20 August 2013

INTERVIEW: ULRIK WECK

Copyright Ulrik Weck / Courtesy Ulrik Weck and Peter Amby Gallery, Copenhagen / featured on artfridge Copyright Ulrik Weck / Courtesy Ulrik Weck and Peter Amby Gallery, Copenhagen / featured on artfridge Copyright Ulrik Weck / Courtesy Ulrik Weck and Peter Amby Gallery, Copenhagen / featured on artfridge Copyright Ulrik Weck / Courtesy Ulrik Weck and Peter Amby Gallery, Copenhagen / featured on artfridge Copyright Ulrik Weck / Courtesy Ulrik Weck and Peter Amby Gallery, Copenhagen / featured on artfridge Copyright Ulrik Weck / Courtesy Ulrik Weck and Peter Amby Gallery, Copenhagen / featured on artfridge Copyright Ulrik Weck / Courtesy Ulrik Weck and Peter Amby Gallery, Copenhagen / featured on artfridge Copyright Ulrik Weck / Courtesy Ulrik Weck and Peter Amby Gallery, Copenhagen / featured on artfridge
all works by Ulrik Weck / Copyright and Courtesy Ulrik Weck and Peter Amby Gallery Copenhagen

I first noticed the outstanding work of Copenhagen-based artist Ulrik Weck during a visit of the summer show at Peter Amby Gallery. Weck's installations, sculptures and paintings vary from series to series – his material ranges from bricks and wood, to soccer balls and neon-signs. Objects are transformed and loose their initial purpose. It is mostly this re-contextualisation of found objects and the subtle humor accompanying each piece with a satirical undertone, that unite his oeuvre. While Weck makes visually appealing art that doesn't necessarily need a long explanation, I was however interested in his artistic process and asked him about his approach towards questions on material, value and inspiration. Find the interview after the jump.


Anna-Lena Werner: Do you read books?
Ulrik Weck: Yes, I read books. I consider reading books a luxury, since it's such a time consuming activity. 

Anna: In your ongoing series "found", which you started in 2006, you use found wood from the streets, cut it and place it into shelves. After you collected dozens of them, it takes the shape of a filled bookshelf. How did you come up with that idea? 
Ulrik: Around 2006 I started making art again after a break of 3 years. I had neither money, nor a studio. At one point I became aware of all the old kitchens, Ikea cabinets, shelves or tables lying around in the streets and alleys of Copenhagen. The wood, which is cut to look like books, tells stories too. About their originality and how we throw things away, even though it's still functional. So "found" is about found material and their original use - and finding your way how to work with art, even though you have nothing. 

Anna: What makes the "found" series so special to you, that you continue doing it? Is there something unfinished about it or is it the infinity of found things that inspires you?
Ulrik: What I like is to drift. Riding my bike around town, exploring different parts of the city. Every now and then I find thrown-away furniture that becomes part of the found serie. So the collecting-material-part of this project is important to me.

Anna: The "found" series is just one out of several examples, in which you employ recontextualisation and a sort of recycling in your art. How important are values like sustainability for your practice and for the material that you use?
Ulrik: It's more about the look of and feeling of things, than about sustainability. I like the smell and look of an old car rather than of a new one. I guess I relate easily to things that have a patina and traces of life and use. And I have a soft heart for the Arte Povera movement. 

Anna: The material you use is differing a lot: A fridge, wood, concrete, but also neon-signs and painting are a part of your oeuvre. How come?
Ulrik: I guess it's about freedom and restlessness. Not having a trademark that you have to do over and over again because of a demand from the (art) market. That, and the need and desire to explore different materials, strategies and expressions. 

Anna: Do you mostly consider yourself a painter, a sculptor or do you prefer not being in any of these categories?
Ulrik: I think of myself as a Jack of all trades and master of none.

Anna: You are a contemporary artist. What makes art "Contemporary" to you?
Ulrik: When I think of contemporary art, I think: idea, material and context.

Anna: The concrete soccer balls, which you made, somehow highlight two very extremes: The lightness of a flying ball - the heaviness of concrete. What made the ball become an element of your work?
Ulrik: By coincidence and sort of the same way as the found series. Riding around town on my bike, exploring different locations of the city. One day I found a soccer ball on a playground which is quite normal. What happens is that kids just leave it behind once it is useless. Anyway, I took it to my studio, just because I thought it was beautiful. Slowly I started to collect these used soccer balls from various playgrounds while thinking what to do with them. I have always been a big fan of slapstick comedy; Laurel and Hardy, Buster Keton and Tom and Jerry, so I decided to make a slapstick comedy piece. I filled the soccer ball with concrete - so if you kick it, which is perhaps a natural reaction when seeing a ball lying around, you break a toe. There is something playful, naive and cruel about the pieces that I like – just like a prop in a Tom and Jerry movie.

Anna: When did you know that becoming an artist was the right choice?
Ulrik: The first time I saw the hip hop motion picture "Wild Style" from 1983, I knew there was a "place for me".

Anna: What inspires you?
Ulrik: The inspiration comes in many shapes and forms. An old abandoned factory, a Bruce Springsteen track, an old girlfriends perfume, Forum Romanum in Rome, other artists. Sometimes you are more open for inspiration and inputs and sometimes you need to concentrate and focus on the work your are working on.

Anna: Do you listen to music while you work?
Ulrik: Yes. Beastie Boys, Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen, Wu Tang Clan, Happy Mondays, Depeche Mode, When Saints Go Machine...the list goes on and on and varies in terms of the mood I'm in. But as you might have noticed, it‘s a very schizophrenic list.

Anna: Your favourite place in Copenhagen?
Ulrik: The small park on the backside of Glyptoteket - a museum that host the largest collection of ancient art in Scandinavia. It has a beautiful manicured garden, but the real gem is Rodin's The Thinker, one of the 20 existing casts. The park is a great spot for reading, hanging out and playing soccer with my kids. 

Anna: What‘s on your upcoming agenda?
Ulrik: A collaboration with the painter Michael Bevilacqua and a solo show at Gallery Peter Amby in Copenhagen, in January 2014.

Artist website: ulrikweck.com
Gallery website: peteramby.com

Copyright Ulrik Weck / Courtesy Ulrik Weck and Peter Amby Gallery, Copenhagen / featured on artfridge Copyright Ulrik Weck / Courtesy Ulrik Weck and Peter Amby Gallery, Copenhagen / featured on artfridge Copyright Ulrik Weck / Courtesy Ulrik Weck and Peter Amby Gallery, Copenhagen / featured on artfridge Copyright Ulrik Weck / Courtesy Ulrik Weck and Peter Amby Gallery, Copenhagen / featured on artfridge Copyright Ulrik Weck / Courtesy Ulrik Weck and Peter Amby Gallery, Copenhagen / featured on artfridge Copyright Ulrik Weck / Courtesy Ulrik Weck and Peter Amby Gallery, Copenhagen / featured on artfridge

all works by Ulrik Weck / Copyright and Courtesy Ulrik Weck and Peter Amby Gallery Copenhagen
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