2 August 2019

INTERVIEW: ELSA SALONEN

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Elsa Salonen, "Stories Told by Stones (The Narrators)," mineral stones, earths, pigments ground from them, laboratory glasses, 2018 © the artist

Fossils are older than we can even imagine sequences of time. Imagine they could speak. They store historical information about our planet, which seems to fall apart in this very moment, in the age of the anthropocene – the human era. This current epoch is defined by the enormous impact human beings have on the earth's ecosystems and its geology. In light of the dystopian future this era promises, there seem to be only two sets of reactions left for us: resignation or activism. The Finnish, Berlin-based artist Elsa Salonen chose the latter and her activism – which is an essential part of her artistic research  – involves giving the earth and all its natural materials a voice to speak. She distills colours from flowers, and extracts pigments from stones, she uses bones, earth, meteorite dust, seawater from places all over the planet, to reveal something about the knowledge these materials store. In our interview, which we initially commenced in 2015 and continued in 2019, Elsa told me how she makes traditions of animism and processes of alchemy productive for her artistic practice.

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