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Kathrin Engler
Exhibition & Residency:
March 1 – March 31, 2013

Kathrin Engler will be conducting her residency in conjunction with the Getty Museum, her research project focuses on how American conceptual artist Andrea Zittel (*1965) addresses the idea and practices of consumption by interrogating contemporary designs for living, their practices of organization, structures and rules. While in Los Angeles, Engler will focus on the “American” roots of her work by mainly doing research at the Getty Institute, UCLA library and the artist’s home base “A-Z West” in Joshua Tree, CA.

Patterns of Life – Andrea Zittel’s A-Z Enterprise

How does contemporary art address the idea and practices of consumption? Operating under the corporate identity, A-Z Enterprise [1], Zittel creates usable, inhabitable objects, textile sculptures, and environments. Yet, her A-Z Enterprise is not so much a design studio as an ongoing autobiographical artistic experiment. In the process of producing designs that respond to Zittel’s own living circumstances, the artist examines modernism’s history with the critical intent of laying open its guiding assumptions.

Drawing on art historical, sociological, and philosophical theory and methods this project will outline the collusion of art and design in Andrea Zittel’s oeuvre and contextualize it within the history of modernist and contemporary art and design. A particular focus will be on present forms of conceptual art that her work exemplifies: the constant shifting of artistic boundaries; and a current preoccupation in art with the impact of economic production systems and social structures on the “design” of people’s daily lives.

Based on a close investigation of her works, this project aims at developing an interpretation of the specifics of Zittel’s practice, that constitute the core of her critical art making. It will entail close analysis of how Zittel’s works demonstrate that designed objects and environments incarnate prevailing social values. This section will draw on a number of theories of structures of social control and their implications for the agency of modern subjects, in order to explicate her thinking on these matters: How does Andrea Zittel question commonly held assumptions about consumer society as expressed through designed objects and environments?

[1] The A-Z is named after Andrea Zittel’s initials. “A-Z. An institute of investigative living: the A-Z enterprise encompasses all aspects of day to day living. Home furniture, clothing, food all become the sites of investigation in an ongoing endeavor to better understand human nature and the social construction of needs.” See “A-Z. An Institute of Investigative Living.”. Accessed August 3, 2010.

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