Berlin-based Austrian artist Uli Aigner presents her lifelong art project “One Million” at the Neues Museum on Berlin’s Museum Island.
Image above: Uli Aigner, Digital world map, © Uli Aigner
As part of the “One Million” project, Uli Aigner set herself the task in 2014 of turning 1,000,000 white porcelain dinner vessels with her own hands for the rest of her life. All the vessels are created in independent, successive projects. Each object will be engraved with a number in the analogue order in which it was made. In addition, an interactive data set will be created on the web that will record the shape and location of each vessel on a digital world map: www.eine-million.com
In the Neues Museum, Aigner’s works are present at five stations as interventions using various media such as film, installation and sculpture and enter into an impressive dialogue with vessels from the collection of the Museum of Prehistory and Early History. Uli Aigner thus builds a bridge between modern applied art and the design from the Stone Age, Bronze Age and Iron Age and allows visitors to participate in a completely new view of prehistoric vessel ceramics.
Uli Aigner‘s aesthetic concept is based on direct interaction with people. Thus, the artist invites ten visitors on site to wish for a vessel according to their own ideas. In several communication sessions, the artist and the visitor work out the form and content of the vessel together, which Uli Aigner then makes individually on her wheel. The entire process from the initial contact to the completion of the vessel is documented on film. The starting point for these three- to six-minute short films are all the materials created through communication with the counterpart. The resulting object information is digitally accessible and can be called up on site using QR codes. They were burned into the glaze of the respective porcelain by means of individual cobalt screen prints. With the presentation – on a long, narrow table in the transition from the Stone Age to the Bronze Age room – of the ten porcelain vessels in different shapes and sizes and the possibility of touching them, Uli Aigner activates additional haptic sensory levels.
In the central staircase hall of the Neues Museum, the approximately 7,000 porcelain vessels Uli Aigner has produced so far for the “One Million” project can be seen in the form of a film installation. Around 700 fired and unfired, broken and intact vessels from the “One Million” archive are piled up at the top of the staircase hall like coral deposits. “One Million Item No. 1”, the first porcelain vessel that Uli Aigner made in December 2014, is displayed in a showcase in the Red Hall of the Neues Museum. Between the Bronze Age and Iron Age rooms are the artist’s largest objects to date: the largest porcelain vessel in the world, “Item 3501”, is 2.40 m high and 1.15 m in diameter and weighs approximately 800 kg. The sculpturally deformed vessel “Item 3502” is 1.50 m high and weighs approx. 400 kg. Monumental vessels of this size exist in stoneware or clay, but so far not in porcelain.
After completing her apprenticeship in pottery, Uli Aigner (*1965 in Austria) studied product design at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna and digital image design at the Baden-Württemberg Film Academy. Since the 1990s, she has presented her work in renowned international museums, institutions and galleries. In May 2015, she founded her own white-turner workshop in her studio on Brandenburgische Straße in Berlin.
The porcelain mass she uses comes from the city of Limoges in France, known for its porcelain production since 1771. The transparent glaze shows the fine ivory colour of the porcelain body, which is densely fired at 1,300 degrees Celsius. With her simple and clearly shaped bowls, mugs, bowls and plates, Uli Aigner makes porcelain itself as a storage medium the subject of her artistic exploration. She sees her art project as a lifelong performance with the aim of sharpening the sense of one’s own existence.
Exhibition dates: Thursday 6 October 2022 – Sunday 28 May 2023