zeyfang, "Introduction", eds., Axel Wieder and Florian Zeyfang, Open Form, Space, Interaction and the tradition of Oskar Hansen, (Sternberg Press: Berlin, 2014), pg. 12
(5) Jacques Derrida, “What about hospitality? Politics and Friendship”, in 'A discussion with Jacques Derrida', Centre for Modern French Thought, University of Sussex, December 1, 1997, pg.151
(6) Pelin Tan, "Open Form as a Possibility of Radical Experience", eds., Axel Wieder and Florian Zeyfang, Open Form, Space, Interaction and the tradition of Oskar Hansen, (Sternberg Press: Berlin, 2014), pg. 150
>open form 1.