The notion of artist as philosopher has a long tradition with artists writing manifestoes, developing bold new ideas and imagining new kinds of societies and cultures. Visual artist Kaspar Schmidt Mumm continues this lineage with his dynamic vision for the IMMI, “…an unidentified culture living in the cracks of society.”
For Schmidt Mumm, the IMMI are a parallel of his own cultural background. Born in Germany, to a Canadian Pakistani mother and German father, he considers himself an immigrant with a hybrid and ever-evolving identity. Moving with his parents as a child to South Australia, Schmidt Mumm has found his niche in Adelaide and has a reputation as an exciting young contemporary artist with a focus on collaboration and community.
The IMMI manifesto, which begins, “Culture is stored in thousands of years of tradition, but is born through smaller intuitive ideas, accidents and interpretations”, has been informed by Professor John Carty, Head of Humanities at the South Australian Museum, who recently mentored Schmidt Mumm on ethics and ethnography. It is brought to life in a suite of photographs, videos, performances and drawings being developed at a 6-week residency at the Minor Works building in the Adelaide CBD, as part of a new program delivered by Guildhouse in partnership with the City of Adelaide.
The imagery is of Schmidt Mumm himself, performing the IMMI characters, who are in his words, “A congregation and a ceremony, with each character having its own identity such as the shaman, the poet and the cook.” Reminiscent of the absurd humour of Dadaism and awash in Yves Klein Blue, the characters are constructed from recycled and re-used materials, such as a broom head as a mask and dish cleaner as a sceptre.
The culmination of the residency is a community dinner in early June. In the role of host artist, Schmidt Mumm says he will, “Catalyse the event, creating an environment to break down barriers so that everyone socialises and has a commonality, being free in their cultural identity.” It is an ambitious vision and view of the world where everyone is equal and barriers are broken down. Schmidt Mumm imbues hope and happiness with his infectious optimism and he might just have a winning philosophy for a brighter future.
First appeared in The Adelaide Review, Issue 460.