Johanna Viprey “Die Young or Stay Pretty” at the Swiss Institute, Milan
Johanna Viprey (Besançon, France, 1979) is the first of a series of “artist laureates” who will be invited to create projects, on an annual basis, in the spaces of the Swiss Institute in Milan.
The Artist Laureate cycle seeks alternative models in the education system through dialogue between agents — art academies and institutes — in Switzerland and Milan. The cycle presents the work of artists who have just taken a Masters degree in the Visual Arts, and investigates the positions of professionals in the field of education and contemporary art during the course of a series of encounters, workshops, seminars and events.
The program triggers analysis of the training of artists, considering the fact that since the avant-gardes of the 20th century the academic environment has been considered incapable of producing innovation.
Die Young or Stay Pretty is a research project in progress developed by Viprey with the Swiss Institute for a program of four encounters held from March to May 2014. The project approaches certain specific themes, such as the question of the self-taught artist, in relation to the system of contemporary art schools; the artist as curator; archival research and the sharing of a body of information activated through its spread.
Over the last two years Viprey has worked on the archives of the American performer painter and documentary filmmaker Jeff Perkins. In her work, performances and installations Viprey does not simply describe his original collection: she narrates an encounter that has led her to investigate the personal history of an artist and his figure from an anthropological perspective.
For twenty years Perkins worked as a taxi driver in New York. From 1990 to 2000 he recorded his conversations with the passengers, after asking them for permission to do so. Perkins was a “professional outsider”, as Viprey defines him, a self-taught talent who for many years frequented artists like Yoko Ono, Sam Francis and Guy de Cointet, but who never found space for himself and his artistic practice in that same scene.
If his work was born outside the contemporary art system, how can this material be inserted in that very circuit? Why would an artist decide to present the work of another artist and to rediscover his archive?
Die Young or Stay Pretty launches a research project through four public, shared encounters in the Swiss Institute in Milan, to answer these and other questions about the role of the artist, starting with their formation.
Taking its cue from the Cave of Forgotten Dreams by Werner Herzog, Viprey’s program approaches the themes of conservation and mutation that “should coexist to conserve a knowledge and keep it alive, but also to allow it to transform in contact with the passage of time.”
Conceived as part of an ongoing process of research immediately shared with the audience, the events and performances in Milan from March to May 2014 represent the stimulus for discussion of the modes of transmission of knowledge and of a complex of information, and of the themes of education. They also constitute the place for experience and diffusion of an archive, composed of sounds and effects.
Encounter #3 and #4 – 22 May 2014
Above – Johanna Viprey, Bear Dream (with Rabbit), 2014
Johanna Viprey, However, 2014
Encounter #2 – Open studio with Jeff Perkins and Johanna Viprey, Swiss Institute of Rome – Milan branch, April 1 2014
Encounter #2 – The artist as a taxi driver: Jeff Perkins’s lecture with Johanna Viprey and the students of the Visual Arts and Curatorial Studies Department at NABA, Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti, Milan, April 2 2014.
Photo: Emanuele Biondi.