Tag Archives: performance art

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: 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: Coffee Kang

Coffee Kang is an artist encompassing many different worlds, all moving and shifting seemingly under her feet but she takes it in stride. It’s all impermanent, all part of the process. Having moved from China to Los Angeles to complete a Masters in photo media from the California Institute of the Arts she is now based in Southern California where she focuses her body of work on varying situations – how do we change spaces, how do spaces change us and how does culture affect these changes? As she creates meaning through her work we are invited to ask our own questions: how does process inform meaning? What is the importance of performance in relation to achieving a specific goal? These themes come up in Coffee’s time-based works, and so much more.

As she navigates her personal narrative using photo media, video and primarily performance centered pieces, the temporality of the medium helps to inform her personal and cultural historicity while trying to connect to a grander whole. This fluctuation, or state of flowing, relates back to how we move in certain spaces and how our culture affects perception as well as physical space. In this connection comes an exploration of inherited culture, identity and the power of the individual within a system.

While Coffee’s work changes in form it is comfortably placed within a tradition of performance and process, ultimately landing somewhere in the conceptualization and activities of Fluxus. In this established mode of creating ‘process matters more than the result’. This is the crux of the meaning making. It is not about a product, or even some intangible end result. More important, here, is the journey in the making. The performance or action is not to achieve something but to do something.

photos by PILOTENKUECHE or courtesy of artist

These ideas are brought to life in her past works and performances, most notably in her temporal work The Funeral, wherein she performed a funeral for a previous piece. This work, titled Days in the Matchbox, was sentenced to death by a necessary move from her studio. In this way the artist created meaning out of a daily life stressor. She used the end result of moving out of her studio as a catalyst for meaning making through performance while reanimating an older piece for one final action.

In her seemingly permanent state of impermanence, or ‘current of changing’, Coffee Kang finds herself in Leipzig amidst a group of international artists all creating their own meaning within the context of the host city and more specifically within the Pilotenkueche artist residency. In this light the themes she works with can shine – they can flourish not by providing answers but by leading viewers and participants through the construction of purpose that happens within a group, within a new city, within the very process of critical thinking in both art making and art viewing.

In an attempt to explore her subconscious self, she will be looking to the stars that hang above Leipzig and the White Elster river that cuts through it. By connecting with the water flowing through the city she connects with all of the different bodies of water she has resided near, by connecting with the stars she connects not only to her inner self but to all of us that reside beneath them.

written by Adrian Klaus Rotzscher

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See Coffee’s work in the following Pilotenkueche International Art Program shows: 

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

Vernissage: Sat 18 May 2019, 7PM
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: Amanda Struver

Each day Amanda sits facing her studio window, legs crossed, listening intently to her big black headphones as she researches and gathers her materials.  Her studio has two shovels, a pink sparkly pig mask, sardine tins painted white, a tripod and other objects that don’t seem connected. It is her effervescence that fills the room.  Amanda Struver considers any given space she occupies as a part of her practice. She continually thinks of ways to contextualize ideas and objects within the given situation, as she uses boundaries of place and the body, concepts of disarray and dysfunction, as tools for her work.

Amanda understands her practice as manic. She is continually working through multiple projects at once. However, each idea is linked by questions of various dualities, such as; personal vs universal; animal vs. human; nothing vs everything; dirty vs sterile.  These questions began with the exploration of her body and the ways in which one is to behave or not behave, based on the cultural/social beliefs and norms.

She does not prefer being identified in one form or to belong to any one category, but rather she frees herself by revealing different performances of alternative selves. Examples of these performances are Pool Boi– where she had the chance to care for a pool, she performed and logged entries on Instagram of her life poolside, and Scum– another performance in which she walked around the crowds of the gallery either noticed or neglected by them and created an atmosphere that tested their tolerance through smell and behaviour.

all photos by PILOTENKUECHE International Art Program or supplied by the artist

Order vs chaos is another duality she heavily worked through. Over the course of seven months she built up a space composed of three walls in her given studio, called a “set”, and filled it with various objects, creating different scenarios.  It evolved to her entering the space and recording her actions, which ranged from sitting on a block of lard, crushing eggs between her armpits, and pouring milk on the carpet only to absorb it back onto a rag until full and repeat. Through the repetition of a simple task or motion she lost sense of time and was transported out of the situation of the “set”.  By bringing focus to repetition, she provokes comfortability in regularity.

“It is easy to exist within a routine, and I wonder how does this influence an experience of a reality?”

While at Pilotenkueche, Amanda will be continuing to process through a few different projects, and one that is specific to the context of this residency- in which she will be digging a hole under a bridge for Sad Baby. The hole will be dug for a set number of hours, each day. In conjunction, she will be doing a series of writings for the situation of Sad Baby, who is all of us and none of us. Through this work she will suggest a notion of routine, while emulating desperation felt from doing it all for nothing.

written by mihyun maria kim

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Come and see what Amanda creates in the following shows:

Unfinished Hase

Vernissage:  15.02.19, 19h
Open:  16 – 23.02.19, 13 – 17h
Finissage: 23.02.19 19h
Location: 
Alte Handelsschule, Gießerstraße 75, 04229 Leipzig, Germany

Fast Kotzen 

Vernissage:  23.03.19, 19h
Open:  24 – 27.03.19 17h-20h
Location: PILOTENKUECHE, 2nd Floor, Franz-Flemming-Str. 9, 04179 Leipzig, Germany