How does a naïve audience view art? asked visual artist Nicolas Clauss during his residency at L'atelier Multimedia de L'espal, France. To find out, he worked with a group of adolescents from a working class neighbourhood for several months, first surrounding them with 20th century works of art and then inviting them to express their responses creatively. The adolescents chose 9 artworks, and with the assistance of Clauss, used photography, video, sound and digital technologies to create their own art-inspired works of art. The result--'Art If I Want'--can be viewed online as a dark but playful world of morphing images and audio, and there will be an offline exhibition in May 2005. By opening a door through which the adolescents could enter and put themselves into the picture, Clauss has initiated a dialogue of demystification between art and a new audience. Rather than answering the original question, the project and its title demonstrate a freedom of approach and empowering agency.
Helen Varley Jamieson