The Art Workshop was initiated in 1998 by the Luxembourg artist Bert Theis (in close collaboration with Paul di Felice) during his art project for Manifesta 2 – European Biennial for Contemporary Art. Every Summer since then, Casino Luxembourg has been organising artist residencies, grouping together twelve young international artists around specific themes.
The 2008 edition of the Art Workshop focused on the theme of dating. Since the beginning of the 20th century, artists have pursued the social desire to integrate the Other / the “stranger” in their artistic work. In numerous works of art, developing contacts and relationships with strangers has played an important part. Today, organising “dates” may become a new way for artists to meet individuals s/he does not already know. The autonomously arranged “date” has become a socially accepted and popular activity. The dating culture has changed drastically within the last ten years. The computer and the worldwide web have largely replaced personal mediating. Indeed, the spread of a “call for answers” can nowadays be global, and its reach therefore wider than ever. Meanwhile, the lapse of time between an ad posted on websites and the reactions to it has sharply been reduced to an almost imperceptible time span. “Dating” as a social activity and as a means of building up an intimate relationship often starts on the Internet. As such, it first of all takes place on the virtual level before potentially evolving to a real date with two physical protagonists.
Internet dating was therefore the theme of the Art Workshop 2008. The artists were invited to include Internet dating in some way or other in their artistic process. The artist could choose to put him(her)self either in the role of the hunter/seeker or in that of the reacting counterpart. S/he was either the direct witness to a dating adventure or used the electronic dating structure indirectly. The communication techniques such as giving information about oneself in one’s profile and the art of asking questions are the condition of success for interpersonal relations. In addition, the propagation of fake information and the uncertainty of virtual intimacy open up new potentialities but also alternative emotional fields. The players on both sides had to decide whether to be honest or not. They had the possibility of playing a part, adopting different identities, testing people out, changing tactics… Interacting with the other means exploring different aspects of one’s personality and practising social contacts.