On Hospitality and Studio Practice by Lucie Fontaine

At first sight, the notions of ‘hospitality’ and ‘studio practice’ seem to be in opposition to each other. On one hand we learn about hospitality as the art of gathering people, making them feeling special and unique, feeding them with food and thoughts. Hospitality defines the relationship between the host and guest, who can arrive unexpectedly, unannounced and when this circumstance occurs, the real host is never caught unprepared. On the other hand we know that artists must practice their art in the studio alone, in solitude; the space of the studio is the space of the individual, a cell in which a thinking-individual (the artist) can articulate dreams and transform them into form.

If we follow this trail we will conclude that hospitality and studio practice don’t go hand in hand but they are rather enemies, antagonist to each other. The hospitable artist cannot completely commit to studio practice and the committed artist cannot entirely be open to a surprising visitor. But as a matter of fact this trail cannot be followed anymore or rather it cannot be the exclusive choice.

In a time in which things are the same and not the same, in which a versus b has become a equals b and equals a again and equals c (!), in which reality is porous and fluid, this opposition is no longer a prerogative. Artists no longer have to decide whether they have to be open or focused on their own researches, inclusive or reluctant to the communality dominating our time. We live in a time in which we should not force ourselves to play with both hands but at least we should be ready to do so.

This paradox already existed in the dawn of visual art, as we understand it today; in the Renaissance, when artists emancipated themselves moving from the position of mere artisans to the stature of individuals, ‘names’, signature-artists, one would assume that the passage from the idea of ‘workshop’ – working in collectivity making things anonymously – to that of ‘studio’ would mean moving from working together to working alone. Quite the opposite while capitalizing more and more on the notion of signature, creativity, authorship and labor, artists in the Renaissance transformed the studio into a gathering place, a place in which apprentices, colleagues, patrons, merchants, muses, children, mistresses and models would meet and mingle.

Rather than using the dichotomy of ‘collectivity versus individuality’ I would speak of signatures that are ‘multiple singularities’ or ‘singular multiplicities.’ When approached through this paradoxical, double-edge-sword-like point of view, we understand that hospitality and studio practice can be two sides of the same coin and even when you decide to consider only one side of the coin – the other one being reversed and impossible to be seen – you must keep in mind that the other side is there and you must be aware of it, whether you decide to consider it or not. Rather than flipping the coin on one side or the other, I would make it rotate so that you will perceive the two sides, or none of them, at the same time.

With this image in your mind, this endlessly rotating coin, I welcome you to Berlin Open Studio!