Switched on by creative dynamo



Those scratching their heads over the strange figure we are being asked to associate with during the 2008 Adelaide Festival will be pleased to know they're in good company.

The artist responsible is not entirely sure what it is.

South Australia’s Michael Kutschbach says the curious blob-like shape appeared in his work a number of years ago. It has since been inveigling itself into almost everything he does.

“I don’t really know what it is,” he says. “I find it a lot more interesting to produce something that raises questions rather than gives answers – something I can look at and go, ‘wow, that’s interesting, but I don’t really know why’.

“At the same time each body of work has its concerns – technology and the use of technology, decoration and ornament and how they function, the way graphic design and architecture affects us.

“These are all things I’m very interested in.”

Go, you little dynamo, go! – the slightly alien, 1.8m tall red and white sculpture that seems to eyeball you from the cover of the 2008 Adelaide Festival program – made its appearance at the Festival launch in October.

Pulled on to the stage in a crate by artistic director Brett Sheehy, it arrived with a bang in a cloud of smoke when the crate suddenly exploded. The effect was a bit like the astonishment experienced by characters in a movie when they find the spaceship they were expecting contains friendly cargo.

Adding to the intrigue was the discovery that between now and the festival this benign creature would grow into a family of 10.

“In a way it’s a mascot for the festival,” says Kutschbach, 32.

“Brett Sheehy was very clear that he wanted something that would attempt to embody the festival. So far the response has been very positive. It seems to put a smile on people’s faces, which is wonderful.”

Kutschbach says pop art may provide a way into the work.

“People can read what they want into it but for me it has references to art history and to modernism, and to sculptural traditions of abstract art,” he says.

“But on the surface it’s designed as a people’s sculpture.

“When we get a few more made, and they start popping up around the city at festival time, the public will have a chance to get a bit closer to it.”

While Kutschbach has been thrust into the spotlight with Go, you little dynamo, go! – affectionately referred to as the “gizmo” among festival staff – to those in the know he’s one of the state’s most exciting young artists.

His work has been included in important group and solo exhibitions here and overseas, and bought for public and private collections, including the Art Gallery of SA.

Presently based in Germany, he was among a small group of artists singled out to watch at the 2006 Cologne Art Fair, and he was included in an annual list of 50 promising emerging artists in the British visual arts journal Contemporary Magazine.

He has received numerous residencies and awards, including a Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant from the U.S. to support his work over the next few months.

Last year he showed in Germany alongside leading contemporary artists such as Louise Bourgeois, Marcel Dzama, Jake and Dinos Chapman, and Laura Ford.

Melbourne-born, Kutschbach moved to Adelaide in 1996 after studying at the Victorian College of the Arts. He was offered a studio at Adelaide Central School of Art and was already familiar with the city.

As a child, he made regular trips to SA with his brother to visit relatives.

Awards gave him the opportunity to travel overseas and he gravitated to Germany, where his parents were born and he still has family. Now he is based in Berlin with his German-born wife.

The couple married in Adelaide last year and hope to one day divide their time between Germany and Adelaide.

Kutschbach says he makes a living in Berlin with his art, and framing work for other artists in a city that is “overrun with artists”.



Nunn, Louise. Switched on by creative dynamo, The Advertiser, 24/2/2008 (review)