Temporary Services

Temporary Services work on the conditions and possibilities of artistic activity as a collective. The group call this an ‘aesthetic analysis of human groupings’ and once presented it in a wall-sized installation. Images of groups from very different contexts come together here and appear in a diverse range of manifestations: faith-based communities next to military gatherings, school children next to anonymous crowds, some as T-shirts, others as record covers, wallpaper with group ornaments or simple denominations. The assemblage is consciously random, but also appropriately schematic in that it refuses clear attributions in the same way in which real activity, too, is never contained within one realm of effects alone. Togetherness is a fundamental starting point here, no matter how it is constituted. It provides the collective’s own ethical perspective, too.

Most of the groupings coalesce in and around forms of work, and the accompanying booklet compiles statements by firemen as well as musicians, artists and members of various communes commenting on the dynamics of group work. Focusing on its problems and possibilities from wildly different perspectives, these statements do not constitute a rounded picture; instead they open a complicated and promising horizon of possibility.

Group cohesion is never simply self-determined. It is always generated in reaction to external views that project unity, as much as it also produces a distinction from the outside, which in turn requires the pragmatics of a common enterprise. Art too operates in this context as necessarily determined by both self-definition and external framing; this ambiguity ultimately indicates its effective potential. With Public Sculpture Opinion Poll, Temporary Services investigate such expectations based on the example of the public’s response to an abstract sculpture in the public realm. Without further comment, the group compile gathered responses from ‘cool’ and ‘only for white people’ to ‘very big’ and ‘wrong’.

In their new work for Populism, the group uses a similar strategy by compiling clichéd figures of the artist from television and cinema. Stereotypes from ‘con-artist’ to sex fiend replace any realistic professional account (or indeed the possibility of an intelligent engagement with art), with media friendly character masks, providing a broad overview of the expectations generically projected onto artists and their production. Through the seeming indifference with which Temporary Services present these different role-models here, the entire construction of the artist in the media is revealed as a phantasmagorical one against which the group itself profiles its own activist function as a provider of ‘temporary services’.

By Edgar Schmitz