Various Artists

Various Artists

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The collective photographic works by Johannes Korstjens (VA.JKO) and Freddy Grant (VA.WAR), both members of Various Artists, have one thing in common, they were made without the use of a camera, or the camera was seen as a non essential tool.

JKO and WAR usually score their material with the help of Zooeydottir (VA.ZOO) directly from the internet or via webcams, and then edit them manually. They see the internet as a metaphor for a new nature/landscape where wanderings result in the collection of material to be processed later in the studio. Together with Marcella.B (VA.MAB) they question originality/authorship in a time where everything is connected and everyone is presented with images in the same way. Original photos are thus diluted to 1% or much less and become a ghost image that cannot be restored to its original state. What were once unique ideas have today become universal knowledge eroding the concept of ownership. As in the world of music, where the sampling of existing material undermined the idea of copyright, the oversupply of images on the Internet and social media facilitates the vulgarisation of originality.

Django Jane
More than 2500 images available on the internet, portraying composers from the Middle Ages to the present day were sampled into one single portrait. The final image uncovers some underlying facts from the world of “classical “ composing. Although musicians were around since the beginning of humankind, this classical culture is still served as a mainly male and white community denying us the diversity that is apparent in more “popular” culture.
Universal Artist
The project ‘Universal Artist’ composites a hundred photos of artists (1% each) scored from the internet. Each portrait is balanced according to gender, age, and region. This could be a reference image to the origin of human, the origin of the artist.

About 20 years ago, Trudo Engels created Various Artists, a collective consisting of 24 fictional artists. The composition of the collective is very diverse, in terms of skills, gender, age and geographical origin. Over the years, the group has developed into a collection of fully-fledged artists who regularly exhibit, publish and set up various public projects together.

This specific practice can be seen as a long-term artistic project that presents itself as an autonomous collective, each member of which contributes its own research topics and specific practices to the Gesamtkunstwerk. This fragmented way of working allows the artists to bring together many topics, interests and disciplines into a common artistic practice. It enables the artists, through the use of different presentation forms or personalisations in combination with group exhibitions, to offer an alternative to the usual concept of “the artist” as a specialist or brand. Through the realisation of different works and projects, the artists explore and experiment with new forms of authorship and questions “the artist” as a unique creative model.

From this ‘practice-based’ research into the individuality and status of the artist emerged the idea of seeing Various Artists as an institution that adheres to a number of laws that do not necessarily apply to the individual artist. They have never believed in an immaculate conception of artistic ideas and have therefore adapted the collective to Brian Eno’s Scenist theory, in which artistic ideas are created through the ability to read ones surroundings, including fellow artists, and to allow oneself to be influenced by them.

For the next five years Various Artists will run their own gallery space with the programme “Ontology 21-25 Deauthorise!”. It will present a multitude of projects related to “being an artist” and mainly includes collaborations. This curatorial project will accompany future works by Various Artists who consider collaborative practices an essential part of their artistic DNA.

The choice to work under one of the most generic headings in the art world has far-reaching consequences for the collective that wants to profile itself as an institute/organisation. Reversing the public and professional perception towards “Various Artists” is an almost impossible task. On top of that, elevating “jumping from one branch to another” to art means, for them, constantly going back to Start in the hope that one day the metaphorical tree will become visible. This perpetual recommencement - along with the negation of the individual - aims to keep asking questions about the role artists can play in a seemingly finite world.

Some examples of recent projects:

Artists Wanted: The collective becomes the assistant of an art student for a school year (one day a week).

Kompetron, 2021: a participation in 42 art prizes with the work Kompetron.

Lord Art Prize, 2021: a self-made art prize where only a certificate can be won.

Erosifs, 2020: a project about cultural erosion similar to bleaching coral reef.

Supreme Karaoke, 2021: a video installation on the subject of white supremacy.



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