Joseph Kohlmaier founded Field Studies in 2010. He is Principal Lecturer and Head of Critical and Contextual Studies at the Cass School of Art, Architecture and Design, London Metropolitan University. He is the founding director of Musarc (2008), one of the UK’s most progressive choral collectives, and acts as its principal and creative director; and one of the directors of graphic design practice Polimekanos which he founded with artist/designer Stefan Kraus in 2001. In 2016, he founded Cours de Poétique, a new imprint which is situated at the crossing of Joseph’s practice as a designer, the lines of inquiry that define his work as a teacher, artist, producer, curator and performer, and the work that grows out of the collaborations and encounters that play a central role in Joseph’s multi-disciplinary practice.
Cours de Poétique’s first publication, The Listening Reader, was edited by Joseph and Sam Belinfante, who is co-curating this year’s Field Studies, and includes contributions from Field Studies tutors Brandon LaBelle (2012), Esther Venrooij (2011 and 2017) and Ed McKeon (2015 and 2017). Forthcoming titles include new editions of O.F. Bollnow’s Human Space and Morton Feldman Says (Chris Villars, ed.), two publications originally edited and conceived by Joseph in collaboration with Hyphen Press; Architecture after Zero, a series of lectures by Irenée Scalbert; New Cinema and the City, with Hector Arkomanis; and a polemic on irony and repetition in architecture by Aleks Catina are forthcoming in 2017/18, alongside a new and innovative strand of music publishing.
His work as a graphic designer is situated predominantly in the sector of arts, culture, education and the public realm, and has led Joseph to work with clients and institutions in the UK and abroad including the Arnolfini, the South Bank Centre, University of the Arts, East architecture urban design, Caruso St John Architects, Austrian Cultural Forum, Mahler Foundation, Studio Weave, Siobhan Davies Dance, Tate Britan, Cafe OTO, Spike Island, V22, many London boroughs and fashion label Bernhard Willhelm.
Joseph’s work as a teacher received important impulses from his studies at Friedl Kubelka’s independent Schule für Künstlerische Photographie, Vienna, and his education with Robert Harbison, Colin Davies and Helen Mallinson in architectural history and theory at the LondonMet, where he gained a Masters degree, and where he has been working as a member of the faculty since 2005. Joseph has devised postgraduate teaching programmes on the philosophy and conception of space; on sound, music and the act of listening in the context of architecture; and on the relationship between poetry and architecture. He is convenor of the Cass’s innovative, cross-disciplinary third-year dissertation module, and tutor of one of the dissertation studios. Together with his work as a guest lecturer, at Field Studies, and through his practice as curator and artistic director of Musarc, these teaching programmes constitute a territory of experimentation and unusual methodologies in the classroom which include cooking, walking, reading, joint writing and, more recently, research and pedagogies that challenge the ‘creative imperative’ and are concerned with copying, plagiarism, and pit tradition against innovation.
As a producer, curator and artistic director of Musarc, Joseph has conceived and realised many performances, collaborations, commissions and artists’ projects since the choir’s foundation in 2008. The choir has performed at Cafe OTO, Bold Tendencies, Turner Contemporary, V22 and the Royal Maritime Museum. In 2012, Musarc presented Bang! Being the Building at the Barbican’s OMA/Progess show, and its voices could be heard in Ed Atkin’s Us Dead Talk Love at the Chisenhale Gallery. In 2013, Musarc presented again again with Melanie Pappenheim at Milton Keynes Gallery in response to an exhibition of Peter Dreher’s work. The ensemble returned to MK Gallery for their show How to construct a time machine where it performed a choral version of Terry Riley’s In C and a new work by Neil Luck, and more recently on the occasion of MK Gallery’s contribution to MK CityFest and the International New Towns Institute (INTI) Conference/Academy of Urbanism (AoU) Symposium (June 2017). Musarc’s voices could be heard at the New Museum, New York, in Laure Prouvost's How to make money religiously (2014). Ed Atkins invited the ensemble back to perform at Synonyms: Five or six noise-making rifts, a Park night at the Serpentine Gallery on the occasion of his solo-show in July 2014. In 2015, Musarc took part in a performance of Peter Liversidge’s Notes on protesting, and performed Sam Belinfante’s Corpus Sonus for voices and dictaphones, both at the Whitechapel Gallery. In 2016, Musarc performed at Wysing Poliphonic and at the Museum of London. The choir has collaborated with experimental music label Entr’acte, with whom it is currently producing an album of Musarc’s commissions from Neil Luck performed at Extra City, Antwerp, in October 2015. Musarc has worked many artists and composers including Anton Lukoszevieze, Sarah Kate Wilson, Ben Hadley, Benedict Drew, Esther Venrooij, Neil Luck, Marc Behrens, Claudia Molitor, TONGUE, and Sam Belinfante. More recently, Musarc presented a series of performances at Do D!sturb 2017, Palais de Tokyo, Paris, for which Joseph conceived a gigantic semi-circular mirror. Currently, the choir is working on a production for the Lisson Gallery with Allora & Calzadilla and composer David Lang.