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Monday, 10.05.2021 – 30.05.2021
Multiple Groups

Language of Art Production—A Series of Workshops on Site-specific Vocabulary

Searches in libraries or archives usually begin with a term entered in a search field. We thus search for a topic in a targeted manner or narrow this search. The result depends not only on the accuracy of the terms entered, but also on the keywords that are linked with objects. The collections of the Sitterwerk Foundation can be searched in the online catalogue using keywords, but also offer the possibility to search in the shelves and/or drawers. The two sorts of searches lead us to different discoveries. What do we learn from searching in the shelves with respect to conducting research in the catalogue and vice versa? With which search terms do we find which contents? What does this vocabulary depict, and what does it not depict? What categories is it based on? Can we come up with new categories and keywords that are characteristic for the site and its collections?

The series of workshops “Kunst Produktion Sprache” (Language of Art Production) wants to think about a site-specific vocabulary for the Art Library and the Material Archive, amend it, and thus supplement the standard keyword abstracting in the Sitterwerk catalogue. The prevailing structures will be interrogated and a vocabulary that is supposed to flow into the catalogue will be compiled in cooperation with users and invited guests. This vocabulary should be based on the holdings of the collections of materials and books and on the production processes of the Kunstgiesserei St.Gallen, emphasize the specificities of the Sitterwerk and its collections, and create new points of access. We will also examine the function of the catalogue as a research tool that underlies the structures of order and hierarchies.

The workshops are open to the public, with a limited number of participants. They will be, depending on the situation, be conducted onsite or online. You can find up-to-date information on our website.

Participation only on registration with Barbara Biedermann (

March 31, 2–5 p.m.
“Site-specific Vocabulary: Crafting and Production Processes”
Introduction and moderation: Jasna Zwimpfer, in cooperation with Hanna Baro, Michael Günzburger, Julia Lütolf, Franca Mader, Lothar Schmitt, Mara Züst and Kunstgiesserei St. Gallen.

The workshop deals with questions regarding what we want to know about specific production and crafting processes. How do we describe particular processes, and what is found in connection with this in the Art Library and the Material Archive? What does a material sample say about a production process? How can we establish a vocabulary that creates new, more direct points of access when using the library? How do we talk about production processes, and are we familiar with stories about production? How do we search, how do we proceed when conducting a search, and what do we expect from the search? Is there actually a specific process-related vocabulary?

The librarian and art historian Jasna Zwimpfer introduces us to the world of controlled vocabularies and provides an overview of what a useful thesaurus includes, what finished thesauruses are available to us, and how we can work with them. We will work on a site-specific vocabulary that focuses on production and crafting techniques.

April 29, 2–5 p.m.
“Site-specific Vocabulary: Books”
Introduction and moderation: Barbara Biedermann, in cooperation with Anne-Laure Franchette, Roland Früh, Franziska Koch & A Frei, Izet Sheshivari, Jan Steinbach and Gloria Wismer.

The books in the Art Library of the Sitterwerk are not only carriers of information; they are also interesting as objects of book design and the history of typography or graphic design. They also contain many notes, comments, and supplements by their previous owners, in particular Daniel Rohner. What do we discern when we do not search books for specific contents and information, but instead consider them as intentionally designed objects? Why does a book speak to us, and why do we take it from the shelves? What do we comprehend when browsing, reading, or looking at graphics? How can these criteria of book design be put into words and included in the catalogue, and where are there interfaces with a book’s contents? Might it thus be possible to imagine something like a vocabulary of book design, and how can we establish new categories for it?

Invited guests explore the library on the shelves and put together small compilations of books. Together, we will discuss possible categories for the existing holdings of books and ask what alternative categories are possible.

May 20, 2–5 p.m.
“Site-specific Vocabulary: The Catalogue”
Introduction and moderation Lucie Kolb, in cooperation with Philipp Messner, Axelle Stiefel, Eva Weinmayr, Jasna Zwimpfer.

Keywords in library catalogues are never neutral; they designate, classify, and index. An act of interpretation is thus always connected with them. They frame and determine how books and materials are found—and, to a certain extent, also how they are read or interpreted. What socially produced and embedded structures are found in the descriptive metadata of the Art Library? How can traces of the work on descriptors be made visible? How might it be possible to introduce keywords that focus less on demarcating a topic than on how it is possible to work with it, that do not describe what books are, but rather what they do, how we use them, and what they do to us?

The third workshop refers back to the vocabulary developed in workshops 1 and 2 and embeds it in a discourse on structures of order and hierarchies.