A local artists' collective organized the event, which required participants to 'design an innovative and functional atelier that meets the needs of the changed working situation of contemporary artists'. With keywords like flexibility, mobility, temporary, small-scale, utility, ecology and experiment this was perhaps not the most surprising of briefs. Nonetheless, it attracted over 170 entries from several countries and disciplines, each with a different take on the altered social position and working method of 'the artist'. The designers of the eight winning entries got to build their atelier at 'Malkovich scale', which is to say half life-size. The organizers of the event claim that despite the scale, they were buildings as well as models, half symbolic and half functional.
The eight designs chosen by the professional jury represent the full range of approaches from practical to conceptual. The 'Duck and Cover' studio creates a 'safe house' for the artist, a place where they 'can dig themselves in against censorship in order to survive culturally difficult periods – at the cost of their own freedom'. This grey bunker is the opposite of the conceptual 'ParkPark' which enables artists to exhibit their work along the motorway by means of telescopic billboards: ultimate exposure and stardom for the commercially minded artist. The reflective 'Archive' entry is a fascinating object that all but disappears against the background of the untended shrubbery on the site. The most provocative design is 'InsideOutside' which turns the whole world into a working space; the internal walls of the stereotypical house are literally turned inside out to become the outer/studio walls. The working space of the artist in this instance has a surface area of around 510,225,000 km2.
Laudatory reviews in the national press generated a steady stream of interested visitors including many students, architects and artists, and a surprising number of parents (stooping and knocking their heads) and children (running around and climbing). Atelier Malkovich was originally intended to remain open until the end of September this year but in view of its popular success the organizers are now in talks with a sponsor with a view to opening the exhibition to the public every Sunday until summer 2009. There are also discussions about a follow up exhibition, a temporary display in a public space and adaptive re-use – given the scale the models would be ideal for child care centres.