28 February 2019

INTERVIEW: BEN THORP BROWN

Ben Thorp Brown_Video Still Gropius Memory Palace_2017_03
Ben Thorp Brown, Gropius Memory Palace, 2017 (film still). Courtesy the artist

Ben Thorp Brown's work addresses embodied experience, perception and memory. Working across video, sculpture, performance, his projects consider the effects of on-going economic, environmental, and technological change. He received a B.A. from Williams College, an M.F.A. from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and attended the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program. In this interview Ben Thorp Brown talks about his two most recent films, "Gropius Memory Palace", which was recently shown at Display in Berlin and "The Arcadia Center", which will be presented at the Jeu de Paume in Paris, CAPC Bordeaux, and Museo Amparo in Puebla, Mexico starting in June this year.

30 January 2019

INTERVIEW: JONATHAN SCHMIDT-OTT

vollmond_01 © Jonathan Schmidt-Ott, "~Vollmond"

If the photographic practice of Berlin-born artist Jonathan Schmidt-Ott needed to be narrowed down to only two words, I would borrow Lukas Feireiss' description of it as "poetic and unpretentious."* But Jonathan's practice usually does not actually allow narrowing down –– it consists of visual sequences, fragmentary stories, unusual perspectives that document moments of emotional importance, without really knowing why these moments seem so important. Jonathan has a talent in assembling not only motifs but also people: we met in 2015 at his project space DZIALDOV, where he showed a couple of his own sculptures that he had developed during the cleaning of his basement. Not long afterwards, I co-curated an exhibition at DZIALDOV together with Katja Kottmann. All of Jonathan's practices – art, curating, books, film-making – have a unique sense of sequencing images or objects, which may be rooted in his original training as a film editor. The following interview took place on occasion of his photography exhibition "~Vollmond" [~Full Moon] at Galerie Michael Janssen in Berlin, where we held an artist conversation.

*Feireiss in SE COSÌ FOSSE, 2018

12 December 2018

INTERVIEW: PETRA GELL

Petra Gell_artfridge_New line 2 © Petra Gell 

Geometric shapes, objects and bright colour fields dominate the formal vocabulary of Vienna-based artist Petra Gell. The compositions of her drawings and collages always refer to architectural structures that she observes photographically, and then decomposes to abstract lines and surfaces for her own work. This experimental process of rearranging spacial compositions on paper is further abstracted in her installation-based work, which translates the composition back into its spacial surrounding, while removing the initial architectural function. Petra, who co-found the artist collective "Die vier Grazien", told me about why architecture influences her practice.

8 November 2018

INTERVIEW: JOEP VAN LIEFLAND

JvLiefland_artfridge_VP#38-the revolutionary potential Joep van Liefland © "Video Palace #38 – The Revolutionary Potential of the Outmoded (Storage I)", 2014 

You might still remember going to your local video store, opening the cover of the rental tape once you were at home, listening to the sound of it being dragged inside the slip of the recorder and then pressing play and forward to start the movie. When the Dutch artist Joep van Liefland first began working with the medium of the videotape, it was 2002 and video was still widely in use. Since then, Joep has exercised experiments with its form and its context: Every detail linked to videotapes – movies, screens, recorders, covers, stores, remote controls – somehow played into his conceptual practice one way or the other. He collected thousands of tapes, now causing him storage problems.

Joep, who used to run one of Berlin's most established project spaces – Autocenter – together with Maik Schierloh from 2001 to 2018, has an industrial studio space in the city's east. Although I had wrongly anticipated it to resemble one of the videotape installations that he made more than fifty of throughout the past years, we sat downstairs surrounded by hundreds of empty tape cases stored in the studio's upper gallery level and had a conversation about his commitment to the video tape.

24 October 2018

INTERVIEW: NICKY BROEKHUYSEN

The Channeling_Image V © Nicky Broekhuysen "The Channeling V" (2018)

It can be difficult for artists to express stories of magic and personal memories through their practice, while most of us tend to believe fictional narratives when they are served on a silver plate. Nicky Broekhuysen, who works and lives in Berlin, translates one of these highly personal and perhaps even non-logical stories into the artistic project "The Channeling" that she will be presenting at Davidson Gallery in New York. The project is based on a story involving Nicky's grandmother Marge Hugo and her relationship to the impressionist painter Claude Monet. Merging painting and binary code, while referencing her grandmother's practice of channeling and spiritual awareness, Nicky's various artistic techniques accompany her through a journey from the past into the future. Her practice is a reminder of how art is still the most powerful tool for magical narratives and ways of remembering inspiring people. 

19 August 2018

INTERVIEW: CHRIS BENEDICT AND MARIE-JOSÉ OURTILANE

09.08.psf_day
Project Space Festival, 09.08.2018, Kreuzberg Pavillon, Deep Nation; Photo © Piotr Pietrus

Giving Berlin's landscape of approximately 140 non-profit project spaces increased visibility, fighting for their rights, their funding and their appreciation, both the Netzwerk Freier Projekträume- und Initiativen e.V. and the Project Space Festival are initiatives which do considerable work to help the independent art scene to survive. I spoke to Chris Benedict, manager of the Netzwerk Freier Projekträume- und Initiativen, and Marie-José Ourtilane, the current manager of Project Space Festival, about their first collaboration this August.

15 August 2018

INTERVIEW: U5

U5, House of Sentiments (Filmstill), 2018, 4-Kanal-Videoinstallation, © U5_2 U5, House of Sentiments (Filmstill), 2018, 4-Kanal-Videoinstallation, © U5_3
U5, House of Sentiments (Filmstill), 2018, 4-Kanal-Videoinstallation, © U5_1
U5, House of Sentiments (Filmstills), 2018, 4-Kanal-Videoinstallation, © U5 

U5 is a Zurich-based artist collective I first encountered at the screening of their work “The Human Crater” at the cinema of the historic hotel Castell in Zuoz. In this stunning, but somewhat ambivalent, environment of the luxury hotel in the Swiss Alps the collective confronted spectators with subjects such as collaborative working ethics, the history of colonial discovery travel, the human-nature relationship, political and aesthetic strategies. We continued talking at their studio in Zurich, where I could witness the development of their new installation work “House of Sentiments.” Later the musician Vivian Wang, who contributed to the video piece, joined us in our digital conversation about the nuances in our understanding of emotions and colours.

8 August 2018

INTERVIEW: ANI SCHULZE

Ani Schulze, Merchants Freely Enter, Video Still, 4K Video , 12min, 2017, supported by Kunststiftung NRWAni Schulze, Merchants Freely Enter, Video Still, 2017, supported by Kunststiftung NRW
all works © Ani Schulze

I met the German artist Ani Schulze at Sitterwerk in St. Gallen, where artists, writers, craftspeople and scientists meet on several occasions, such as open studios, book launches or presentations of current research. Our conversation about the influence of technological developments on the contemporary visual culture, the representation of landscape and the implementation of new ecosystems continued over an artist talk in Zürich and later, during several digital and analogue encounters.