Q & A with Schoolhouse resident Justin Orvis Steimer.
C & P: What artists (living or dead) inspire you or have helped to shape your painting/drawing style?
Justin: Roberto Matta was the first artist whose work really captivated me. The environments he was able to create, the way the shapes, lines and colors all interact with each other. The way you can go into his painting and wander around. Later some of the other surrealists really struck me, Tanguy and Ernst, again for the worlds they created and their combination forms, mixing abstract with figurative, giving me the feeling that anything is possible. Now I really believe in the collective consciousness, that we are all the same and all connected, we all inspire each other. The strongest inspiration from another person I have gotten recently was when I heard Nico Muhly’s music for Benjamin Millipeid’s Two Hearts. The combination of long sustained notes with repetitive yet slightly changing rhythms was so enchanting and seemed so familiar, it re affirmed that artistically there is always room to grow and continue to learn and that it is possible to make the old new again.
C & P: What is the first piece of art that you encountered that had an impact on you?
Justin: In 3rd grade I saw a Mondrian painting in Pittsburgh. When I got home I sat down at the kitchen table and drew a square on a piece of paper with a marker and thought my drawing could be in a museum some day, if someone ever found it.
C & P: Have you always been creative? Did you know that you would be an artist from a young age?
Justin: When I was young I wanted to be either an artist or a fighter pilot. It turns out that the navy only selects people who can see well for flight school, so pilot was out. I always knew I was an artist, I have only just recently fully realized that I am living that dream.
C & P: What is influencing the work you are making right now?
Justin: Really trying to create something that no one has ever seen before. Drawing life in a manner that will cause someone to make a connection that would never have been possible any other way. Right now is the most important time there will ever be, anything is possible, for my work there is nothing more important than documenting this energy.
C & P: Does being in New York City inspire the work you make?
Justin: I love New York. I spend a lot of time walking around and drawing in its subways and parks. I hear the train go by when I am painting in my room and the sirens while I am playing the organ. I am part of it and it is part of me.
C & P: Tell me a bit about your process when beginning a new piece. What inspires you to start a new piece?
Justin: I feel a constant compulsion to create. There is nothing more sacred to me than my drawing. This belief has made it possible to realize that there is tremendous value in the generally overlooked action of scribbling. This is what I have devoted my life to. Scribbling. Every drawing and painting begins this same way, with the idea being that just like sound can be etched in to vinyl, so too can energy be drawn onto paper. How the scribbling evolves throughout my life and where it will lead is the motivation for doing it.
C & P: I noticed that you utilize many different types of materials to create your work (wood panels, traditional canvas, sketchbooks, scrap paper, bedsheets, etc…). How do you decide what paper/surface to use for a particular art piece? Do you often experiment with materials? Or is the selection of materials mainly based on how you are feeling at the moment you begin working?
Justin: I bought a Moleskine sketchbook in 2005 and fell in love; the size, the paper, the pocket are all great. I haven’t found a book i like better so that decision is easy. I am currently on my 16th one. For my other work I like to start with something that already has some energy, a history. A couple months ago I found a large, flat, thin, smooth square of wood on the sidewalk near my house. It had a lot of scratches on it which I spent hours studying and imitating. Now you can no longer tell which marks I made and which were all ready there. It makes the viewer have questions about everything about the painting. I poured on paint and varnish (gifts from friends) and water and let them all mix. The wood soaked up what it wanted, some of the escaping air got trapped and made bubbles, the past life of the wood influenced these events. Then came the decisions of how much to change what has happened and what to leave alone. Man vs. nature. Destiny vs. free will. That painting is titled going in to get out. Most recently I have been sewing together scraps of muslin that my mom sent me. I have a couple frames that were given to me by Mark, my upstairs neighbor, which i stretch the fabric on. Thoughts of both of these people are in my head as I work, plus the fact that they had direct physical contact with the objects means that their energy is alive in the painting. That painting is titled thanks mom.
C & P: What other activities do you enjoy pursuing when not making art?
Justin: Just this past week I started going out to the Rockaways to surf. This is something I have wanted to do for a long time and I am excited to finally start going often enough to be able to really learn it. I spent literally all of my money on a wetsuit and a used surfboard. I now have 38 dollars to my name. I have always told myself never to worry about money, it always comes when I need it and the important thing is happiness not my bank account. I have also just started baking bread. I cooked in a restaurant for five years but we bought our baguettes so I never learned about yeast and starters and all of that. Two weeks ago I bought three packets of yeast and looked up a simple recipe and now I bake a loaf almost every other day. It really is quite simple, it just takes a bit of time for the dough to rise but it smells all yeasty and delicious while that is happening so it is a pleasant wait.
C & P: Does making music influence your painting practice?
Justin: Sometimes the only thing I want to do is sit down and play the piano. I don’t know what is going to come out but it is just like drawing, I just let my mind wander and start pressing down the keys, then maybe a certain rhythm or pattern emerges and sounds nice so I go with that for a while, then I want to change one of the notes or my fingers forget what they are doing so I play around until i find a new arrangement that makes me happy and I go with that for a while. It is its own thing as well as another way to think about painting. Making a big splash on the canvas is smashing your hand down on the keys. Drawing nice clean lines is playing a simple melody one note at a time.
C & P: You told me that you usually make music for yourself (and most often by yourself) and you also seem to be drawing constantly. For you is art making a solitary process? Do you ever collaborate with others? Are you a solitary person?
Justin: I definitely prefer working alone and enjoy my solitude. Occasionally people will ask to paint or draw with me and I always say yes. I also always feel a bit uncomfortable while doing it. My painting titled do something began with me and some friends getting out some frustrations by making a mess with paint. For me it wasn’t complete until I was able to go back and work on it alone for a few weeks. I was happy to have my friends finger prints and sweat on the canvas but i felt that to be able to understand it better I needed to refine parts of the mess. I do think it is good to get other people involved occasionally to keep things new and diverse but I will always do most of the work myself. Musically I do not like the pressure of someone else relying on or reacting to what I am doing. Most of the time I do make it for my self, I don’t care that no one else hears it. Every now and then I will play with people around but it makes me a bit nervous and it influences the music. I have been playing the guitar for over 10 years and I still struggle to play any song correctly the whole way through. This makes it hard to play with other people. Recently however my roommate David and I have been making these kind of tribal sounding, meditative songs. They are a combination of my electric organ, synthesizer, and acoustic guitar, mixed digitally with David’s beats and sometimes Mariette adds some vocals. That has been working because we are not concerned with the outcome. No pressure. Just like my drawing, if a mistake happens it is either embraced and left alone, or worked on until it becomes something new.
C & P: What could you imagine doing if you did not create art?
Justin: Traveling through outer space.
C & P: Where can we see more of your work on the web?
Justin will be showing his work this June at:
ps project space
548 w 28th st., suite 328
vip preview: wed june 20 from noon-8pm
opening: thurs june 21 from 6-9pm
gallery hours: june 22-27 open noon-6pm
closed sunday and monday
Photos © Christine Navin. Do not reproduce without permission.
Q & A with Schoolhouse resident, photographer, and mobile maker, Chris Chludenski.
C & P: You make found object mobiles and also shoot Polaroid photographs. How long have you been creating your mobiles and taking photos? Do you prefer working in one medium over another?
Chris: I’ve been doing both for about thirteen years now. I don’t prefer one medium over another but i certainly produce more Polaroids than I do mobiles. I prefer photography as an artform, as I can take it with me as I go, whereas with the mobiles I need materials and a studio space.
C & P: What are you most frequently drawn to as subject matter in your photography work? How about with your found object mobiles? Is there a correlation between the work?
Chris: I try to say something with the mobiles and express my views. Polaroids for me are much more documentary and don’t necessarily have a message behind them.
C & P: Tell me a bit about your camera collection… How many do you have? Have you used all of them? Which is your favorite?
Chris: I’ve got about 350 cameras. Mostly Kodaks, made between 1890 and 1980, and Polaroids, plus few Imperials, Agfas, and Spartus. Some working, some not. I’ve used about a quarter of them, I bet. Most would be in working order if film were available, but some are just beautiful models I can’t part with. I like that the older cameras were much more stylish, inventive, and decorative than what is produced today. My favorite is between the Big Shot Polaroid, that Andy Warhol made famous in his portraits, or the Kodak Colorburst camera, which Polaroid sued Kodak over and had production of both cameras and film stopped because of patent infringement.
C & P: Now that Polaroid has gone out of business and the film is no longer available what do you shoot with?
Chris: Fuji makes a film compatible with many Polaroid Land Cameras. Also the Impossible Project manufactures instant Polaroid film for sx-70 cameras. The film itself is flawed and expensive, but the idea to keep Polaroid alive is admirable.
C & P: Do you ever shoot digitally or do you prefer to still use film?
Chris: It depends on what I’m shooting. I have a Nikon digital camera that I use sometimes. I’ve also got a Canon 35mm.
C & P: Do you feel that digital lacks a certain quality that you look for in an image?
Chris: It doesn’t lack anything, its just a different aesthetic. A different view of the same thing.
C & P: You studied at Emerson College in Boston, did you study photography there?
Chris: I earned my BA in Photojournalism.
C & P: Do you prefer living in New York to Boston?
C & P: How has living at the Schoolhouse influenced your work? If at all?
Chris: I’ve been able to see things differently and get new perspectives.
C & P: What artists have been an influence on you?
Chris: Alexander Calder has always been a huge inspiration to me. Robert Capa. Ralph Eugene Meatyard.
C & P: What could you imagine doing if you did not create art?
The Schoolhouse will be open:
Friday, the 1st – 5PM — 11PM
Saturday, the 2nd – 12PM — 11PM
Sunday, the 3rd – 12 PM – 8 PM
Augustin Doublet will be screening his new short film Adam all weekend.
Photos © Christine Navin. Do not reproduce without permission.
Went to check out the Schoolhouse in Bushwick the other weekend. I peeked into a few studios and photographed 3 of the artists working within those spaces, alongside their work. I also photographed some of the common spaces and the interior of the amazing building.
The Schoolhouse was built in 1883 and used as a school until 1945, at which point it was sold to be used as a manufacturing business. It was used as a manufacturing space for many years (more historical information here), then abandoned, and then converted into artist’s live/work spaces in the 1990s. Originally the artists space was called ORT (the German word for site or place and also an acronym for “organizing resources together.”), now the space is just known as the Schoolhouse. Since the 90s there has been a revolving cast of creative individuals taking up residence in the space. The Schoolhouse is not an art collective or commune, however, the members of the house tend to act like a family; sharing art supplies, participating in house events, sometimes collaborating on art projects, and consuming many communal meals together.
The Schoolhouse hours over BOS weekend:
Friday, the 1st – 5PM — 11PM
Saturday, the 2nd – 12PM — 11PM
Sunday, the 3rd – 12 PM – 8 PM
Augustin Doublet will be screening his new short film Adam all weekend.
Here are some photographs of the Schoolhouse space. And a Q & A about the space with 3 of the resident artists, Justin Orvis Steimer, Augustin Doublet, and Chris Chludenski.
I will also be posting interviews over the next couple of days with these artists that concentrate more on their individual artwork and studio spaces.
C & P: How many years have you each lived at the Schoolhouse?
Justin: I moved in May of 2008, so 4 years now.
Chris: 3 years.
Augustin: 3 years.
C & P: Have you found that the area of Bushwick where the Schoolhouse is located has changed a lot since you moved into the space?
Justin: Broadway hasn’t changed a whole lot. A bodega or store will go out of business occasionally but it is replaced by something similar to what was already there. A lot of the bodegas are remodeling, putting up new signs, brighter lights, nicer counters but they still sell the same stuff. As you get closer to the Morgan and Jefferson L train stops there are a lot more start up restaurants and stores, places that weren’t there one or two years ago. There are definitely more police around than there used to be, including mounted police surveillance cameras and these star wars looking mobile cop towers that raise up like 20 feet.
Chris: Not really.
Augustin: I was surprised the other day to see a young white couple carrying their babies around on Broadway. 3 years ago I truly think that the Schoolhouse was one of the few places where white people lived in this part of Bushwick.
C & P: Have you ever lived in similar places in other cities?
Augustin: I spent one summer in Barcelona in a very creative environment but no I truly think that the Schoolhouse is unique. Actually the space and the people of the Schoolhouse played a major part in the choice I made to stay in New York.
C & P: Do you collaborate with past and present residents of the Schoolhouse? Do you consider the residents of the Schoolhouse to be members of a collective ?
Justin: So many people have been in and out of here, it all depends. Sometimes someone moves in that just clicks and in that case collaboration happens naturally. Some people move in and keep more to themselves and don’t really get involved with the rest of the house too much. Right now we have an amazingly talented group that has been living here for a couple years. We have created a family more than a collective. We cook and eat together often, we spend a lot of time talking and bouncing ideas around. When someone moves out they know that they always have a home here.
Chris: Not really a collective, per se. More like collaborating artists. It is good to have other people to run ideas by that aren’t necessarily working in the same medium as you, and also there’s a lot of material sharing going on, which is more convenient than having to go to the art store.
Augustin: We just finished the production of a short movie together. It was a fantastic and intense experience. All who live here are true artists and craftsman. So you can imagine how pleasant it is to work with skilled people that you love and care about.
It’s the second movie that I have produced with the roommates and I truly hope to continue this type of collaboration. One of the former roommates, Derek Deems, even came back from LA just to help with the shoot.
In my view the Schoolhouse is more of a community than a collective, meaning that the bond between people is more based on friendship than on art.
C & P: What is your greatest memory of time spent at the Schoolhouse since you have lived there?
Justin: Honestly what I enjoy the most is laying in the bathtub in my room in the late afternoon light, watching the reflections of the water on the ceiling and being totally at peace with the universe.
Chris: Holidays like Thanksgiving are really fun and unique when everyone’s around. Some of the events we’ve thrown like the “tooth replacement” fundraiser will always stand out in my mind.
Augustin: The Block Party that we throw with our neighbors every summer is certainly one of the best time.
C & P: What sort of events do you have in the space? Art-related? Music-related?
Justin: On my floor (the second floor) we have art shows every couple of months. Usually we show the work of people living in the house and our friends. Recently we hosted an Animamus Art Salon which brought in artists who we had never met. I like for the space to be used like that, bringing people together.
Chris: Both. Plus fundraisers for art, music, or good causes…
Augustin: All types of events. The people of the 3rd floor are for the most part musicians so you can expect to have a concert of indie-rock, electro, noise every month or so… Mark Dwinnel, who kind of manages the space of the 3rd floor, also used to organize lectures and poetry readings. I use the space to produce electro parties with Resolute and burlesque shows with MadSharpe production. Otherwise I would say that every other month the 1st and 2nd floor people exhibit their work or make the space available for performances.
C & P: I read that you throw a block party in the summer. How did that start? Do most of the people in the building participate in some capacity?
Justin: Our neighbors have been throwing the block party for years. Only in the past couple have we begun to get involved. It has grown to become one of the best days of the year. The whole block comes together to celebrate the summer. We grill out front and blast music from the roof. Everyone brings something to eat or drink and the whole block shares everything. Our neighbors set up pools in the street and rent a giant (like 30 feet tall) inflatable water slide. At night we move the party inside and keep going until morning.
Chris: You just gotta get a permit for a date, then get neighborhood signatures. Then the city closes the street down for the day and all have a great time. Everyone is the building either comes out, or cooks, or just joins in the general festivities. Its probably the kids who live on the block that have the most fun, getting to run around like maniacs all day.
C & P: You are also involved in Bushwick Open Studios at the beginning of June. Do you have any special events planned in the space for the occasion?
Justin: Each of us will have our work up all over the space. We are going to build some tents to hang out in and I am going to make pancakes. I will play the organ in the living room a bit as well. Elliot will be screen printing down stairs and Willy will be roller skating around the dance studio while playing the guitar and singing.
Chris: There will be music events for sure. And we’re all putting up some sort of art, so there will be plenty to see.
Augustin: Yes, of course! We will screen the latest movie that I directed and produced. It’s a very dear project to me and I’m very proud of it. It’s a short fiction named ADAM. The story revolves around the day of a street smart kid in Bushwick.
Photos © Christine Navin. Do not reproduce without permission.
Above spreads from Chapter One: Down The Rabbit Hole, Unique Silkscreened book,
33 x 46 cm, 2010
C & P: How did Bongoût begin? How did you start collaborating with Anna Hellsgård? When did you open the Bongoût art space/store? Who runs the Bongoût store? Are the shop, the graphic design/illustration business (Re:Surgo!), and the artist representative agency (Bellevue Illustration) all run by the same people, in the same space? Is this all you and Anna Hellsgård?
Bongoût/Christian: I started pretty punk. My first silkscreen atelier was in a huge alternative warehouse project across the Rhine, in Kehl (Germany), that was hosting rehearsal spaces, recording studios and event spaces. I was publishing silkscreen hand-printed artist books in a very DIY matter. Some of my friends started a small garage punk & noise label, so I would design and print the record covers. Meanwhile we organised concerts, exhibitions, raves and parties, So I was in charge of doing the design and print to advertise the events.
When I met Anna in 2001, we started collaborating and eventually our work became more structured and sharp. We relocated in Bordeaux for a year and a half. We quickly moved to Berlin. In Berlin we’ve had three different locations, and we’ve been in the space on Torstrasse since early 2008.
Our shop, design & print studio are all in the same location—we occupy the entire lower floor of Torstr. 110. Our illustration agency, Bellevue, is in the 4th floor in the same building. Anna and me run the graphic design studio and silkscreen studio together. We run the publishing company and shop with our partner Alain, and Bellevue is co-run by us and Jakob Hinrichs and Katia Fouquet.
C & P: Is there a silkscreen facility on the Bongoût premises? How often is the press in use?
Bongoût/Christian: The silkscreen print studio is in the back of of shop. Hardly a day goes by when we don’t print.
C & P: The Bongoût web shop sells photography, sculpture, paintings, handmade books, zines, limited edition prints, t-shirts, music, and more. Do you sell as much of a variety of products in the store? Who curates what is sold in the store and online?
Bongoût/Christian: Yes, in fact you can regard it as a sort of select shop—we carry things we like, mostly print publications (from polished offset artist monographs to DIY limited edition zines) but also prints, posters, apparel, vinyl records, and even chinaware designed by artists, and of course original artworks.
Biographical Chapter 12, Silkscreen print, 150 x 200 cm, 2011
C & P: Do you regularly have exhibitions in the space? Are the exhibitions always of people’s work who you sell in the shop?
Bongoût/Christian: For the last three and a half years, we had on opening every month and were having exhibitions non-stop in constant rotation. But we’ve had to focus more and more on our own work as well as the books we are publishing, and needed more space for the office and studio.
We moved them into the former exhibition space and are now having smaller shows every third month in the shop part of Bongoût. It’s not only people whose work is in the shop, but it will often be of artists who we’ve worked with in the past in some form. The connections come about quite naturally, and we develop the concept for the exhibitions together. When we were using the exhibition space we would approach it as a very flexible and modular space, and it looked different for every exhibition—adding temporary walls, changing the lighting, painting the walls different colours… each exhibition had a very unique character.
Loomings Chapter 1, Silkscreen print, 150 x 200 cm, 2010
C & P: Could you talk about the process of working with an artist/illustrator on a book or an art print? Do you silkscreen the book/print or does the artist silkscreen their own work? Or does the process vary from artist to artist, project to project?
Bongoût/Christian: We have very often worked with other artists—in fact, collaborations are an essential part. Each project defines a new set of rules, and in general we have a very good chemistry with our project partners. It’s comparable to making music with different people. It creates a good balance and challenges between our different projects.
C & P: Do you only print limited edition, hand-silkscreened books and prints in house? Do you ever send a project out to an offset press to print a larger edition of a book?
Bongoût/Christian: A few years ago we started to publish offset books. We now have a catalogue of over 15 offset publications, books & catalogues. We are currently working on three big offset monographs: a painting book by ATAK, a book of Marilyn Manson’s watercolours and a photo book with Natacha Merritt.
Given, 72 pages silkscreen book, 93 colours, 40 x 30 cm (above 3 images)
C & P: What is the most involved/complex project you have ever undertaken in Bongoût’s print shop?
Bongoût/Christian: We just finished Given, a huge collective silkscreen book. Three booklets in a cardboard box, 30 x 40 cm, 72 pages, and a run of 145. We used 93 screens for it. We asked 35 artists (Seripop, Tara Mc Pherson, Pakito Bolino, Gregory Jacobsen, Manuel Ocampo….) to submit images and we printed the whole project this summer. It´s massive.
C & P: How do you find the artists/illustrators/comics that you work with and/or represent? Are most of the Bongoût stable friends and/or acquaintances? People who have submitted work through your website? Or people that you have scouted out at schools and in other publications? Are they mostly German?
Bongoût/Christian: The connections happen naturally. The artists we work with come from all over the world. After 15 years of being active, we have a pretty good network, but we are always excited to discover new young talents to collaborate with.
C & P: How many projects do you work on at a time?
Bongoût/Christian: We always multi-task and work on several projects simultaneously. That’s how we can keep on being productive and avoid lulls. It is not unusual that a project goes over a time frame of three-six months (sometimes it takes a year or two to put everything on place), so if we were focusing on only one at a time it would be very slow and frustrating. This way we keep ourselves busy and have a steady output, its’ exciting.
C & P: Are there other publishers in Berlin doing something similar to what Bongoût is doing? How about elsewhere in Europe?
Bongoût/Christian: In Berlin I’m not sure. Over the years I saw a few publications that go in a similar direction, but rarely anything consistent. Since the 70´s here is a long tradition of underground art publishing in France, which is part of my background, l´APAAR, Elles sont de Sortie, Le Dernier CRi, United Dead Artists… just to name a few.
C & P: Do you ever collaborate with other independent publishers?
Bongoût/Christian: We carry other publishers’ books in our shop and web shop. We did a few straightforward collaboration too.
C & P: Do you sell Bongoût product anywhere in the USA?
Bongoût/Christian: Cinders Gallery and Booklyn Artist Alliance, both in Brooklyn, are carrying our silkscreen artist books, and in terms of distribution, DAP and LAST GASP are distributing some of our offset books in the USA.
C & P: How long have you been creating artwork? Have you always used the medium of silkscreen?
Bongoût/Christian: I started to publish graphic zines under the name Bongoût in April 1995, and I met Anna in 2001. We essentially silkscreen, but we also paint, draw, photograph, do installations and play in several bands.
Chapter Two: A Pool of Tears, Unique Silkscreened book, 40 x 60 cm, 2011 (above 3 spreads)
C & P: I saw the book Down the Rabbit Hole at the New York Art Book Fair last year and was absolutely blown away by it. It was definitely the most beautiful book I saw at the entire fair, unfortunately I could not afford to purchase it. There is only one copy made? And this year you produced a similar book, A Pool of Tears, which The US Library of Congress purchased. Could you tell me a bit about the process of making these books? Where does the imagery in the book come from? How long does it take to produce?
Bongoût/Christian: Yes, it is a unique book, there is only one copy. It’s a hard cover, with embossing (46 x 33 cm). The book is a mise-en-abyme of media and techniques and the title is obviously inspired by Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. The beginning it’s very intuitive. The materials go through several iterations and transpositions until the final result is achieved. It just clicks, we know exactly when we have reached what we wanted. At the end it makes it hard to pinpoint one specific technique.
This book is part of a series, with each book being considered as a “chapter”. Each chapter is named after a chapter in Alice In Wonderland. We are currently working on Chapters 3 & 4. Chapter 1 is now in the Standford library collection and Chapter 2 in the US Library of Congress.
C & P: Do you ever take the imagery from a page in one of these books and reuse it to make a poster or present it in some other format?
Bongoût/Christian: Like I said, our work is a constant mise-en-abyme. A time-travel remix. We are reusing film, elements, found material, our own work (paintings, drawings, photos)… one work leads to the next one. The creative process reflect the dynamics of creation and inspiration.
C & P: What is your favorite thing to do in the neighborhood?
Bongoût/Christian: Sorry but I will not advertise them in a public discussion. (Ed.- Understandable, I might have the same reaction to the question in regards to Greenpoint/Williamsburg!) I hang out there with my friends and I want to keep these places genuine and tourist-free as long as possible. That’s why they are my favorite spots.
C & P: Do you feel that you will be able to stay in Mitte for a long time? Or is Mitte changing in a way that it will make it impossible for a gallery/artist run space to be able to operate there in the future?
Bongoût/Christian: Anna and I were discussing it recently. We’ll see what the future brings, but all together I don’t think that it’s changing that fast.
C & P: I just read that Tacheles was closed down this year and the artists who had studio spaces there were evicted. Is this true? How do you feel about the arts landmark being demolished and turned into high priced condos?
Bongoût/Christian: I never felt very close to the Tacheles community or spirit. Tacheles was a pale vestige of a Berlin that is long gone for me. Twenty years ago you had a lot of squats and artist spaces like this, and I loved that energy, but it is something that was particular to the 80’s and 90’s right before and after the fall of the Berlin wall. These creative community had as much to give as the established artists.
But even if the building was amazing, over the last few years, the Tacheless turned more and more into just another tourist attraction. It’s a natural evolution, gentrification is inevitable. No big deal. When it happen move on and do something new.
C & P: I went to Berlin in early 2000 and again in 2005 and in just five years I noticed that the city had changed a lot… and now I assume it has changed even more. Do you feel that Berlin is a different city now than it was in 2005? Is it becoming more difficult to live cheaply there?
Bongoût/Christian: It might still take a while until all of Berlin looks and feels like Prenzlauer Berg though. Of course, once you’re settled or running a business, you’re pretty happy that you can walk along the sidewalk without stepping in dog shit and having to dodge the drunks. But people were saying the same thing in 1990, and again in 2000. I see tons of galleries and artists moving to Berlin because they think it’s the El Dorado of art. They heard about cheap rents and are hoping to make it big time here, but most of them quickly sober up and realize it’s not as easy as they thought. Financially, the city is still a nightmare—there’s a reason why the beer and the rents are cheap. Most people don’t make a lot of money here. But this is part of Berlin’s flair. And you could see this as a sort of freedom from economic constraints or the pressure of “making it.” If you have accepted that, you might as well do what you like. This creates the basis for the particular kind of vitality and creativity so unique to Berlin. Perhaps the established art world is getting bitter and running in circles, but there are a lot of extremely talented artists working on what they love to do, there are exciting off-spaces, hundred of concerts every night. It’s still really exciting what’s going on here.
C & P: Would you ever move to a different city/place or is Berlin the place for you?
Bongoût/Christian: Even if I could imagine moving to NYC or San Fransisco, Berlin is definitely the place for us. There is an energy in Berlin that you won’t find anywhere else. It’s always been like this. It is a city that is truly alive. This is why we love Berlin. It’s a city of paradoxes, and these paradoxes are its strength.
If you are in Los Angeles next weekend stop by the Fountain Art Fair to check out some work by Cheap & Plastique artists, Christine Navin, Heather Morgan, & Nathan Wasserbauer. More information below!
A bit about Pacific Standard Time from LA Weekly: With more than 60 exhibitions by museums, gobs more by commercial galleries, a performance festival and a post-punk parade to wend its way down Broadway, this ginormous art initiative called Pacific Standard Time, officially kicking off Oct. 1, attempts to grapple with the emergence of L.A. art from 1945 to 1980.
(613 Imperial Street LA, CA 90021)
September 30 – October 2, 2011
General Public Hours:
12 PM – 7 PM, every day
Friday, September 30, 7 PM – 12 AM – Opening Night Reception
Musical Performances: TBA
Saturday, October 1, 7 PM – 12 AM – LA Weekly Presents Musical Performances: TBA
You should come to the LAST EVER Monster Island Block Party!
It is Saturday, September 10th, 2 PM ’til 10 PM, MARK YOUR CALENDARS.
IT’S GONNA BE AWESOME (but also a bit sad, since the Monster Island building
is gonna be demolished in October). Booze should help us to forget the sorrow,
at least for an afternoon.
From Monster Island‘s kickstarter page:
This year’s block party will entail over 12 live music performances from building bands and members of bands such as Golden Triangle, Oneida, Man Forever, Soldiers of Fortune, DudknowDub, Cult of Youth, Vaz, K-Holes, Knyfe Hyts, Divine Order of the Blood Witch, TrycryTry and many more. It will host 2 art installations themed Outer Space the Final Frontier and Liquid Gold. It will also host open studios, an all day BBQ, DJ’s, a video installation in the basement by Robot Death Cult and live music in several practice spaces. We plan to make a memorabilia T-Shirt, poster and tote bag of Monster Island so that our community will have something tangible to remember us by.
Went to see BUTTHOLE (a Hole tribute band) at Live With Animals gallery on Saturday night, for the second to last show LWA will have in their Monster Island space. I was not quite sure what to expect from BUTTHOLE, as I was never a huge Hole fan in the first place, but they were actually really good, possibly even better than Hole! The kids were rockin’ out and enjoying a very 90’s sing-a-long!
screenshots from animation by by andrew jeffrey wright and clare rojas
Full video here.
andrew jeffrey wright interview by XLR8R TV.
andrew jeffrey wright interview by woodshopfilms
andrew jeffrey wright is an artist living and working in philadelphia, pa. he is the co-founder of space 1026, an artist run studio and gallery space which i photographed on a recent visit to philly (see photographs here). unfortunately i was not able to set up any studio visits with the space 1026 artists because of a scheduling mishap with one of the residents, but maybe next time i venture down south i will be lucky enough to peek into a few more space 1026 studios!
I went to Philly last weekend on a mission to celebrate my birthday and eat lots of delicious foods (mucho success!), take some photographs (mo’ success!), see some art at out of the way, artist-run galleries, like Flux Space and Little Berlin (total fail!*), and do studio visits** with a bunch of the artists at Space 1026. Things did not work out exactly as planned at Space 1026 but I did manage to get a tour of the space and a peek into a few people’s studios. Thanks so much, Leah, Bonnie, and Thom!
SPACE 1026—THE COMMON SPACES:::
(years of buildup of silkscreened prints makes for lovely texture!)
SPACE 1026—THE STUDIOS:::
Leah Mackin’s studio, see more of her work here.
Bonnie Brenda Scott’s studio, see more of her work here.
More about the studio and gallery space at Space 1026 here.
*I made the mistake of assuming their gallery spaces would be open and trekked out to their slightly sketchy locales. Disappointed that both were closed, next time I know to call ahead and schedule something.