Die Young or Stay Pretty is a research project in progress developed by Geneva-based artist Johanna Viprey with the Swiss Institute, for a program of four encounters held in Milan 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.
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 Master degree in the Visual Arts in Switzerland 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.
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, she narrates an encounter that has led her to investigate the personal history of an artist and his figure from an anthropological perspective. 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.
From March to April 2014, ISR Milan hosted Encounter #1: Bear Dream (with Rabbit): a performance by Johanna Viprey accompanied by the presentation of the installation However (2013) and the screening of the film Cave of Forgotten Dreams (2010) by Werner Herzog.
On April 1, Encounter #2 presented an open studio with Jeff Perkins and Johanna Viprey at ISR, followed by The artist as a taxi driver, a lecture by Jeff Perkins with Johanna Viprey and the students of the Department of Visual Arts and Curatorial Studies at NABA.
Encounter #3 consists of a Round table on the theme of education and formation of the contemporary artist hosted by NABA – Department of Visual Arts.
The list of panelists so far include Salvatore Lacagnina (Head of Arts Program, the Swiss Institute); Sophie Lapalu (Ecole Nationale Superieure d’arts Paris-Cergy); Chuz Martinez (curator and Head of the Institute of Art at the FHNW Academy of Art and Design in Basel), Lili Reynaud-Dewar (artist and co-Director of work.master HEAD, Paris/Geneva); Marco Scotini (Head of Visual Arts Department, NABA).
MAY 22 – 8pm Swiss Institute
Encounter #4: Professional Outsiders
Book launch Lʼartiste en chauffeur de taxi (Nero publishing)
BLANC alligators (Jean Wave + Johanna Viprey) live concert (+ Jean Wave mix)
The concert is based on some of the recordings of the conversations made by Jeff Perkins in his taxi, and is introduced by a performance with a text by Johanna Viprey.
The book Lʼartiste en chauffeur de taxi is the result of a theoretical research conducted by a non-theorist artist on a professional outsider artist.
The book presentation takes place during a one-night event that includes a live concert performed by non-professional musicians.
Encounter #4 presents two opposite methods and deals with the condition of being “professional outsiders” from two different positions, while investigating their respective limits and borders