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Space Between :: the project

The Space Between project was a collaborative project between Janet DeBoos, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia; Antje Scharfe, Burg Giebichenstein, Halle, Germany; Suzanne Wolfe, University of Hawai'i, Honolulu, USA; and Georgette Zirbes, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA; and their students. The theme of the project was to respond to the concept of the space between, whether it be our physical, virtual or conceptual space. The project ran for twelve months and ended in December 2002 with an exhibition of the work in Halle, Germany. A catalogue was published in Germany by Antje Scharfe for the Burg Giebichenstein College of Art and Design and here, on Avicam.

It all started with a discussion between four ceramic artists, in four different universities, in four different parts of the world, about the ways in which there could be collaborations/connections between themselves and their students ..... they came up with space between.

The four collaborators were Janet DeBoos, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia; Antje Scharfe, Burg Giebichenstein, Halle, Germany; Suzanne Wolfe, University of Hawai'i, Honolulu, USA; and Georgette Zirbes, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA ... and we were their students.

Being Heads of Workshop in ceramic departments from around the globe it seemed reasonable that the beginning point of the project would be in clay. A very real material in a very real world. As the project progressed so too did the idea of having an exhibition at the completion of the project. Ideally, we mused, this would be a travelling exhibition with artworks from each of the universities. Later, the internet became a focus as a vehicle for the project. Not only as a way of communicating between collaborators - but as part of the project itself. This, naturally and progressively, led to the idea of having a virtual exhibition. Canberra students led in the development of the website and we had very big plans.

For some of us the virtual space of the internet became representational of the space between project. The place where all participants could come together, at any time, to discuss, critique or exhibit work. We had wiped from our thoughts the existence of geographical boundaries. Our aim was to create a cyberspace between the four universities.

The forum was where collaborators could voice their ideas and stimulate discussions, possibly forging individual collaborations if working on similar themes. The chat room offered a place to come together, simultaneously, and participate in discussion groups. The webcam would bring us together - face to face and our plans included live critique sessions of works-in-progress. Ultimately, the webcam would become instrumental in broadcasting a virtual exhibition.

Use of the internet to bridge geographical distances had interesting outcomes. Early on in the project it became increasingly clear that students and lecturers did not utilise the facilities as a means of communicating nor was the website being used as we had envisaged. The focus of the makers remained the making.... and in this instance the making was in clay, in real materials, in the real world. Apart from the initial interest in the forum very few students from any of the universities became involved in the the creation of a cyberspace.

What did become evident was time and language were as much a boundary as geography. Although we had assumed the internet would overcome any geographical boundaries we had not considered the restraints time and language would impose upon the project. The realness of the hemispheres was difficult to transcend. When it was day here it was night there. When it was summer here snow was falling there. The middle of our university semester saw others enjoying summer holidays. Some spoke English, some did not. Some spoke German, others could not.

The space between project did have a completion and Burg Giebichenstein, Halle, Germany had a very grand exhibition opening and produced a printed catalogue featuring work from all four universities. The project and the catalogue is profiled here on Avicam.

Avi Amesbury
2003

view the: Catalogue