Category Archives: artists

Artist Spotlight: Vernon O´Meally


The New York based artist Vernon O’Meally has always tried to express himself through art in an abstract way. At the tender young age of 7, Vernon started trying to represent his universe through the medium of paint, . At first, his works were photorealistic, then abstract. Now, they oscillate between figurative and organic forms. However, his abstract visual representations will not remain his only philosopher’s stone until he crosses the road of rock music. 

Psychedelic art, the turning point for Vernon. 


“I started to get into psychedelic rock-n-roll…, I have been inspired by the journey to that music


Music has a great impact on the development of Vernon’s practice, and is an integral part of his artistic journey. He expresses himself through the combination of music and painting. Since he became interested in psychedelic rock music, his practice has largely been shaped by it. He feels that only music can truly make you feel like you are on a voyage. Vernon is fascinated by psychedelia in general, and in particular the artistic and philosophical ideas that are associated with it. Throughout his psychedelic journey, he has been curating albums of Rock‘n’Roll music of the 60’s and 70’s, which he listens to whilst creating new work.


Working with different representational means throughout his time at PILOTENKUECHE, Vernon has been exploring unlimited possibilities from hallucinatory illusion-making to comic representation in his studio practice. Currently, he primarily layers graphic elements and mixes them with figurative images taken from popular culture. There is a recurrence of rainbows, cartoons, geometric shapes and the metamorphoses of forms. Characteristic for his practice is the constant impulse to experiment and to reinvent.

The impressive torrent of visual effects of Vernon’s studio paintings shows his rich artistic vision.

Impactful, loud colour combinations and bold lines create a feeling of immediate accessibility. They let the audience dive into the artist’s artistic universe, and create a spectrum of sensations that can be felt in the presence of his paintings. Back in New York, Vernon has worked on several commissions: he has been creating designs for cars, walls, buildings and also private spaces. 

Now, Vernon is at a turning point in his career. He is more and more interested in studying cartoon characters. Recently, he integrated the ghost character “Minnie the Moocher” into one of his paintings. Vernon describes his experience here as rewarding and equally profound.

Vernon is a fabulous painter, he constantly creates visual images that invite us to push our thinking beyond our limits. In his studio, he has developed inspiring and pervasive images.

written by Stanley Louis


HUNGRY DUNGEON FRIENDS

vernissage: 
Saturday 17 August 
7PM-10PM

open: 
Sunday 18 August – Sunday 1 September 
10AM-6PM (closed Mondays)
location:
Kunstkraftwerk
Saalfelder Str. 8
04179 Leipzig

GRATEFUL PARK

vernissage:
Friday 20 September
7PM-11PM

performances:
19.30-20.00
Tom Austin
20.15- 21.45
Adam Tuch
21.00-22.00
LIS 
(Simon Schafer, Lasha White and Izabella Kaldunska)
https://soundcloud.com/lis_leipzig/sets/amok-2019…

vernissage: 
Friday 20 September
7PM-11PM
performances by:
Darien Crossley
Adam Tuch
Tom Austin


open: 
Saturday 21 September – Monday 23 September
1PM-5PM 
location:
PILOTENKUECHE International Art Program
Franz-Flemming-Straße 9


Artist Spotlight: Simon Schäfer

Humanity is over!

It may be fun for some of us, but it’s still scary, and in addition, it is true that the extinction of the Holocene is happening now. No one can ignore that human activity in recent decades is responsible for such crime. This is what Simon Schäfer, the German based artist, tells us in his studio.

It is clear, the extinction of each species potentially leads to the extinction of other species related to this species in a complex ecological network, but human behavior and current policies do not worry about this dark and meaningless future. We need a new way of thinking and acting. As an artist, I am deeply concerned with those issues, although I feel that we are about to dive more and more, we are straight to disaster! 

After a difficult period of depression, Simon decided to leave his couch, turn off the tv and to start asking the thorny question of the future of art within this miserly and unscrupulous society. How can art help us to abolish the lack of humanity and the multiplication of men’s vices?

Having been studying and living in London, “recuperation” is at the heart of Simon’s practice and very much evident in the media he uses to express himself. He collects old phones, cables, radios and other electronic materials, transforming and altering the ready made.

Simon express his art in different mediums. He started with sculpture before he turned to music. He developed a relationship with some instruments that he played like drums and guitar back in 2001.

Simon’s technique  involves electronics, it is his particular modus operandi.

Simon opens up electronic instruments and poke around the board to see what happens and try to get what we do not usually get. This practice has become his principal one for over 18 years. He creates sounds through circuit bending. One of his musical devices is an old landline phone through which we can hear sounds similar to a multi effect guitar. Simon loops the noises and creates musical pieces. The viewer feels the energy and vibration experienced by the artist. It is a sound that is able to awaken the human conscience.


Dazzled by the possibilities offered by this technique with electronic devices, Simon tries to transform old object into something new, giving them a second life, and almost letting us forget their previous purpose. He endows them with a soul and an astonishing power. It is the emptiness of humanity that he tries to fill from every piece, every sculpture and every performance.


An artist cannot take away from reality!


While it is clear that the art market continues to have the wind in its sails, the artist, meanwhile, thinks it is a sad reality. The art world has become too linear, it is only a market for capital investment!  A sad reality!

Simon claims that he doesn’t need that business market value. What is important today, according to him, is human dignity. I want the other feeling! What do I see as an artist? What do I do, why do I do it? The most important thing an artist is supposed to give a small push to think differently.

written by Stanley Louis


HUNGRY DUNGEON FRIENDS

vernissage: 
Saturday 17 August 
7PM-10PM

open: 
Sunday 18 August – Sunday 1 September 
10AM-6PM (closed Mondays)
location:
Kunstkraftwerk
Saalfelder Str. 8
04179 Leipzig

GRATEFUL PARK

vernissage:
Friday 20 September
7PM-11PM

performances:
19.30-20.00
Tom Austin
20.15- 21.45
Adam Tuch
21.00-22.00
LIS 
(Simon Schafer, Lasha White and Izabella Kaldunska)
https://soundcloud.com/lis_leipzig/sets/amok-2019…

vernissage: 
Friday 20 September
7PM-11PM
performances by:
Darien Crossley
Adam Tuch
Tom Austin


open: 
Saturday 21 September – Monday 23 September
1PM-5PM 
location:
PILOTENKUECHE International Art Program
Franz-Flemming-Straße 9

Artist Spotlight: Ariel Taylor

Realistic and magical, the illustration of Ariel tells the stories of modern fairy-tale. As a little girl, she was lured by the landscape and fantasy of Hayao Miyazaki’s animation “Spirited Away.” She has always admired the charming forests and landscape of her hometown Athens, Ohio. With the desire of creating stories to draw people into nature and to remind us that there’s still magic, she set herself on the quest of story-telling as a print-maker.

Unfortunately, Her beloved land Ohio was then destroyed by fracking. The concern for the environment brought her to her first big project which she wrote a fairy-tale of a heroine fighting against the evil force that is wiping out the forest. “I realised through illustrating, I can tell it in a way that is not as confrontational as other forms, like activism. I did protest, but I feel that when you show it less ‘in-your-face,’ people are more willing to accept it.”

Magic and fantasy are in her blood. Last year, she went on a genealogy trip to Scotland – the land of mythical legends and medieval tales, of burning witches and Arthur’s Seat. She found out her family is related to Robert the Bruce, the King of Scotland during early 14th century, who famously fought in the First War of Scottish Independence. This journey of ancestral discovery, with her fondness of the animation “The Secret of Bells” resulted in a series of illustration with Celtic ambient.

Her latest work at the residency was inspired by her recent trip to Southeast Asia, including three paintings and a linocut print and embroidery textile piece. She gradually shifts print-making to painting for its accessibility being on the road. The paintings, titled in “The Discovery,” “The Danger” and “The Explorer,” present a Thai Arch, a tiger and a young lady, respectively. The feature of the young lady was borrowed from the figure of one of the Joan of Arc statues. She explained that Angkor Wat was said to be explored by a French naturalist who stumbled onto the land. However, the story-told is a Christopher Columbus sort which shows the discovery of European invaders rather than the portrayal of what had been happening already long before the intrusion. “I would like the culture which actually made the effort to create this thing to be given credit.”

The discovery comes along with the damage of relics and ecology. She talked of the missing reliefs, such as the head of a Garuda that was chiseled off in order to be sold in the black markets. During her trip, she was not able to visit Maya Bay in Thailand – made famous by 2000 film “The Beach” – as the officials decided to close it until 2021 for ecology recovery from severe environment destruction by tourism. Just like the early fairy tales of Hans Christian Anderson and The Grimm Brothers, there are dark elements in her magical stories. In her modern fairy-tales lies the timeless question of all fantasy: What does it cost to get the prince? What do you sacrifice to realize the dream?

Written by Huai-ya Lin



HUNGRY DUNGEON FRIENDS

vernissage: 
Saturday 17 August 
7PM-10PM

open: 
Sunday 18 August – Sunday 1 September 
10AM-6PM (closed Mondays)
location:
Kunstkraftwerk
Saalfelder Str. 8
04179 Leipzig

GRATEFUL PARK

vernissage: 
Friday 20 September
7PM-11PM
performances by:
Darien Crossley
Adam Tuch
Tom Austin


open: 
Saturday 21 September – Monday 23 September
1PM-5PM 
location:
PILOTENKUECHE International Art Program
Franz-Flemming-Straße 9

Artist spotlight: Matthias Geisler

“I consider myself an observer with alchemical tendencies”

Matthias Geisler has long been watching the versatility of the digital world with fascination. He works with the interaction between graphics and digital media. He wants to discover the archetypal surface that hides behind an image and make it visible. He selects and extracts the digital images that captivate him and transforms the incomprehensible as an abstract entity into intricate images or re-creates it as poetic impressions and figures.

Through the process of analyzing, modifying and deforming, the results are complex drawings in which subjective visions of reality are revealed. His daily experiences are condensed into the final outcome. He says, “The surfaces of the digital world raise in me the question of how order and chaos are determined.”

Sometimes he simulates the typical loop of digital space to repeatedly draw images with seemingly imperceptible differences. As in the serie called Krater: these are graphite drawings of images taken by NASA and ESA space probes. They are patterns with the different layers of repetition, structure and quality in which he examines the complexity of the space. Currently a source of inspiration are the pictures of the space by the German photographer Thomas Ruff in which he also reinterprets the digital images.

In addition to the spatial dimension, Matthias is fascinated by caves. Both are silent places that invite reflection on the meaning of existence. He draws his caves as mystical places. Starting from a figurative idea, he then follows their rhythm until he breaks away from reality. They are deliberate reminiscences of digital, electronically generated images. In the series of drawings Pause the cave reveals itself in the geometric and symmetric surfaces.

This work of research and transformation is associated with literal reflections. Each year he fills one notebook with interesting combinations of reasoned texts and drawings or quick sketches. Sometimes they are poetic compositions, ironic comics or long poems.

Matthias’s education started with the study of naturalistic design. He then he left it to find his own personal language closer to his interior world. When he draws, he starts with decorative lines or fluid forms. From abstract, figures and stories emerge.

He has a similar approach when creating his videos. From digital textures that form psychedelic and otherworldly environments, he tells stories of men who discover imaginary places and create human relationships. It is as if one of his drawings of an imaginative parallel world have come to life in his most recent short film.

Matthias says, “The digital is a non-place, a space without any dimension. Distance and time play no role, just like in the inner world, introspection or better said, the world of inner occupation. Man is still free in thought.”

The constant oscillation between understanding, searching as studying and creating is an expression of intent to discover mythical and mystical aspects of reality.

Written by Silvia Zandomeneghi


HUNGRY DUNGEON FRIENDS

vernissage: 
Saturday 17 August 
7PM-10PM

open: 
Sunday 18 August – Sunday 1 September 
10AM-6PM (closed Mondays)
location:
Kunstkraftwerk
Saalfelder Str. 8
04179 Leipzig

GRATEFUL PARK

vernissage: 
Friday 20 September
7PM-11PM
performances by:
Darien Crossley
Adam Tuch
Tom Austin


open: 
Saturday 21 September – Monday 23 September
1PM-5PM 
location:
PILOTENKUECHE International Art Program
Franz-Flemming-Straße 9


Artist Spotlight: Darien Crossley

Drawing is like therapy for Darien Crossley. She expresses herself through pen and ink. With her meticulous technique she patiently draws dense lines. She gives shape to outlandish figures with abstract features. They are mainly feminine, and Darien focuses on their distorted features: sometimes they are not fully formed, they lack bodyparts or have too many. Bodyparts separate or unite. Bodies that stretch and expand.

“I focus on the emotions I feel, on the physical presence in my body and I try to express them”.

Drawing is a meditative practice. The viewer can feel this introspective aspect, equally identifying themselves with the illustration and making them their own. Everyone has a dark side, and as Darien says, “I hope the spectators can benefit from my drawings and understand that they are not alone”.

Her drawings have the simplicity and lightness of cartoons, but mysterious at the same time. The darkness appears in her dreams. Sometimes her subconscious is expressed in the most absurd ways, and this is another source of inspiration for her stories. Initially she was keeping an illustrated dream journal. Later she experimented with other media.

After using watercolors she returned to black and white for her latest work called ‘Good Spirits’.Darien is fascinated by the idea of the presence of ancient spirits around us. Good spirits that make our existence on earth magical and more interesting. She is of the opinion that although we do not know how to interact with spirtis, they must be respected.

To find a better understanding of Darien’s work we might need to look at the contemporary Japanese performance Butoh. Darien explains, “Living in Asheville, a little town in North Carolina which is a quite conservative state, I learned that there are very few Butoh instructors in America. And one was teaching in a studio two doors over from were I was working!”

Thanks to the coincidence, Darien’s art work closely connects with the Japanese culture. The restlessness, the strangeness, the focus on the naked bodies can all be found in this mixture of dance, theatre and improvisation. Like Butoh her art work can be defined in many ways: physical, spiritual, cathartic, liberating.

Currently at Pilotenkuche, Darien is working on a sort of personal diary, similar to comics. In one of her drawings deals with the feeling of being outside of a social group and suddently sinking into a thousand layers. There is always the balance between comic and darkness, almost oscillating between the two sides of the being. How will it be interpreted by observers? Which side of theor existence will it emphasise?

It is a continuous investigation of herself and her body. Darien is also a tattoo artist and her figures are engraved on her skin as a clear symbol of identification. But there is another unexpected side to Darien. she also works as a songwriter. She plays different instruments and accompanies them with a delicate voice. Melancholy is likely to be read through the lyrics and the notes of her electronic folk music. She will be performing at the Grateful Park vernissage on 20 September.

written by Silvia Zandomeneghi

https://soundcloud.com/nightmarketofspirits/golden-hammer

HUNGRY DUNGEON FRIENDS

vernissage: 
Saturday 17 August 
7PM-10PM

open: 
Sunday 18 August – Sunday 1 September 
10AM-6PM (closed Mondays)
location:
Kunstkraftwerk
Saalfelder Str. 8
04179 Leipzig

GRATEFUL PARK

vernissage: 
Friday 20 September
7PM-11PM
performances by:
Darien Crossley
Adam Tuch
Tom Austin


open: 
Saturday 21 September – Monday 23 September
1PM-5PM 
location:
PILOTENKUECHE International Art Program
Franz-Flemming-Straße 9

Artist spotlight: Clement Bedel

French artist Clement Bedel transports us into an oneiric space and time. He does it through the vivid realism of his enormous painted canvases. The environments, in which spectators feel immersed, oscillate between the real and the fantastic.

The world he represents is a sort of hybrid. These places invites us to reflect on the direction the earth is going: from the indifference to war refugees, to the carelessness towards the overconsumption, the environmental disasters and the consequent climate change.

Clement began his artistic career making videos and installations. Only in recent years, after moving to Serbia, he began to paint. His interest was born with the admiration for Max Ernst’s surrealism.

As in a dream in which we can’t run, his figures seem trapped in a melancholy context. He explained: “The occupants of these landscapes are, in their German romantic passivity, the recipient of the Weltschmertz, the word used to express the feeling of one carrying on himself the weight of the world”. The figures are often lonely; they are impersonal, faceless and could be identified with anyone.

The architecture he paints does not have a logical, structural sense. The environments are upside down and also work if we look at the painting in reverse. The water gushes from undefined sides and it is not clear where we are. There is not a central point of attention, but our gaze runs from one side to the other because of the peculiar perspective.

For the series of paintings he started visiting and taking pictures of abandoned factories. From this material he developed his imagination in compositions of various elements. Today he is excited about working in the space of Pilotenkueche, which was also a factory in the past.

His first painting was darker and gloomy, people were dying. While the last series called Shimmering through reality is more ironic and cynical, there are bright, strong colors and fluid movements, as in the painting with the multicolor swirl symbolize the amount of plastic in the ocean.

The abundance of nature is the personification of light in constant fight with destruction. The nature in his paintings is the metaphor of an anchor of survival. Will the human be able to take care of its precious resources?

Clement does not want to do something dramatic or depressing; this is not a dystopian view of the world. It is certainly the end of an era, but with nature constantly reborn. Nature remains alive as well as human constructions: he considered both strong elements.

This project of painting is constantly evolving and changing according to what he sees and the news he is reading. In his new series, started at Pilotenkueche, he paints the new symbolic element of the agave: it grows strong and resistant without the need for excessive water and invests all the energy in its flower, but after two months it dies. This flower is the metaphor of the point where humanity arrived today. We have grown very quickly, taking all nature’s energy, but we are running out of resources. We are destroying what gives us life.

written by Silvia Zandomeneghi


See Clement’s work in the upcoming exhibitions

HUNGRY DUNGEON FRIENDS

vernissage: 
Saturday 17 August 
7PM-10PM

open: 
Sunday 18 August – Sunday 1 September 
10AM-6PM (closed Mondays)
location:
Kunstkraftwerk
Saalfelder Str. 8
04179 Leipzig

GRATEFUL PARK

vernissage: 
Friday 20 September
7PM-11PM
open: 
Saturday 21 September – Monday 23 September
1PM-5PM 
location:
PILOTENKUECHE International Art Program
Franz-Flemming-Straße 9


Artist spotlight: Zheng Wenxin

Zheng Wenxin’s work is comparable to an archaeologist who rediscovers, documents and studies the moments shared by her friends on social media. The action of painting is useful for her to interpret and convey the feelings she has with the virtual space: too flat and vast. In fact, this ‘reality’ very often gives us a wrong and hasty perception, a lot of information is veiled or completely obscured.

She transfers the rapid flow of events on scroll with an abstract style as if to capture that moment. Her long carpet of colors is a concentration of emotions perhaps already forgotten by those who have made them public on the Chinese platform WeChat.

She has always focused on the psychology of the individual throughout the years of her artistic practice. What interests her today is the extraordinary speed with which technology in China is growing from year to year. The quantity of images available to us has made this instrument the new source of inspiration; as she says: “This is another kind of painting still life”. This is the contemporaneity that she is living and she is conscious that all this can change within a few years.

The artist chooses one single day, takes only the date and place of the post and paints everything she sees without preferences: most of the photos she encounters are selfies. And it is through this randomness that she realizes the labile distinction between what is private and public in the life of her friends. Sometimes the images she paints are very intimate scenes of the individual. On the artist’s part there is a suspension of judgment. She does not deliver a criticism but a desire to restore that tension between what we see and what we think we see.

Her brushstrokes do not want to faithfully represent all she sees; it is almost impossible for the viewers to reconstruct a direct connection with the photos or to trace the source because she only captures the sensations, the words, the perception of the colors. The figures in the paintings look like silhouettes. They are distorted. They are like masks.

It is a combination of fields of colors and geometric lines, almost cubist, that create a continuous flow. This is effective for returning the typical noise and fragments of social media. The two-dimensionality is also an aspect that she takes back from the mobile screen, and for this paradoxically she can be considered a realistic artist. The titles of her art work, which are coordinates of the place where the posts are published, can be cryptically a key to enter works.

The pictorial composition is a set of images apparently disconnected but must be grasped as a film of confused memories, like a dreamlike video of images.

With the Pilotenkueche project she has adopted – not only the scroll – but also a new experiment in materials: a series of small square alluminum plates portraying the rapid life stories.

The difficult challenge for Zheng Wenxin is to transmit these new social relationships with the ‘old’ artistic medium of painting.

written by Silvia Zandomeneghi


See Wenxin’s work in the upcoming exhibitions

HUNGRY DUNGEON FRIENDS

vernissage: 
Saturday 17 August 
7PM-10PM

open: 
Sunday 18 August – Sunday 1 September 
10AM-6PM (closed Mondays)
location:
Kunstkraftwerk
Saalfelder Str. 8
04179 Leipzig

GRATEFUL PARK

vernissage: 
Friday 20 September
7PM-11PM
open: 
Saturday 21 September – Monday 23 September
1PM-5PM 
location:
PILOTENKUECHE International Art Program
Franz-Flemming-Straße 9

Artist Spotlight: Zara June Williams

Life is like a game. The Australian artist Zara June Williams explores the unexpected and the intuitive of the creative process. Approaches such as combining different individual paintings and interacting with remain marks and droplets of the paint allow her to view the familiarity with a new lens. She invents rules for her art-making and stays playful with the colours and forms. Her art practice seemingly parallels to the nature of life as a game, where we developed regulations and strategies, and laboriously invest ourselves into it.

“Sometimes I get so caught up in the complexity of it all that it ends up seeming like nothing. That’s how I feel about being alive in general. It’s everything, but it’s meaningless.”

Zara’s paintings come across as a game of vertigo and chance. Roger Caillois introduced the four elements of game in his 1958 Man, Play and Games (Les Jeux et Les Hommes): Agon, Alea, Mimicry and Ilinx, which means competition, chance, simulation and vertigo respectively. Intrigued by the remains of the process, she lies down papers beneath her paintings to catch the drops. “I guess I speak a lot about chance.” Often she wonders whether it is the unintended trace or her paintings are the actual work. “I think the interest came from questioning the ego and control. I found I was no longer satisfied with outcomes that I could easily anticipate.” 

To add the unpredictable quality into her work, she sets up certain parameters and games. For example, she took a cluster of wooden frames found on street which resonance Jose Dávila’s “Homage to the Square,” and lands it randomly on the surface. She then paints between the edges of the frames and repeats the process of interacting with the unintended composition of structures.”It is like I allow someone else to do something that I have to respond to.” Zara is meanwhile interested in working with found materials which already come with a character she can react to.

Her captivation of inviting chance to interfere with the work rises from the desire for the sense of an instant novelty. Ilinx,the Greek word for “whirlpool,” means the alteration of recognition, which Caillois defined as “an attempt to momentarily destroy the stability of perception.” “Assemblages is another way I can surprise myself from the outcome.” She cuts her paintings into half and plays around by putting different pieces together. “Cutting and reassembling works allows new and complete images to form instantaneously. There is a freshness to this method that I enjoy.” 

During the residency, Zara has started to experiment with integrating photography and painting. She takes pictures of her works, collages them in photoshop, and then transfers the resulting image on another painting. “Photography is potentially another tool I can use to accumulate information to the point of collapse. Finding ways to digest chaos created by my own doing is an ongoing challenge.” 

Written by Huai-ya Lin


See Zara’s work in the upcoming exhibitions

HUNGRY DUNGEON FRIENDS

vernissage: 
Saturday 17 August 
7PM-10PM

open: 
Sunday 18 August – Sunday 1 September 
10AM-6PM (closed Mondays)
location:
Kunstkraftwerk
Saalfelder Str. 8
04179 Leipzig

GRATEFUL PARK

vernissage: 
Friday 20 September
7PM-11PM
open: 
Saturday 21 September – Monday 23 September
1PM-5PM 
location:
PILOTENKUECHE International Art Program
Franz-Flemming-Straße 9


Artist Spotlight: Antonia Wetzel

Antonia Wetzel is a storyteller. The floor of her Pilotenkueche studio is covered with huge sheets of paper, and each of them bears a narrative. Some of them are written statements with bold, black letters covering a whole page, while the others are mainly large scale comics. Although they are all separate and conclusive in themselves, as a whole they build a cohesive braiding of sentiments and stories. 

‘Comics are a way for me to bring the most important information of a whole storyline into just one painting’, Antonia says. Constantly adding new paintings to the paper stacks, she has created an ever expanding sketchbook on concrete floor. The existing parts being perpetually and haphazardly juxtaposed with more recent material, and thus constantly gain new meaning.

‘Sexuality plays a huge role in each of my works –  and obviously shame’, Antonia explains. This involvement with sexuality and shame is almost abidingly present throughout her practice: Often based on Antonia’s own experience, her works exhibit situations associated with the emergence of shame and the feeling of being exposed in a sexual context. The chosen role as the exhibitionist is a liberating one, offering the protagonists the opportunity to escape vulnerability and to retrieve their dignity through regaining a position of power. 

There is an aggression in the act of the unmasking, a brutality in the bluntness of her words, yet there is wit. One of the paintings on the floor depicts the artist as an old woman in a chair, holding a young man in her lap. Both of them are naked. It is Antonia’s cynical answer to the sexist lifestyle promoted in many of Charles Bukowski’s pieces. The artist’s humorous approach makes the said appear even more incisive, simultaneously it acts as a medicine soothing the wounds of both beholder and originator.


For the Pilotenkueche exhibition at Kunstkraftwerk, Antonia embraces a new medium: performance. Her interactive piece, ‘Fuck an Artist’. urges the spectator to actively engage with the theme through writing their fantasies on postcards inscribed with the question ‘What do you want to do to me?’. These will then be put in a glass box, exposed to everyone. The content of the notes will eventually be reflected upon in a performance by the artist herself, who will be present during the entire process. Deliberately objectivising herself whilst maintaining ascendancy through the exposure of her subject, she generates an ambiguous mechanism, a power dynamic run by mutual dependence. 

As part of the exhibition, Antonia will also hand out ‘Hurenpaesse’ to visitors. ‘Whore passports’ are issued to sex workers by the German government. They are a crass example of the stigmatisation sex workers have to face in a hypocritical system that protects the industry’s customers, but leaves the providers exposed. The passports will feature a real phone number which can be used to make an appointment with the artist. 

‘I can get away with calling it art, but a real sex worker does not have the same freedom. In this space of it being a performance and me being an artist I can sell sex if I want to, but a real sex worker will face a lot more difficulties and that is the point I want to make. Certain people get a lot of freedom because of the circles they are living in and in what context they are doing things, and then others live other stigmas and labels and don’t have the same freedom.’

There are many myths evolving around sex work, though the narratives have largely been woven by men. With contemporary society stagnating on a platform of ‘acceptable disparity’ whilst cherishing the illusion of gender equality, Antonia’s work is now as relevant as ever.

written by Fiona Irene Graf


See Antonia’s work in the upcoming exhibitions

HUNGRY DUNGEON FRIENDS

vernissage: 
Saturday 17 August 
7PM-10PM

Performances: 
Isaac Magner and Agathe Barre
Antonia Wetzel
Tom Austin 
Simon Schäfer

Saturday 24 August
Performances: 
Isaac Magner and Agathe Barre
Antonia Wetzel
Tom Austin 

open: 
Sunday 18 August – Sunday 1 September 
10AM-6PM (closed Mondays)
location:
Kunstkraftwerk
Saalfelder Str. 8
04179 Leipzig

GRATEFUL PARK

vernissage: 
Friday 20 September
7PM-11PM
open: 
Saturday 21 September – Monday 23 September
1PM-5PM 
location:
PILOTENKUECHE International Art Program
Franz-Flemming-Straße 9

Artist Spotlight: Tom Austin

A year of working in London’s most prestigious galleries left Tom Austin unimpressed, unsatisfied and empty. When he arrived at Pilotenküche the beginning of June, he didn’t know if he wanted to make art anymore. The sometimes self-serving, complacent aspects of the art industry, led the artist to question the long-established hierarchies within it, and their impact on the process of art-making and on society itself. In order to gain distance and dissociate with the world he had been disappointed with, Tom left. He spent 6 months working on farms and volunteering.

‘Pilotenkueche is a cool chance to re-engage with art’, he says. ‘I am trying to find a new sense for art making: I really struggle with the why at the moment.’ He is currently looking for ways to create art which help empower himself and other people.

With the effects of the climate crisis being more vigorously and immediately noticeable than ever, Tom’s most recent practice is largely focusing on the interconnectedness between the anthropogenic destruction of the planet, the existing global power structures and the entrenched elitism of our national institutions, and correlatively on the way cultures are shaped and altered by these entities. 

Earlier this year, Tom held a 45 minute-long lecture in The Hague, generating a long overdue debate around the matter. The artist argued that the gallery world helps sustain the status quo: ‘It’s designed to stop us from thinking outside the box, to put us in our place, and it is run by elites who want to keep things the same. It is actually stopping us from taking any actions on climate change.’ 

The lecture thematised the growing use of fossil fuels in the 18th and 19th century, and the environmental, societal and cultural changes that came with it. It spurred the development of colonialism and the propagation of exploitative working ethics, culminating in an immoral extractivist system that is still in place today.

With the leading economies still nestled in the colonialist mindset of the past, they continue to exert their dominance and expropriate the world’s poorest nations of their natural resources. Tom highlights that the idea of superiority, of territorial and cultural hegemony over other humans, stems from the radical rationalist thought of the Enlightenment Era, the concept of man’s sublime position above flora and fauna finds itself manifested in the bible. 

Despite the destructive ramifications of energy extraction through fossil fuels, the artworld gained phenomenally from it and this has altered the course of art history. The invention of the steamship made travel and trade easier and faster and gave artists the opportunity to access the unknown. Paul Gauguin spent ten years in French Polynesia, his paintings from that time made him famous and became a vital influence for Symbolist and Expressionist art. Emil Nolde painted in New Guinea, Van Gogh developed his love for Japanese prints, Picasso’s African Period greatly informed his cubist work. Tom’s attempt to find a holistic understanding of these complexities in their entirety, is evident throughout his most recent practice: connecting all the dots on a diagram, a written performance on the wall. 

With his practice emphasising on performative art, Tom is currently developing ideas for a performance for the Pilotenkueche Exhibition at Kunstkraftwerk. He is creating a paper maché flower, which will be used as a prop. Props, masks and costumes find frequent usage in Tom’s performances and videos. They act as tools, as connecting points between him and the idea, never as character- defining elements that determine the narrative. 

‘Circle of Life’, one of Tom’s more recent works, is a slowly progressing, organically moving piece in which Tom playfully engages with seemingly random objects like oranges, a basketball and several domestic items like a tablecloth, a CD-player and a juicer. These objects evoke connotations to mundane phenomena: breakfast TV, school outings, shopping channels. Tom’s interaction with them bespeaks a humorous, zeitgeisty language. Yet, Tom’s work is a far cry from being a mockery. Instead, it is a testimony of Tom’s dissatisfaction, a protest transmitted with an almost tragic, clownlike seriousness, a demonstration revealing to us our derelictions in a time of drastic change.

written by Fiona Irene Graf


See Tom’s work in the upcoming exhibitions

HUNGRY DUNGEON FRIENDS

vernissage: 
Saturday 17 August 
7PM-10PM

Performances:
Isaac Magner and Agathe Barre
Antonia Wetzel
Tom Austin
Simon Schäfer

Saturday 24 August
Performances:
Isaac Magner and Agathe Barre
Antonia Wetzel
Tom Austin

open: 
Sunday 18 August – Sunday 1 September 
10AM-6PM (closed Mondays)
location:
Kunstkraftwerk
Saalfelder Str. 8
04179 Leipzig

GRATEFUL PARK

vernissage: 
Friday 20 September
7PM-11PM
open: 
Saturday 21 September – Monday 23 September
1PM-5PM 
location:
PILOTENKUECHE International Art Program
Franz-Flemming-Straße 9