Joseph Kohlmaier is a 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.
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 presentedBang! Being the Buildingat the Barbican’s OMA/Progess show, and its voices could be heard in Ed Atkin’sUs Dead Talk Loveat the Chisenhale Gallery. In 2013, Musarc presentedagain againwith Melanie Pappenheim at Milton Keynes Gallery in response to an exhibition of Peter Dreher’s work. The ensemble returned to MK Gallery for their showHow to construct a time machinewhere it performed a choral version of Terry Riley’sIn Cand 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'sHow to make money religiously(2014). Ed Atkins invited the ensemble back to perform atSynonyms: 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’sNotes on protesting, and performed Sam Belinfante’sCorpus Sonusfor 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.