In my artistic practise I work in all kinds of media - drawing, installation, sculpture, printmaking, photo or video. Social issues and political conflicts together with the very exhibition site, its history, its social function and the question how I can relate and connect myself to it, constitute the frame and context of my projects
Since the late 1990s I have carried out site-related interventions in empty buildings. Some of them have been cuttings directly into the floorings of the building. Large-scale lino- and woodcuts arose that subsequently, after carving, got printed.
Abandoned buildings represent a fantastic potential for all kinds of artistic interventions. From the very beginning of my art practise I made use of them. They might be a manifestation of a political problem - like gentrification etc… - but they helped me to start off my projects without waiting for an invitation by art institutions.
I organized my first projects on my own - and I was attracted by empty houses - their ghostly presence and aesthetics of decay, but also their loaded and intriguing history.
This attraction is lasting up to now and I will further try to carry out projects in derelict houses, due to get demolished.
Since 2008 I develop the ongoing project “A Lighthouse for Lampedusa!”
Its starting point was an invitation to a solo exhibition in Italy - at the time when Berlusconi was Prime Minister and up to 30 thousand migrants arrived every year at the shores of the small island of Lampedusa. The European politics does not establish legal ways to Europe for refugees or migrants from war zones. Therefore they are forced to come unregistered often with help of traffickers on unseaworthy boats. Many people die. This project tries to undermine any inhumane politics to construct sort of a “Fortress Europe” and to change its direction to develop an open-minded and progressive European consciousness.
An important part of my reflections is dedicated to the question how political and social conflicts can be reflected with aesthetics. Can our most virulent problems get addressed with artistic means? Can art develop any relevant suggestions not only for the “beauty” but social contradictions and conflicts? These are some issues I work with in my art practise.
In my teaching I encourage my students to develop their own projects and experimental initiatives. To my experience this is the best foundation for any knowledge transfer, interaction and attendance. I consider myself more a backup and critical companion rather someone who tells what to do. The students invent themselves and I try to coach them in this process.
I do individual and group tutorials on a regular base - with the single tutorials I try to build up an understanding of the work process and the challenges of each individual student, whereas the group meetings are important to learn to present and talk about the own work in front of a bigger audience.
Web-site informations about Thomas Kilpper:
Thomas Kilpper is Professor of Printmaking at the Art Academy - Department of Contemporary Art.