Category Archives: artists

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 think there’s so many aspects that are very complicated, but then it also is 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 feeling too egotistical or too controlled. A lot of it came out of not being satisfied about the outcome, because I can anticipate about it too much.”

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’s almost like someone else in the room doing something when I’m not looking and I have to respond to it.” 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. “Just by the act of joining two sides together, I instantly see a complete image that is complicated, which I haven’t seen it gradually worked up. There’s a freshness of it 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. “I don’t think of it as photography, but more of a way to create enough information – information I have that is too much, it needs to be collapsed upon each other and find its ways to happen in an organically and aesthetic pleasing way.”

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

Artist Spotlight: Michella Perera

Sri Lankan born Irish artist Michella Perera explores the edgy co-dependent relationship between the fictional representation of a culture and the tourist industry. Under the radiant traditional garments and embroideries lie the fetishization and mystification of oriental tourism in Western ideology. The fascination of “the exotic” generates the mythical portrayal within their understandings and preconception. The resulting image and objects that signify the culture become icons in which the original context and historical value are reduced. She stated that the phenomenon ironically juxtaposes the belief of cultural tourism: to acquire knowledge and appreciation of another country through traveling. Tourism is however based on the attraction of the mystified and the fetishized, and highly depends on it. The bewitched process is thus inescapable.

Michella Perera is intrigued by the absurdity within touristic behaviour. “I am interested in shrines,” she says, referencing the particular space where we place items which we have collected from our vacations. The arrangements of her made objects, as if displayed on a shrine, are in flamboyant colours. “There is this expected vibrancy of tourism…. People expected to see colours, but also they tend to dress ‘on-holiday’ with all the colours on them.” In addition, she pointed out the “I’ve been there, I know” attitude, while much knowledge is in fact a generalization or built from preconception. “I got a lot of people saying ‘Namaste’ to me. I don’t speak Hindi, I learn Sinhalese.”

Born in Sri Lanka and having moved to Ireland at the age of ten, she is also on the quest of self-discovery through tourism and binary cultural discomfiture. Confrontations with the sense of in-and-out not only appear in geographical context but also in her own cultural identity. Her appearance is distinctively different from those in Ireland, and at Sri Lanka her posture is clearly one of the tourists. “In Sri Lanka, I don’t particularly read Sinhalese well, so then I have this feeling that you are drawn in and spat back out at the same time.”

Her practice is then “a resolution without a resolution” for this complex sensation. Michella has been in search for the materiality of the language, through learning the origin of letters and understanding it physically. She explained the Latin alphabets are angular due to its origin from stone carving; whereas the medium of Sinhalese was dried leaves. The strokes flow along with the hair of the leaves, ending in letters without angles. She started to make the letters out of clay and carving them into plaster. “It’s just spending time with the letters that I don’t necessarily understand, in the hope that maybe I can understand them more sculpturally, more materially.”

Her work has a strong sense of bodily interconnection. In addition to her exercise in letters, which she playfully refers it as “to physically understand something linguistic without understanding it linguistically,” she works on embroideries and body positions in papier-mâché. The art work is not only a practice for her to comprehend the in-and-out sense, but it also encourages viewers to relate to them through their body, instead of through identification and naming.

Written bu Huai-ya Lin


See Michella’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: Christopher Sperandio

“It’s a comedy that makes you want to cry,” says Christopher Sperandio. The distress and injustice of our world are increasingly so absurd that it almost seems comical. Christopher is an American artist with a great enthusiasm for comic books. He has long been working closely with the medium, including several international collaborations. Capsulizing his own art within one mere word as “pissed-off,” his practice in comic illustration – the fierce palette of the print and the action-lead raw narratives – certainly reflects the frustration and the fury of the artist toward the countless and endless, even repetitive, chaos of the society derived from greed, brutality and racism.

Christopher is no stranger to the power of comics. Beneath the naive frivolous nature of the medium lies an explosive energy, and most of all – a political voice. He points out that the aftermath of comics can be just as violent, with cartoonists and comic artists sent to prisons or even murdered. Take for example, the recent Charlie Hebdo Attack, where twelve employees of the French satirical magazine were killed.

Yet the danger is not limited to the confrontation and controversy from free speech, but also as a political tool for the purpose of propaganda. Interested in the history of comics in different countries, Christopher spent a month in Lisbon last summer. Diving into the archives of Portuguese comics, he devoured the considerable amount of Fascist prints with their governmental indoctrination. They were full of beautifully portrayed images such as kids in uniforms singing patriotic songs.

images by PILOTENKUECHE International Art Program

At the same time, comics are equally influential for positive uses. He mentioned the critical cartoons during the 1968 protest in Paris in which the dreadfulness of capitalism was conveyed through graphics and narratives. Early last year, Christopher curated the exhibition Between Love & Madness: Mexican Comic Art from the 1970s. The title came from one of his comic book collections of original drawings Entre el Amor y la Locura. “That comic is about gaslighting,” he explains. He references the 1944 mystery-thriller Gaslight where the husband manipulates the wife into questioning her own sanity. “That’s what Trump is doing with the American public. He’s gaslighting the American public – telling lies and making the citizens believe things that aren’t true.” Christopher complimented the utilization of comic book form to discuss the psychological manipulation which is still perfectly relevant to contemporary issues in the modern world.

“Humour can reach across gaps whether it’s class, race or other kind of social boundaries. Humour has a political dimension to it. It can be quite useful in destroying tyrants.” The artist who previously published a copy about Trump, describing him in comical term as “a straight-up villain,” is currently working on his new comic book, tackling on the concern of automation. Seeing the videos of Boston Dynamic robots, he questioned the possibility of the exploitation – robots deployed as a military or police force instead of for health-care purposes. “It sounds a bit like science fiction,” he continued “but it fills me with dread seeing the videos. These things literally feel like zombies, with no pity and no feelings. They are animated but not alive.”

written by Huai-ya Lin

images supplied by artist


See Christopher’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: Adam Tuch

Adam Tuch likes to play with the invisible. Revolving around the intangible, his multi-faceted practice is concerned with our perception of space and sound, in regards to contemporary society’s increasing coalescence with modern technology and its dependence on it. Adam’s work centers on the communication between man and machine. He focuses on the threshold between intimate interaction and functional utilisation of new digital means. 

The Boston-based artist is interested in the increasingly blurred boundaries between reality and simulation and their constant reciprocation to the point of total indistinguishability between original and fake, of the genuine and the imitation becoming mutually dependent on one another. With his often entirely digital works, Adam is aiming to explore our emotional and corporeal understanding of both physical and virtual spaces. His practice concentrates particularly on the impalpable concept of public space and its ever shifting definition. 

Central to Adam’s work is the intention to create conditions which enable the viewer to actively engage with the technological means employed. The direct interaction with the computer transforms the viewer’s role from passive spectator to active contributor. This forces them to reconceive their function in respect to the machine. Simultaneously, the situation generated allows the audience to have an intuitive, almost mindless interplay with the computer.

On his website hellllllo.info, Adam invites the visitor to correspond with an animated character through an algorithmic online chat. Since the answers are automated, the conversation between the online-character and the visitor turns into an absurd, almost tragic miscommunication, a dead end. This is emphasised by the haphazard sound effects and random screenshots that flare up during the chat. The provoked situation draws on our growing urge to connect with others through digital means, and the inevitable, intricate complications that come with it.

Diverging from his classical music and jazz background, Adam released his entirely electronic album called ‘Screen Shot 2018’ last year. Although occasionally melodic, the twelve tracks, consist of distorted voice snippets, linguistic exercises and shrill gaming sounds, and range somewhere between children’s TV character, rave party and horror soundscape. They have an almost nightmarish infantility to them. He pushed the further with nonsensical titles such as ‘erRorErrOrerroReRorrerROreRRoRErrOr’, ‘I*v’ and ‘%’, With Adammmmmmmmmmmm, his musical persona, Adam explores the idea of artificial realities, his sounds luring the listener into a non-existent cyber space. 


Currently, Adam has started to grow algae in his studio space at Pilotenkueche. “I want to use it as a means to represent environmental space,” he says as he expounds his plan to juxtapose the algae with a digital image of an underwater world shown on a submerged iPhone. He has also recently started researching brand logos, their embeddedness in our consumption-oriented culture and the almost religious reverence they are attributed with in present day society. Adam’s practice is incessantly concerned with the way we identify with the products we buy and concurrently let these things define us. It is hyperaware of the fact that everything we surround ourselves with plays a pivotal role in the way we perceive, evaluate and determine objects and spaces. 

Fast-moving technological advancements allows us to regenerate the idea of material reality and bodily presence as we are no longer confined to locating ourselves in a single space. Instead we are now able to exist in multiple spaces at the same time. The attempt to capture the essence of this idea, of us being able to simultaneously experience different forms of reality, lies in the heart of Adam’s complex work. 

written by Fiona Irene Graf


See Adam’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: Sabrina Jolicoeur

In today’s society people are exposed to dozens or even hundreds of commercials every day. We are nearly drowning in those images. They are everywhere: in stores, outside on the street or in our news feeds on social media. How does it influence our perception of the world? Which role does it play in contemporary art? Sabrina Jolicoeur is a good person to ask those questions. Sabrina, a multidisciplinary artist and a freelance photographer based in Montreal, can see the commercial image from both sides. This allows her to create a new perspective.

(During her BFA in photography at Concordia University) “I was mainly focused on the commodification of image forms”

Surveillance was the main topic for her Bachelor thesis. This referenced her childhood spent on the military base and addressed one of the most discussed public issues. To get a full picture she interviewed a relative who worked in the military as a drone operator. She then conducted research on the companies that make jets, cameras and weaponry for the military. She paid special attention to how they use language as a way of propaganda.

all photos by PILOTENKUECHE International Art Program

Since coming to the residency at Pilotenkueche, Sabrina has been elaborating on new ideas. Currently she is focusing on commodification of the wellness economy and its offshoots. This led to researching how wellness has been commercialized and shared throughout history. What is particularly interesting about this topic is the fact that it can be accessed on a microscopic level in a connection to a human body, as well as, on an environmental level, and as a space of a wellness.

In her work, We share our blood, she deliberated on wellness in a sense of the community.  She made an installation with different kinds of hooks and wires and all points of connection painted in red as a reference to the blood oxidation. On each end there was an avocado seed as a reminder of growth.

It is very typical of Sabrina to pay special attention to the materials she is working with in terms of their microscopic importance. For example, carbon fiber is used in the tech industry, but at the same time it is one of the essential elements for a human body. She tries to collect all kinds of materials and arrange them so that they interact with each other. Salt and rocks, massage tools and seasonal depression lamp or sea weed and wires- the seemingly random join in connection.

Sabrina usually works on more than one piece at the same time.I am trying to let the process guide the work. I don’t like to have a finished idea about what my art piece is going to be. I let it grow naturally without limiting it to a final stage. So here in the studio things are in a constant flux, things move around, things get discarded…”. After her residency comes to an end, she wants to continue working on the topic of wellness in a larger scale back in Montreal.  We are all thrilled to see the fruitful results of her work.  

written by Kristina Nizamova

feature photo: Richmond Lam



Artist Spotlight: Izdihar Afyouni

There is no such thing as passive spectatorship in the work of Palestinian artist Izdihar Afyouni. She explores dualities such as subjugation and agency, violence and eroticism, abjection and subjectivity. Complex narratives emerge. They present disenfranchised subjects; women, prisoners, migrants and refugees. But her viewers are not any more confronted with these narratives as they subjected to them. At times, she will employ processes of unconscious identification in order to provoke a psychological response. Others, she will creative immersive participatory performances which facilitate feelings of (consensual) discomfort. Through these means, alienation and biologically sanctioned injustice is literally enacted upon the bodies of the viewers themselves.

Izdihar was classically trained in academic figural drawing and recently completed her MA in Art and Politics at Goldsmiths, University of London. Although primarily working on large-scale paintings, she operates as a multi-disciplinary artist and independent curator. Both politically and psychologically engaged with understanding the body, Izehar is specifically interested in individuals who have been subjugated and experienced abjection.

Abjection was popularised by Julia Kristeva in her work Powers of Horror. Building upon the psychoanalytic theories of Sigmund Freud and Jaques Lacan, the term refers to the separation between the self and ‘other’. This is derived from cultural narratives of horror or discrimination, it is the state of being ‘cast off’. Izdihar is fascinated in intense forms of abjection, manifested in decades of trauma. She says that this occurs when horror becomes the only language you know how to speak, when war becomes your ‘psychological currency’.

Describing her practice as research-led, she will begin with a concept and develop it theoretically. However, at times the concept will develop with the work itself. This is especially true for her paintings.  For they speak a pictorial language which transcends what the written word can express alone.

Stylistically, she considers herself a figeral painter, an abstract expressionist and a contemporary Surrealist. But we’re not talking about the dream imagery of Salvador Dali. It’s a Surrealism for a more contemporary age; one which is imbued with a so called ‘horror aesthetic’. Much of her paintings induce nightmarish qualities, only amplified by the grandiose scale which is intended to dwarf the spectator. Izehar will at times use her own blood, ground into the paint.

Blood has particular symbolic pertinence to her practice, not only for it’s festishistic properties, but in its connection to real people. In her on-going series and curatorial project Thicker Than Blood,Izdihar looks at the impact of state policies and bio-surveillance measures which regulate free movement, bodies and individual agency. In the initial instalment, which took place in a London Dungeon, viewers gained entry into the space upon providing a small sample of their blood. Their experience of the piece was then contingent on the amount of white blood cells shown in their results. While some viewers were treated to a performance, others were subjected to an interrogation. But there was a method to the cruelty. The oeuvre is intended to draw attention to the ethical and psychological ramifications of racial and genetic profiling.

During her time at PILOTENKUECHE residency, Izdihar has returned to painting. For the group’s first show at Kunstkraftwerk, she created a triptych entitled ‘She’s A Cult’. The piece is inspired by the early Italian Baroque painter Artemisia and art-historical interpretations of female violence. Artemesia is today considered one of the foremost progressive painters of her generation. In an era when women were largely excluded from the male-dominated community of artists and patrons, she has been hailed by art critics as representing the rhetoric of the  ‘power of women’. Through a direct re-imagining of Artemisia’s ‘Judith slaying Holofernes’, Izdihar sought to highlight similar contemporary paradigms of displacement with regard to the continued exclusion of women from artistic discourse.

For the group’s final exhibition ‘Wrestling with Impermanence’, She completed another large scale painting exploring a sustained pre-occupation with the figure of the abject.

Written by: Ellisha Walkden

________________________________________________________________________________________

Elsewhere a Blue Line and the Absurdity of a Ghost on a Stone 

Open: Sun 19 – Sun 2 June 2019, 10AM – 6PM (closed Mondays)
Location: Kunstkraftwerk, Saalfelder Str. 8, 04179 Leipzig

Wrestling with Impermanence 

Vernissage: Fri 21 June 2019, 7PM
Open: Sat 22 – Wed 26 June 2019 1PM-5PM
Location: PILOTENKUECHE, 2nd Floor, Franz-Flemming-Str. 9, 04179 Leipzig, Germany

Artist Spotlight: Jos Diegel

Jos Diegel is an artist of many facets. Interested in art as a catalyst for social change, he has immersed himself in different worlds with this very ethos as a binding thread. Through the years of his artistic practice since graduating from the University of Art and Design in Offenbach, where he focused on painting and film, he has honed in on his artistic and intellectual pursuits to create a rounded out practice all his own. At the core of his work stands a spirit of art and creation as an act of freedom and as a tool for resistance. He actualizes this philosophy through his own personal practice as well as several collaborative as well as educational efforts.

All of these efforts combine, although very different on the surface, to become a sort of signature style and workflow for Jos. His filming process is much like his approach to painting and community-oriented workshops – go with the flow and open as many boundaries as possible. By working with people from different disciplines Jos opens himself up to connecting perspectives and collaborating with a healthy dose of spontaneity and chance. As he succinctly and cheekily puts it – ‘I am not the best at anything, but I am the best at what I do’. In many way this is the self-empowering nature of Jos’ practice. Give people the tools and space for creating and they will create, ideally to the best of their ability.

By working in this mindset he takes his interest in film beyond filming shorts, documentaries and feature length narratives into a world of distortion and manipulation by playing with materials and process. In continuing his curiosity for film into more experimental realms Jos found himself playing with 35mm film by scratching and painting directly onto meters of film. This playful process turned into travelling for and organizing workshops in which participants engage in the same playful distortion. They find scenes, change them, recontextualize, add elements with paint and marker or scratch emulsion away with etching needles and other tools. The practice lends itself to play and experimentation and when spliced together and screened (ideally on a big screen in a theatre) it takes on a life of its own. Participants see their work linked to not only other participants but to major Hollywood production companies, old film strips found at flea markets or whatever random film strip is pulled from Jos’ bag of tricks on that particular day. In this way, the work becomes bigger than an individual person manipulating a few seconds of film. It becomes a group of people playfully subverting the normative ideals so often imposed on us by mainstream media and advertising. It becomes a new connection to past pop culture. It becomes a small yet powerful act of playful rebellion.

This idea is also carried through into Jos’ painting practice. While he paints and layers with color and texture in what he calls his solo practice, his current focus – and something we can look forward to in Pilotenkueche’s upcoming final exhibition – is overpainting on old landscape and portrait paintings found at flea markets. Although a completely different and equally vital part of Jos’ aesthetic, these two areas of interest and practice become inextricably linked. Not because they merely sprout from the same artist’s mind but because they share practical and theoretical elements while keeping a unique sense of process and style. They inform one another in a web of connection.

While Jos continues to expand his breadth of practice and interest in the function of society and the artist’s role in it, he will, undoubtedly, take us along for the ride. This inclusion of people from all walks of life and ages is a beautiful testament to how far his own work can reach and the people that it will speak to. We need only be present for a connection to emerge.

written by: Adrian Rötzscher

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Elsewhere a Blue Line and the Absurdity of a Ghost on a Stone 

Open: Sun 19 – Sun 2 June 2019, 10AM – 6PM (closed Mondays)
Location: Kunstkraftwerk, Saalfelder Str. 8, 04179 Leipzig

Wrestling with Impermanence 

Vernissage: Fri 21 June 2019, 7PM
Open: Sat 22 – Wed 26 June 2019 1PM-5PM
Location: PILOTENKUECHE, 2nd Floor, Franz-Flemming-Str. 9, 04179 Leipzig, Germany
Performance: To be announced

Artist Spotlight: Jana Moser

The beautiful and, at times, chaotic cycles of nature are what keep Jana Moser inspired to continue looking and drawing. She finds inspiration both in the minutiae of the natural world as well as the larger forces of the universe, that in turn make us feel minute.  This interconnectedness is apparent in both her artistic practice and her free-flowing demeanor. She takes potentially challenging steps with ease and channels the rhythms of earth to inform her process.

This absorption-based inquiry gets distilled and filtered and takes form as a meditative layering of oil pastel while scraping, manipulating and working into cotton rag paper. The final effect is something akin to printmaking but in its repetitive and laborious singularity resembles something more. It becomes a visual record of a slow buildup of tension and release as the pastel works its way into the fibers of the paper, gets scraped and pulled away, and ultimately interconnects the paper with the piece as a whole. The paper serves as a bed from which color and texture grow. As she puts it – ‘the more I put on, the more the paper is present’. Pastel and paper merge into one material.

Since finishing her studies in the drawing and printmaking department at the Victorian College of the Arts in Melbourne, Jana has attempted to push abstraction in her work. This conscious move away from representation is an attempt to take the viewer on a more visual and visceral journey. She wants to strip any semblance to representative form that may lead the viewer’s perception astray. Visually it comes through as if she were zooming in on a landscape painting or taking a microscope to a naturally occurring lattice structure. It is a strong hint at her appreciation of natural biology and the small beauties in life.

photos by PILOTENKUECHE International Art Program

This move towards abstraction and playing with spontaneity seems to be a natural progression of where her work has been. Coming from a printmaking background but ultimately leaving the often times confining and process heavy space that printmaking requires, Jana opted for something more fluid and immediate. In further exploring this type of mark-making we can expect a more playful use of space, working on a much larger scale and a general expansion outside of the borders of the paper itself. By imposing restrictions on her practice, such as a limited color palette, limited tools, and a basis of repetitive mark-making, Jana achieves this outward experimentation with a fluidity and ease all her own.

The artist is currently preparing for the final group exhibition at the Pilotenkueche artist residency. She does so with this experimental mindset, eased by the idea of remaining in Leipzig for another 3 months. She can finalize some new ideas by jumping off the walls, playing with new color combinations and expanding the size and range of the paper she works with. All the while content that she can keep exploring the city itself while continuing her artistic journey.

written by: Adrian Rötzscher


Elsewhere a Blue Line and the Absurdity of a Ghost on a Stone 

Open: Sun 19 – Sun 2 June 2019, 10AM – 6PM (closed Mondays)
Location: Kunstkraftwerk, Saalfelder Str. 8, 04179 Leipzig

Wrestling with Impermanence 

Vernissage: Fri 21 June 2019, 7PM
Open: Sat 22 – Wed 26 June 2019 1PM-5PM
Location: PILOTENKUECHE, 2nd Floor, Franz-Flemming-Str. 9, 04179 Leipzig, Germany
Performance: To be announced