31 May 2019

INTERVIEW: DERYA BAYRAKTAROĞLU

unspeakable home, enchanting companions
Installation View "unspeakable home, enchanting companions, Badischer Kunstverein, 2019 © the artists, Photo: Stephan Baumann 

The Baden Art Association (Badischer Kunstverein) is currently hosting two expansive exhibitions synchronously focusing contemporary feminist art practices from Turkey; Nilbar Güreş’s solo exhibition "Lovers" and the group exhibition "unspeakable home, enchanting companions" curated by Derya Bayraktaroğlu. Collaborating with local artists, collectives, archives and publishing houses, and taking a satirical yet archival curatorial methodology, Derya Bayraktaroğlu focusses on bringing together current feminist and proto-queer discussions and practices from Turkey. In our interview, Bayraktaroğlu told me about the research period prior to the group exhibition, details about its public program and the difficulties of expressing up-to-date feminist discourses within and through art. 

21 May 2019

INTERVIEW: ARTSPRING

artspring 2019_artspring spots_KEP Raumforschunglabor in den Schînhauser Arcaden_Foto Ralph Bergel artspring 2019 / KEP Raumforschunglabor at Schönhauser Allee Arcaden, Photo © Ralph Bergel

Anna-Lena Werner: Julia and Jan, with artspring you are organising one of Berlin’s largest open-studio events and an extensive one-month art festival in all parts of Pankow. Its first edition took place in 2017 –– which reasons led you to initiate artspring in the first place and how did your collaboration come about?

Julia Brodauf & Jan Gottschalk: We were actually working together on other projects, but the idea of organizing an event based on open studios has been around for a while. We had the impression that the art scene in the district of Pankow was falling apart, while individual artists are struggling with the same challenges: because of the lack of exhibition facilities, the artists in the district are not very visible, and at the same time their workspaces are a sought-after property in the real estate market. There was and still is a risk of the artists slowly being pushed out of the district, if they would not become visible. So we wrote a concept for the first artspring weekend and found support in the project funding by the Cultural Office. The artists also reacted very positively and made already the first artspring weekend an event marathon, which we had not expected in advance. It was then clear that we could not just let that energy evaporate again, and that's how the series came to be.

11 April 2019

INTERVIEW: HAZMATLAB

HazMatLab, slime production, 2018 © HazMatLab, Slime Production, 2018, Photo by Killa Schuetze

HazMatLab is a Frankfurt-based collective, including the artists Sandra Havlicek, Tina Kohlmann and Katharina Schücke. With an emphasis on process-based working practices, the collective is focused on material research and experimentation, trying to push boundaries in cross-sections between chemistry, biology, art and scientific imagination. All three artists studied at Städelschule in Frankfurt with different professors, and after graduating in 2016 they started collaborating as HazMatLab. After attending a nail art night in their studio, the artists took me through how they transformed an abandoned room in their building into a hidden lab filled with nail polish smells and curious slimes. This lab is where their work takes place: chemical and alchemical experiments with materials from cosmetics, technology or TCM. We talked about their recent solo exhibition “soothing efficacy” at 8. Salon in Hamburg and the importance of collaborative thinking processes in contemporary art practices. 

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.