1. For many years you’ve curated the annual summer show “Art & Friends” at Deutsches Haus at NYU. Which edition of the exhibition is this for you?
This is the 10th edition of the summer show that I am participating in, but there were two editions before I started teaching at DH.
I first participated in 2009. At that point, the team put the show on together as a group. The following year Katrin Roos and I took over as curators. In 2011, we changed the name to “Art&Friends” because some of the teachers left Deutsches Haus, others joined , and we also wanted to have more variation in the art works. The name changed allowed us to be more flexible with the artists we could support. From 2016 to 2018, I got support from Maila Akerberg, and this year I curated the show alone.
2. Do you focus on a specific theme or pattern in curating the show and selecting the included images and artists? What inspired you for this edition of “Art & Friends?”
In the beginning we just brought our works and arranged them according to the space. Together with Katrin, I started to look for other interesting artists. It was always a mix of art we liked and people we liked. In 2017 and 2018, we had a theme because of the collaboration with the Chelsea Music Festival, which turned out to be a great combination with our previous approach.
I enjoyed the studio visits immensely, even if I had to take a 4 hour bus ride. Going to studios and looking at art work and talking to artists got my brain going. The previous experience helped me find the “guiding thread” of this year’s curation faster than all the other years.
This year I wanted to show works mainly from some of my friends, but as the work came together, it became clear that this show was going to focus on portraiture – portraits of people, of trees, of objects, of cities, of landscapes and cityscapes.
3. How do each of the artists’ works compliment each other? Does one work inform another? Is there a dialogue to be had between some of these pieces? If not, then is each artist’s work meant to be viewed as separate mini-exhibitions in celebration of each artist’s unique style, expression, and accomplishments?
I chose the artworks in part because they seemed to naturally be “talking” to each other, in part because they were portraits of people, landscapes or cityscapes. I like to arrange the works in a (sometimes) loose narrative. Doug Eisenstark’s paintings of himself are about the self and the forces that are constantly sculpting us. Alexander Hahn shows an entire narrative about a real person in a real scene but then turns it into a fictitious scene. It is up to the viewer to decipher the flow of pictures – who is that person? What is happening?
Painted portraits are presented through Silvelin von Scanzoni with “Alice,” a very recent work, the model of which was present for the opening- how wonderful!- and a portrait of her mother, very ethereal, almost otherworldly. Those then lead to the “Invisible paintings” by Bruno Jakob. Here we enter a special sphere, the energy emanating from the painting process still lingering. From there it is a short step to Hans Witschi’s “friendly ghosts,” happily talking to the visitor of other worlds, or to the images coming out of the brush. The feelings they evoke then carry the viewer over to the portraits of ethereally lit cherry trees by Jon Dee.
But yes, every group can be seen as a little cosmos in itself, like the narrative of Alexander Hahn’s “RR enters a Gallery and .. a likeness of herself”, where facts meet fiction, or Kay Hines’ Video about Rome.
4. What stands out to you in this edition of “Art & Friends?” Do you have any pieces (either yours or your colleagues’) that you would like to contextualize or discuss further?
I have no favorites, each artist is unique in his or her work. About context: on the ground floor, Kay Hines’ video shows a very intense and multilayered portrait to the city of Rome, of art history, all in combination with personal impressions. Therese Balduzzi’s photos are very different from the video, but they also tell a story about a cityscape. We get a wide range of city impressions in this exhibit.
5. Could you explain why photography is your preferred medium? What do you want to express with your photographs? What do you feel when you look at them in the context of your curation?
Photography works for me – I love details, special atmospheres, signs of the past or the passing of time. I am not creating new visions in photoshop. I am more intrigued by forgotten and overlooked things i.e. metal scraps or the details of a damaged AC. They are part of this metropolitan lifestyle of using things and then throwing them away. There is beauty found in everyday objects, in the normal, the hidden, or the faded things like old, barely visible ads painted on walls.
6. This year’s turnout was truly incredible. What were some of the feelings you had during the opening?
I was overwhelmed and incredibly happy, especially for all the artists. It is so rewarding when an exhibition draws an audience! It was also very touching to see a lot of friends coming together for each other, especially since it was my last exhibition! Mostly, I felt very grateful for getting this opportunity from Deutsches Haus, putting up shows without conditions. I learned a lot in these past 10 years. I didn’t know in the beginning that curating was in the stars for me ;) – and I really love it! Thanks to Deutsches Haus, I discovered a new side to my art as well as a new connection to art in general.
7. Would you like to talk about any upcoming projects (either yours or your colleague’s)?
All I know is that I will be continuing with photography. For now, I don’t have a specific project. I have to stumble upon something because I am not good with project work – I feel too confined, boxed in. I will go out, walk around the city, take photos of everything that catches my eye, and then see what happens!