The Temporary Art Repair Shop is an art project conceived of and run by artist Tobias Sternberg, but hosted by various art institutions and galleries. It only appears for limited periods (a few weeks), and only when an agreement has been reached between Tobias and a suitable host. In this way, it will pop up in different parts of the art world, perform its function, and then disappear again. But it will always function in the same way, and this blog will follow it as its main documentation.
The Temporary Art Repair Shop is a kind of social game designed to entertain and explore new ideas around what it means to make public sculpture, who should pay for art and who can own it, what the worth and value of art is, and the possibility of valuing something one has gotten for free. It works in the following way:
A workshop, a mix between a simple repair shop and a sculptors studio, is set up in a gallery or art institution, staffed by artist Tobias Sternberg, and sometimes also by assistants. It is open to the public during normal business hours, and for a period of maybe a month or so. Anyone can come in and present the artist with an object; which is broken, faulty, disproportionate, ugly, unsuccessful, inappropriate or in some way not suitable for its intended purpose. The visitor explains what is wrong with the object, and depending on the work load and the suitability of the object, Tobias can then choose to accept it for remake into an artwork. If so, it is then photographed, a brief account is written detailing its shortcomings, and the visitor receives a receipt as proof of having handed it in. It is understood that this means the visitor is giving Tobias the right to do whatever he decides to with the object until it is later handed back.
During the time the Temporary Art Repair Shop is hosted, Tobias will use his skills as a sculptor to turn the deposited objects into sculptures. He will take the recorded faults as his starting point, but in no way necessarily attempt to repair them. His task is not to fix the problem, but rather the nature of the problem reveals something about how its owner sees the object which inspires Tobias in reforming it into a new art object. When, and if, finished, the object is photographed, and then displayed in the Temporary Art Repair Shop until its closing day. There are no guarantees that every accepted object will in the end turn into art objects, be this because of time restraints or lack of inspiration or whatever other reasons.
On the last day all owners are invited to come by and collect their old objects now turned into new sculptures. They don’t have to pay anything for this. The service is free. All they need to do is show up with their half of the receipt, and if they feel like it, contribute their impressions of their newly aquired artwork. Photographs of before and after, together with the comments and descriptions collected, are posted on this blog for anyone to partake. The owners are also encouraged to contribute any thoughts and reactions that might crop up later on. Should they be busy that day, then can of course send someone else (with the receipt) or arrange with the art institution to collect it at a later date (within reason).
The Temporary Art Repair Shop tries out a different economic model for public art. Tobias work is free to the public handing in broken objects, but it is payed for by the hosting art institution. The art institution gets public funding payed for by the general public, who can, if they choose to, take part in the game proposed and so become the private owners of sculptures. The only price they pay is their time and commitment. The art institution gets an audience, which is one of the requirements for being allocated public funding, which pays for the project. What does this mean for the value of the sculptures? Are they worth nothing, because they were given for free, or will they one day be worth a lot of money, because only those few lucky enough to be there when the project happened, and interested enough to take part, walked away with their own sculpture?
To find out you just need to come by and try it for yourself. The next occurence of the Temporary Art Work Shop will be at PS2 in Belfast, 18 Donegall Street, between the 28th of May and the 23rd of June 2012.