Studio Visit with Klaus Killisch

Klaus Killisch
September 4, 2018

GoArt! studio visit with Klaus Killisch

„Mann vor Mauer“ (1988) by artist Klaus Killisch is part of the group show „ Die Schönheit der großen Stadt“ at Ephraim Palais, running till October 28th, 2018. The exhibition shows 120 top-class works by artists who represent the urban and social structures of Berlin in the 19th and 20th century. Born in the former GDR, Klaus Killisch lives in Berlin since 1972, first studied industrial design, later painting at the Academy of Arts in Weissensee. Expressionism as well as the Bauhaus idea, pop and punk, bands such as Einstürzende Neubauten or Nick Cave have influenced the artist’s style from the beginning – a particular kind of collage painting. Music as sound, or rather as material – vinyl, record sleeves or portraits of these models often represent a component of Klaus paintings.

Miriam met the artist in his studio.

Miriam Bers: You told me that the above named heroes of the eighties also swept to the former East of the city, to the Art Academy in Weissensee. This is hardly comprehensible for someone who never lived in the GDR. How does it coalite: Punk and GDR? How come that these movements have significantly shaped your work?

Klaus Killisch: My interest was listening to cool music while painting; for example Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds or Einstürzende Neubauten inspired me a lot. This kind of music best expressed our feelings, the awareness of life at that very moment. It was like a motor stimulating me while painting and propelling me into trance. And it still works the same way today. Much later I understood how much ‚Zeitgeist‘ was turning up in my paintings. This for example is highly visible in ‚die Seele brennt‘ or ‚Teutonisches Bild‘, showing a wolf-man rising out of the image-space.

MB: You mentioned the pottery workshop of Wilfriede Maass being important for you and for other artists, who later also had a gallery in Berlin Mitte in the 90ies.

KK: In the 80ies, the pottery workshop of Wilfriede Maas was a kind of salon and meeting place for the subversive art scene in Prenzlauer Berg, East Berlin. Artists like Cornelia Schleime, Wolfram Scheffler or Angela Hampel painted their pottery there. When I met Wilfriede, many of them had already left the East to live in the West. This exodus was a big loss, but at the same time it helped us going one step further. Together with Wilfriede, Sabine Herrmann and Petra Schramm I founded one of the first artists run galleries in East Berlin. We invited other artists to work there. The ceramic works being produced in the workshop have then been exhibited together with the respective actual work. I therefore had designed blue wall paintings and exhibited my pottery in front of it. That was pretty cool! In the nineties we moved to Gipsstreet with the gallery. We were pioneers of the art boom in Mitte. One highlight was the exhibition ‚Sake Bar‘. It was the idea of Mikael Eriksson. You could sit in a recreated Sake Bar, drink from the vessels but also buy them. Neo Rauch, Carsten Nicolai and many others participated.

MB: How has your work grown in the nineties until today, in the spotlight Berlin? Have you instantly had contacts to people living abroad, after the fall of the wall? I know that in 2004 you co-founded the group ‚Collective Task‘, a kind of mail art together with a poetry scene in New York. How does it work and what is the idea of the collective undertaking about?

KK: When the wall felt through our peaceful revolution I was kind of fortunate: I have been invited to the Biennial of Venice! My expressive works were part of the show Berlin! inthe Italian Pavillon. That was totally exciting and new. With the help of fellowships and exhibitions I traveled a lot and also stayed in Japan for a while. There, I met the American poet Robert Fitterman with whom I have a very long friendship now. He had the idea of ‘Collective Task’. We both organize CT for more than 10 years. The idea is relatively simple: Each month an artist sets a task and the others answer, each in his or her creative way. The results and its variety can be seen on our website. In 2012 we were even invited presenting the work at MoMA. This was thrilling.

In my artistic work I am open for inspiration. Thus several years ago I have been asked by Sangare Siemsen to create a ceiling look for his bar ‚ambulance‘, with records he dj‘ed in the nineties. With this work my passion for vinyl break out. I started experimenting with acrylic color and screened motifs from advertisement thereby developing my collage painting. Talking in terms of music, there is Sampling. And this is how I conceive my art – as a mix of a piece of everyday culture, of the club scene, of trash and painting. Unfortunately the bar no longer exists. In the meantime the ceiling has been covered. Perhaps one day it can be uncovered again.

MB: What will be shown at your next solo exhibition “Endless Rhythm” in Chemnitz? Where and when can it be seen?

KK: The show will beon display at gallery ‚Weltecho‘, starting October 20th, 2018. I already look forward to realizing a wall work there, on the 5 meter high walls!

MB: Which is your favorite place in Berlin?

KK: My studio.

MB: Which is your place of longing?

KK: Parpan, a little village in Graubünden.

MB: How does your day end? Do you cook yourself or do you eat out?

KK: Both. But cooking at home and dining with my family is best.

MB: Recipe idea?

KK: My children often ask for pancakes. And most of the times they turn out well/filmly cut. There are so many options to enjoy them – with salmon, mushrooms, salad or as a desert.

photo credit: Klaus Killisch

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Klaus Killisch
Klaus Killisch
Klaus Killisch
Klaus Killisch
Klaus Killisch

Fashion Week Berlin – König Souvenir x Kollektiv Ignaz

Fashion Week Ignaz Kollektiv
July 13, 2018

A very exciting and rather atypical presentation at the Berliner Salon during Fashion Week Berlin was the cooperation of a contemporary art gallery and the over one year ago founded Kollektiv Ignaz. König Souvenir had been launched in 2017 and is a young product line of the successful Galerie König that recently opened a dependency in London.

König Souvenir creates editions like shirts, hoodies, beach towels and further accessories, whose prints refer to artists’ works being shown in the gallery and furthermore focuses on socially and politically relevant topics that define our everyday life. For example, there are leggings with a print of a work by Claudia Comte or the Guilt Cap by Monica Bonvicini but also a EUnify Hoodie calling for critical commitment to the European project. Kollektiv Ignaz lives in Frankfurt cutting a dash with music, design and photography related events, also in cooperation with the Museum of Applied Arts. Stated goal of the triple is arousing interest of young and creative peers currently graduating from school being less text-heavy than their predecessors.

Miriam Bers spoke with the protagonists during Fashion Week Berlin.

MB: Why founding the group, what moves you?

KI: Our group is based on friendship. We are friends for years now and have lived out our own creative ideas. At a certain point we began exchanging projects and became a team. Above all, we want to express our own creativity using the collective as a platform.

MB: König Souvenir, why collaborating with the collective during Fashion Week Berlin?

KS: We have been known Ignaz for a while and took notice of them through their creative projects. When the anti-Semitic attacks happened we were in a close dialogue with each other setting an example for tolerance and against hate while developing the Solidarity Hoodie together.

MB: The Solidarity Hoodie is a brilliant idea: A kippah stitched on a hoodie. In this way, you create a political lifestyle–product representing different minorities. The kippah as a Jewish symbol, the hoodie once synonym for marginalized groups, later popular in the hip hop scene and nowadays indispensable. Sometimes also connected to anonymity and denial.

MB: Where did the idea come from?

KI: The hoodie does not play a certain role. We all come from a generation where an outfit is not about its past but about its look and coolness. Both, attacks against the Jewish as well as against other religions unfortunately still happen too often in Germany. We are sick of the press and the society discussing religious details over and over again when the general free practice of religion is just not possible.

MB: Who is your target audience?

KI: There is no specific target group. Everybody who is for the freedom of religions and wants to stand up for people being religiously discriminated is invited to wear this hoodie.

MB: The hoodie is an edition of?

KS: The hoodie is an edition of 500 and currently available in the colors black, blue, yellow, grey and green.

MB: How does it feel to be represented together with König Souvenir at Berliner Salon during Fashion Week Berlin? How is the reaction to the Solidarity Hoodie?

KI: Of course it is a great honor and a huge opportunity to collaborate with König Souvenir. Even before the cooperation we were big fans of them.

KS: The Berliner Salon during Fashion Week was the perfect platform to show the Solidarity Hoodie. We received a throughout positive echo and even requests from the US.

MB: What’s next?

KI: Within the last months, we have fully dedicated ourselves to this project. But of course we will carry on soon.

MB: König Souvenir, which will be your next highlight?

KS: We have currently two new shirts in store created on the occasion of the exhibition by Andreas Mühe presenting his new works „Prora Sport“ and „Totilas I“. Furthermore, there are other collaborations being planned which of course will be surprises and available in our online shop Koenig-souvenir.com as well as in the gallery here in Berlin.

Photos: Jakob Blumenthal 

Portrait: Nick Leuze

IG: @goartberlin @koenig.souvenir @ignaz.de @nickleuze

GoArt! Art & Fashion Tours

Porträt Kollektiv Ignaz, Fashion Week
KSxIGNAZ
KSxIGNAZ
KSxIGNAZ

James Turrell at Jewish Museum Berlin

April 24, 2018

It is something special, to experience a light installation of James Turrell live and in color. Since April 12th, the Jewish Museum is showing the installation “Aural” – an original from 2004. The artwork will be exhibited till September 30th of 2019.

It was Dieter and Si Rosenkranz, an art collector couple, who made the gift of this artwork to the museum. “Aural” has never been shown in this way and is currently to be seen in a temporary building in the museum’s garden during the stated period of time.

The time that „Aural“ was exposed in Valencia, one could only see it bathed in the color blue. For the exposition in the Jewish Museum, James Turrell amplified the walk-in installation with new colors, where you can now experience one of his “Ganzfeld Pieces”[1](“a German word to describe the phenomenon of the total loss of depth perception as in the experience of a white-out”) with 13.000 single LEDs on over 200m² for the first time in Berlin.

[1]http://jamesturrell.com/work/type/ganzfeld/

James Turrell was born in 1943 in Los Angeles. As one of the most important contemporary artists, he dedicates all his work since over fifty years to the medium light. What matters most to Turrell in the examination of light, is the human perception of light. He aims to free the perception from any kind of associative and symbolic thinking.

In the end, what Turrell achieves with his “Perceptual Art”, as he himself describes it, is, that the perception itself becomes observed: “Seeing yourself see” is how James Turrell describes the experience of his Ganzfeld-installations. The “Aural” enables taking a look at the inside, as well as self-reflection and an almost trance-like state of observance.

During the press conference, program director Léontine Meijer-van Mensch gets to the heart of it: “You need to take your time for Turrell.”

At first, the eyes need to get used to the change of color and the dematerialized state of this room with no dimensions and contours. Essentially, this artwork offers the possibility of seeing the museum as a “place of deceleration”. Nowadays the idea of decelerating can become part

Considering the meaning of the “Aural” for the museum, Peter Schäfer, director of the Jewish Museum straightens out: “As any good artist, Turrell does not dictate how to interpret his work.”

In Judaism, the symbolism of light has a high significance: It stands for the presence of God and goes way back to the creative act. In the wilderness sanctuary, before the construction of the Jerusalem temple, there was always a burning light. Still today, there is always the burning “eternal flame” (Hebrew: ner tamid) in the synagogue beside the Torah Shrine.

Besides, Schäfer also refers to the kabbalah, Jewish mysticism.  Here, God is understood as an unrecognizable force at first – without beginning nor ending – who, initially appearing as a dark, colorless flame, becomes tangible and visible in the form of all the colors there are.

For those, who would like to see another although smaller Ganzfeld of James Turrell: You can do this at Museum Frieder Burda in Baden-Baden from June 9th till October 28th of 2018.

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Photos: Key visual portrait James Turrell, photo Grant Delin

Photos 2,4,5: James Turrell, Ganzfeld Aural, 2018; © Jewish Museum Berlin, photo Florian Holzherr

Tours + Travel 

Sigrid Neubert – Modern Architecture in Photography

March 28, 2018

Sigrid Neubert (*1927) is one of Germany’s most renowned architectural photographers. In the past six decades, she has produced aesthetic images of modern buildings and urban landscapes. Later, Neubert was also interested in nature photography while creating poetic, partly mystical imagery. A selection of works by Sigrid Neubert is currently on display in the Museum für Fotografie (Museum of Photography) of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin . The exhibition runs until June 3rd, 2018.

Miriam Bers talked to the two curators of the exhibition – the head of the photography collection of the Kunstbibliothek (Art Library) Dr. Ludger Derenthal, and the architect and art historian Dr. Frank Seehausen.

MB: Mr. Derenthal, according to which criteria do you create your program?

LD: In the Museum of Photography we present the whole history of this important visual medium from its beginning in the middle of the 19th century to the present day, often in thematic exhibitions and with works from our collection.

MB: How did the current cooperation with you and Frank Seehausen come about?

LD: We were very fortunate to have the opportunity to compile a representative selection from the comprehensive archive of Sigrid Neubert and incorporate the works into our collection. Therefore it was our aspiration to create an exhibition that involves her complete oeuvre – landscape and architectural photography. We curated the exhibition together: I was responsible for the nature part and Frank Seehausen, who also wrote the book about Sigrid Neubert’s architectural photography that will soon be published by Hirmer, took care of the architecture section.

MB: The current exhibition with works by Sigrid Neubert summarized in four keywords?

FS: The architectural photography is presented in four thematic chapters as the core of Neubert’s lifework with manifold references to her free work. We aim to encourage visitors to search for points of view, motives, similarities and differences. Archival material and, above all, architectural drawings make the dialogue between the photographer and the architects comprehensible.

LD: Talking about the landscape photography, two aspects are important to me: Sigrid Neubert has used photography both as a medium of expressing emotions as well as a medium for the development of a unique design vocabulary which together form a very instructive contrast.

MB: What do you think about the relationship between Sigrid Neubert’s architectural photography and the New Vision (Neues Sehen)? The press release also refers to 1950s American photography…

FS: In her architectural photography, Neubert has increasingly distanced herself from the US influences of the 1950s and gradually developed her own formal and content-related approach by carefully working out not only the plasticity of the buildings, but also the interaction of the buildings with the environment and its residents. In comparison, we also show works by Julius Shulman, who influenced Neubert in the 1950s.

MB: Architectural photography can be very elaborate. Which techniques did Sigrid Neubert apply? Did she work in a team?

FS: Neubert mostly worked on her own utilizing only a few facilities. For more than 30 years, she used a field camera and preferred to shoot in black and white on 9×12 glass negatives until the 1970s. This generated particularly high-contrast images in perfect technical quality. However, these harsh contrasts – that were characteristics of her work – were not only stylistic device but should also compensate the poor print quality of many architecture magazines. For Neubert it was important to enter an intensive dialogue with the buildings, which in a sense, she regarded as the representative of the architect’s personality.

MB: The current exhibition also includes landscape photography – atmospheric interpretations of the same – that the artist has focused on over the last few decades. How do you explain her dedication to nature?

LD: After many years of producing commission works for architects and magazines, Sigrid Neubert has created her own field of artistic impact. She has always worked in thematic categories, working on some topics for decades. This shows how intensively she has thought about the medium of photography and its possibilities.

MB: Last but not least a question to you, as the two curators of the exhibition: What kind of photography can be found in your living room?

LD: A lightbox with a black-and-white photograph of Reiner Leist showing the skyline of New York.

FS: An architectural photograph by Franz Lazi from Stuttgart produced in 1950.

Photos: © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Kunstbibliothek / Sigrid Neubert

Exhibition Info

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Art Night with Tracey Snelling

February 13, 2018

Miriam’s artist choice of the month

Tracey Snelling is an American contemporary artist working with photography, video, performance and installation. She was born in Oakland (California) and studied Fine Arts at the University of New Mexico. Her environments reflect architectural conditions and its sociological contextualization and allow a voyeuristic glimpse. In her large space filling architectures the viewers’ perception is of high significance. Playing within small and life size formats her ‘sculptures’ involve us getting testimonies of the current surrounding of the artists’ habitat in Berlin. Until April 2018, Snelling is holding a fellowship/studio at the internationally renowned artist residency Künstlerhaus Bethanien in the neighborhood Kreuzberg next to Kottbusser Tor. The Californian had exhibitions in international galleries and museums such as MAD New York, Royal Palace Milan, Königliches Museum der Schönen Künste Belgium and many others. In 2015 she has been awarded a Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters and Sculptors Grant. Art night: Miriam Bers met Tracey Snelling for an exclusive interview:

MB: Living in Berlin almost a year, do you feel integrated, part of the city? What does Berlin mean to you?

TS: I actually first moved to Berlin in February 2016, staying seven months and returning to Oakland. Upon returning, I realized I belonged back in Berlin. I came back to Berlin in April 2017 to complete a sculptural commission with the Historisches Museum Frankfurt and to explore more of Berlin. I do feel integrated into the city. One of the reasons I came back was because it feels like home, yet it’s also exciting and new to me. Berlin means freedom to me. Here, you can be who you really are, and no one gives a second look. Berliners have seen everything here, and I think because of that, they are more relaxed about differences.

MB: In your current show at Künstlerhaus Bethanien and your in life size arranged and romantically appealing ‘Living Room’ and ‘Bedroom’ wrestlers, a punk band and you being tattooed were protagonists in one of the performances held during your exhibition. Do you identify with, do you live in these contexts? Here Nan Goldin comes into my mind. Or is your work rather a conceptual one, kind of a sympathizing absorption of more or less marginalized groups? The models of your sculpted housings are social buildings next to Kottbusser Tor.

TS: A lot of the room contexts, objects, and performances are references from my life, with many of them from my teenage time. I first heard the band Hertzangst play last year in Wedding when the drummer (a friend of mine) invited me to a show. I loved them, and immediately had a picture in my head of them playing in one of my installations. As for the tattoo, I already have three but have been wanting a tiger tattoo for quite awhile, and I met the tattoo artist at a previous residency here in Berlin, ZKU. I do muay thai kickboxing, and incorporated boxing into the opening night and closing night performances. The rooms are homage to my past, my present, and also my fantasies.

MB: How did you find your artistic language, focused on architectural contexts, what does the relation between small size dwellings and life size spaces mean in your work?

TS: I started as a photographer, and would also mix mediums. I started a series of collages and had made one called 1881 Chestnut Street. It’s a brick apartment building with the front wall missing, so you could see all the rooms. This piece gave me the idea to make a small-scale house that was collaged. From here the work continued to grow organically, with video being added to it in 2004. The difference in scale is really interesting to me. The shifts in scale represent how reality is constantly shifting due to one’s perception.

MB: What are your habits, do you live in Berlin like you’d live in Oakland, your hometown?

TS: Here, I go out more! It feels much easier to get around town here. In Oakland, it oftens feels like a trek to get to San Francisco for an art night of openings. There’s also so much to do here.

MB: Which are the spots you like most in Berlin? Do you have a favorite place to eat, a cool bar to go out in the evening? Or do cook in your residency?

TS: I like Berlin in the summer the best (of course). When I lived in Wedding in 2016, I would ride my bike to Mauerpark Sunday mornings, eat something, shop a bit in the used section, and go back to my studio to work. I like the Humboldthain park, the crazy little shops on Karl-Marx Strasse, the Turkish market near the Bethanien. I love the Turkish food nearby–so much to choose from. I never get tired of lamb kabap.

MB: What will you do after your fellowship ends?

TS: I have a month-long residency in New Orleans, an exhibition back home, will visit family and friends, and come back to Berlin.

Tracey Snelling

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