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24. November 2014

What’s the deal at Schmiede14? An artistic journey from confusion to creative fusion by Theresa Reiter

by Rüdiger    Filed under: Creative Lab,Design,Events,Hallein,StatementsComments Off on What’s the deal at Schmiede14? An artistic journey from confusion to creative fusion by Theresa Reiter

Imagine a gigantic studio for all types of artists and performers, where equipment is always available and you are free to collaborate on any project you have in mind. Artistic heaven? No, it’s a reality. It’s called Schmiede.

It all started when „What’s The Deal?“ invited me to participate at Schmiede as a fashion designer. All I knew about Schmiede at that time, was that it is an annual event, bringing together about 300 artists and designers that focus on digital media and urban culture. These „Smiths“ get together for ten days in Hallein near Salzburg and set up their workspace in an old saline to network, experiment, collaborate and make art.

Knowing little more than that I made my way to Hallein and the Perner Insel, where the saline is located. The building complex itself consists of several factory segments added over time, creating a unique mixture of old industrial charm and spacious halls.

I was told there were three other fashion related artists, so I made it my first goal to find them. Not the easiest task, considering the size of the location. The space at Schmiede is set up on a first-come-first-serve basis. Wherever people found a free space or corner, they set up their creative camp.

After having found my colleagues for the week we set up our temporary sewing studio and invited every one interested in working with textiles, sewing and upcycling materials to work with us. Since sustainability is one of the key topics of „What’s The Deal?“, we decided to adopt that idea into our work and focus on different ways to incorporate upcycled materials into our projects.

At that point Schmiede had formed into a giant studio with little groups of Smiths working in similar fields, some having set up in a certain area, some wandering around.

While helping out several others with their projects who weren’t quite as familiar with a sewing machine, I started my own project, which was to interview different people with different professions and create custom backpacks for them, specially equipped for their needs. A dancer for example requires different features in his luggage than a skateboarder or a programmer.

It was then that I started to interact with and get to know the people around me and was immediately involved in several projects. These were realized over the next days and varied from costumes for performances over textile sculptures to a three-dimensional screen used for an interactive digital performance.

These days of getting to know each other, planning and making projects, regardless of whether they lie within ones field of expertise, felt like the most energetic time at Schmiede. It was then that the kitchen area and the bar turned into networking hubs where Smiths could approach each other and develop interdisciplinary creative concepts, that could never have taken place in the „real world“ as we began to call it, since Schmiede was more and more turning into its own world with its own dynamics and feel for time.

On September 20th, the last evening of Schmiede, the results of this creative fusion were shown and presented to the public. The range of artworks was nearly as divers as the range of Smiths. Interactive digital projections mixed with performance art and traditional craftsmanship.

Our textiles area presented different approaches on upcycling, including my backpack project. Having completed only one backpack in the end, I did not come as far as I had wished to, although the project has great potential and can be further developed after Schmiede. To me, the real success of these ten days were the projects that formed and came to life during Schmiede, as well as the social aspect of it.

I left Hallein having found new friends, new inspiration and a head full of ideas.

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