Marilyn Volkman (USA, lives and works in Vienna)
Volkman is an American artist-curator with a background in both performance and administration. Her graduation work, EVERYTHING IS VALUES, depicts and restages the complex interactions between people during the Challenging Jewellery master’s degree. Drawing on methodologies taken from anthropology, auto-fiction and institutional archiving, the work is at once a novel, a film, and a physical object interrogating how communal ideals, failure, taste, money, and scale interact in the collective search for inspiration and purpose.
Volkman spent the last two years in the role of participant-observer, openly tracking and scripting developments between and within course collaborators into a thesis novel. She then adapted the manuscript into a serialized video that explores dynamics of institutionalized teaching and experimental pedagogy in scenes derived from the program. Born from a collaboration between the film’s characters and the physicist Dr. Kimberly Modic, the Class Ring engraves ninety-four pages of Volkman’s thesis novel at nano-size onto a silicon wafer set in stainless steel. Dr. Modic, a specialist in quantum materials, collaborated with the project at the Institute of Science and Technology in Austria, where she used a focused-ion beam (FIB) to craft the narrative-based element of the class ring.
In the wake of the master’s program, the work – presented as a video installation – serves as an archive and fictionalized history for participants while posing a series of questions: How open can an open education be? Are we responsible for publishing our failures alongside our successes? Is sharing overlapping fictions a path toward realizing a future? What is at stake in a master’s? By streamlining this experiment into a genuine artistic method, Volkman’s work doubles as an interrogation and critique of anthropological and pedagogical methodologies, and emphasizes the potential of artistic responses to administrative processes.
Special thanks and contributions: Dr. Kimberly Modic, Dr. Scott Waitukaitis, Todor Asenov, Laura Mott, Dora Des, Benjamin Lignel, Silke Xenia Juul, Eva van Kempen, Steven Cottingham, Jeppe Ugelvig, Institute of Science and Technology Austria, MAsieraad, Beam Systems, Sandberg instituut, Challenging Jewellery, and BLESS.
The Class Ring is readable through appointment with the project and a scanning-electron microscope (SEM) in a scientific lab.
Contact EVERYTHING IS VALUES to inquire about viewings and screenings.