1)home? 2)treasure? 3)fame? 4)engine? 5)wisdom? 6)heroes? 7)time journey? 8)sacrifice? 9)vice? 10)cats/dogs?. The answers to these 10 questions plus one shot of their studio is all that the artists featured on www.tenwordsandoneshot.com had to contribute and yet Kevin Krumnikls ambitious project is quite astounding both visually and content wise. Despite their minimalistic form the interviews offer a deep first impression of the presented artists and the photos of their working spaces present another very intimate insight into the artists’ worlds. But tenwordsandoneshot is much more than just a website. It is also a book project, an art trading platform and a series of exhibitions. Curbs&Stoops talked to Krumnikl about his brainchild, his love for art and what lengths he has to go to in order to keep the project running.
C&S: Sometimes it happens to me that when I read an interview with an artist I end up being somewhat disappointed, because the answers did not fit the image of that person that I had created for myself. What made you want to keep the concept of tenwordsandoneshot so minimalistic?
KK: I’d say it was mainly pragmatical reasons. The internet is a fast moving space and sometimes the life expectancy of certain internet phenomena can be quite short as well. When I was creating the concept of tenwordsandoneshot I was mainly considering my own habits when I surf the web. I personally don’t like reading long texts online and that is why all I need is 10 words for questions. They will help you to get a basic idea of the artists I present and if you then become interested in them and their work you can still check out their websites or you can even get in touch with them. I think a single word question also allows the artists to answer much more freely because everybody for example has a different understanding of the concept of fame and associates different ideas with it.
C&S: What surprised me was that the answers are oftentimes fairly short as well.
KK: I guess some of the questions like “Cats/Dogs” don’t really leave many options for extensive answers. People will usually answer something like: “I have a cat and her name is such and such.” But other questions have indeed been answered quite extensively by some of the artists. I don’t really know what makes people want to answer the way that they do. But it is great to see that different artists have different styles of answering. I have been asked once what my answers to my own questions would be and I seriously had no answer to that. I think it really depends on what phase of your life you find yourself in at the moment. If I had to answer the questions I think the answers to some of the them would vary quite dramatically from one day to the next. Quite a few artists answered the question “Heroes” by saying: “This week it is X. Next week it might be Y”.
C&S: How much time do you allow the artists to answer the questions? Do they have to do it quite spontaneously or do they have time to ponder over their answers?
KK: They have as much time as they need. Usually I just send out the invitations with an explanatory text of the tenwordsandoneshot concept and then see what happens. Just the other day I got the answers from an artists that I had asked to join the project two years ago. Some answer the very next day, some need a little longer than that.
C&S: How do you find and select the artists that you want to feature on tenwordsandoneshot?
KK: In the beginning I was mainly featuring the people that I had come in contact with personally through my own art collection. I also surf the net a lot and by now the pool of participants has grown so much that I get a lot of recommendations that I look into and then simply invite the ones that I like. Also people have started to apply for the project which I find very pleasant because it means less work for me (laughs).
C&S: Would you say that your project is a springboard for up and coming artists?
KK: To me it really doesn’t matter if the artists that I feature are well known or not at all known. All I care about is the quality of their works. Of course I am also checking out the artists’ CVs but that is something that is not really that important to me. Sometimes I am trying to invite well known artists in order to have something of a crowd puller on the website, but these people can sometimes be quite difficult to convince. Now that the project is gaining more and more recognition it has become a little easier, but that still doesn’t change the way I feel about the selection of the featured artists.
C&S: You mentioned before that when you surf the web you are looking for readily accessible and compact info. If that is how you go about your intake of information, why do you still feel that it makes sense to publish the featured tenwordsandoneshot artists in book form?
KK: Because I was born in ’78 and I have grown up without the internet. To me books have a soul but the internet does not. With a book you spend time, on the internet you waste time. The idea to publish the book only started to grow after the blog had been online for some time. And then the idea of having an actual exhibition that would once more unite the artists that have been featured on the website and in the book sprung from those two previous steps. That is how the cycle works. The internet makes it quite easy to get in touch with artists and I use the book as a swap medium that allows me to generate an art collection that I can exhibit. To travel, to meet the artists in person and to see the artworks and the studios is the best part about the whole project for me. My utopian goal is to meet every single featured artists in person. So far 297 artists have answered the ten questions and I have canceled my home loan savings contract in order to be able to pay for the publication of the books. Every book features 100 artists and very soon now the production of the third book needs to be paid for. To save money I bought enough material for five publications so I am pretty much forced to publish at least five books. I am now the proud owner of tons of paper that are just waiting in the storage facility of the printers for the next edition of the project. I also own many square meters of white linen and a few kilometers of bookbinding thread. The people at the printers always laugh at me because nobody ever wanted to have an edition of just 100 copies printed. I want to raise the number of copies printed by 100 per edition so that in the end the money I make selling the books would be enough to secure the print of the next issue.
C&S: One part of the tenwordsandoneshot concept is that the artists that you present in your publication trade one piece of art for a copy of the book. How is this working out for you and how do the artists go about deciding what pieces to give to you?
KK: The artists just give me whatever they feel would be something appropriate to swap for the book. Sometimes the artists offer a selection of pieces to choose from to me but I’d rather not even make that choice and just take what they think would be best to give to me. Some of course also say: “This guy must be nuts. My pieces cost several thousand euros and all I get is this book? Forget about it!” I can live with that and I understand why they think that way. Especially with the first edition of the book it was quite difficult to convince artists to swap with me because nobody really knew what to expect. Nobody had seen a copy of the book yet or knew what the quality would be like. Now with the second issue the swap part has become a lot easier. But it is still up to the individual artists of course to decide how to handle this part. The artworks I have gotten so far cover a wide range of forms and formats.
Some artists also produced pieces especially for the book swap which I think is really dope.
C&S: How can people get their hands on a copy of your book?
KK: The first issue was quite exclusive. I swapped 70 of the 100 copies I had printed with artists and the rest I sold privately. Now for the second issue I have 100 copies that I can trade and 100 copies that will be up for sale. We will present the project on different blogs and websites and people can get in touch with me if they want to purchase a copy. Another idea that I have is to contact the galleries that represent that artists that I feature on the website and have them buy some copies to give to their customers as goodies. That way they would get a nice present and at the same time have the chance to find out about another 99 artists.
C&S: Do you see yourself as a curator?
KK: It is true that I select the artists that I want to feature on the website and in the book and I have also been thinking about how to go about the actual exhibition, how to arrange the pieces and how to best present them to an actual audience. But really I just see myself as a guy who just has a lot of fun with art.
C&S: Thank you very much for the interview.
If you are interested in applying for the project go to www.tenwordsandoneshot.com
All applications are welcome.