In times when the ‘economic’ seems to rule, artistic research is particularly suited to examine its possible flip sides, such as ornament. At the WOF, the World Ornamental Forum, a group of 22 artists, entrepreneurs, and researchers from disciplines ranging from architecture to organization studies, art research to history, or curating to philosophy, explored the potentials of a contemporary use of the ornamental as gesture. The parallel COMING-WOF first allowed for the virtual participation of those who could not be present in Davos and now, more importantly, allows appropriating other existing research structures and turning them into WOF research sites.
WOF’s character constantly emerges from its critical but also self-deprecating take on the WEF, the World Economic Forum, in Davos. Our contention is that art has not lost its capacity to make us wonder. What if art’s critical potential did not start with critical intention but with empty space? Could ornament, interpreted as fugue, as ‘line of flight’, be in fact the rhizomatic ‘flow’ Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari evidence in their Thousand Plateaus (Mille plateaux, 1980), never stable and rocketing our imagination high through the ‘milieu’?
The aim of the WOF is to regain a contemporary use of the ornamental as gesture and to practically explore and evidence the immeasurable value of such unproductive activity particularly with regard to contemporary concepts of work.
WOF enacted the gestures of unproductive activity, which is not inactivity, by building the model of one’s own present situation. A series of objects and texts emerged from this paradoxical spatial experiment. Joshua Simon, Peg Rawes and Aoife Mac Namara made a users’ manual for the WOF by noting present activities. Christoph Zellweger put a cardboard circle into the snow injecting expandable construction foam underneath, thus creating an unpredictable object to be read like tea leaves. All the models evidenced immeasurable value through the discussions that followed as well as the on-going commitment by the participants. Our own research environment as the experimental set-up for the practical exploration of work made the fusion of outer research necessities with the researchers’ practical ethos possible.
WOF is ideally and administratively connected to the Competence Centre of Arts Materials Research at the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts’ School of Art & Design (Ronny Hardliz) and also supported by the Creative Living Lab of the university enabling the collaborations with the School of Business (Jens Meissner) and the School of Engineering and Architecture (Lars C. Schuchert).