Michael Kutschbach is a visual artist who defies categorisation. He creates across a variety of media, including film. It is this latter which he will be using in his newest work, the inaugural Guildhouse Collections Project with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, in partnership with the the City of Adelaide and Adelaide Festival Centre.
In between preparing for this exciting project, teaching at UniSA and his busy studio practice, Kutschbach managed to find time to sit down with Glam for a coffee and a chat.
He is surprisingly candid about the fact that, despite many years in the field, he didn’t set out to become a visual artist.
“I don’t think it was ever a decision of mine. I was lucky to have a couple of high school teachers early on that actually suggested the possibility of a career in the visual arts”. His career has blossomed, he thinks, “Not because I’ve got any dogged belief that I’m any good or can make interesting work, but the surrounding conditions keep allowing me to make work!”
As he speaks, it is clear that this is no false modesty, but rather the same realistic and open attitude that he brings to his considerable body of work.
“Within my practice there is a diversity in what I do which reflects that interest in learning different techniques or disciplines. Even though I trained as a painter, my interests now are equally in photography, video, installation, sculpture, public art, and teaching which is a part of practice too. It allows me to be open and approach new ideas and new techniques.”
His up-coming ASO collaboration offers another opportunity for exploration, and he is as excited about the process as he is about the final product, which he is yet to determine.
“This project I think has been in development between Guildhouse and the ASO for some years, but I only heard of it a few months ago. I look out for calls for different projects and rarely do they jump out at me like this one. I’m being given access to a space like the ASO which can be thought of as a living archive. I still don’t know what means! There was just a strong sense that this could produce something really interesting. And that’s at the heart of my interest in art making: not predetermining any outcome.”
One thing Kutschbach does know is that the final product will involve video which is his current artistic passion.
“The physical outcome will be a video work, but the imagery, material and makeup of that is still unknown. My interests are very much in process. I guess I have an idea about how I’d like to approach this project and it’s around the idea of the orchestra as a living ecosystem: as an entity of individuals from the musicians up to management. Exploring how those individuals, materials, instruments, architecture, and personalities, co-exist.”
He is quick to reassure that this is about creating art, not about making a documentary.
“I’m not going in there to document what’s going on. I’m really interested in making an analog to that process of me observing what goes on. I’ll be setting up dynamics to produce an outcome, in the same way that the ASO has its own dynamics.”
Having lived and worked in Berlin for many years, and also completing a Masters in London, Kutschbach is well placed to make a comparison between the art scene in Adelaide, and that in Europe.
“The quality here is fantastic. One thing I love about the Adelaide art scene is that you know what’s going on pretty much everywhere. It a good size where you feel you can be on top of it. Whereas in a city like Berlin it’s impossible to know what’s going on, so you end up finding niches.”
As well as pre-production for the ASO work Kutschbach has just finished a stunning public art commission for the City of Marion, and continues his teaching and studio practice.”
Despite never planning to be an artist, his enthusiasm for the work lights up his face.
“I love what I do. It’s an incredible privilege to be able to continue working in the arts.”
Michael Kutschbach’s ASO work will be premiered around Adelaide Festival time in 2021, and will include a projection onto the Adelaide Festival Centre.
Click here to read more about Michael Kutschbach
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