Who are our Manifesta 11 art detectives?

Die Kunstdetektive Alessio Meier und Stella Müller am Workshop an der LIPSCHULE Zürich, 14. März 2016 © Manifesta 11

What happens when artists team up with professionals? That’s what Manifesta 11 curator Christian Jankowski wanted his “art detectives” to find out. The high-school students were asked to interview artists and professionals in various settings between the worlds of art and work. Their meetings were recorded by film students of the Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK).
Alessio Meier was one of these students who worked as art detectives in the spring of 2016 and who also took part in a workshop designed for them. What does a teenager take away from a project like that? Alessio is a quiet young man who holds back with his impressions. But our discussion reveals that he has clearly learned to reflect his own thoughts. He carefully scans my questions as though he were following the panning of a camera. Alessio, what did you like most about the workshops? “I thought it was great that we were given an assignment that we were able to complete on our own.” He adds: “At first you think that it’s enough to be spontaneous when you want to interview an artist, but in the workshops I learned how important it is to enunciate and watch your body language.” It is striking how Alessio fine-tunes his answers until he has made his point – and when he has, I suddenly find myself under observation. I can see that this boy sitting in front of me has learned something.
And what experiences have you made with contemporary art, Alessio? He positively beams when he answers: “It’s so weird and cool – there are things I would have never imagined. I’ve always thought of art as pictures of landscapes and naked women instead of artists working with video. I think it’s impressive how many things artists do that other people can’t do.” And once again there are these big camera eyes that evidently scanned and stored all the cool things that are happening in the art world. It’s nice to witness the impact of workshops in the context of an interview.

Heiko Schmid, Manifesta 11 education coordinator