ARE WE HAVING FUN?
Recap of an artshow presented by Pointer X Lodown
For the last ten years, Pointer Footwear and Lodown Magazine have been collaborative partners in crime, so obviously such a relationship lays an almost perfect foundation to initiate an exhibition to celebrate a decade of art-affine transition for both parties involved. As a result - and on the occasion of another ten year old celebratee: the Berlin Gallery Weekend - the exhibition titled “ARE WE HAVING FUN?“ was launched.
Thomas Marecki, founder and editor of Lodown, didn’t only exhibit work of his own, but operated as the exhibition’s curator as well, which was held in the legendary 95Gallery Berlin... a spot where Marecki already organized several exhibitions between 2005 and 2006.
How did the collaboration between Pointer and Lodown actually come about?
In 2013 Pointer had a group exhibition in New York’s Hole Gallery, which I really liked a lot. There was no product placement, and the art was free of any advertising message. I thought that was remarkable for a relatively small company like Pointer. I’ve only seen such restraint from much larger cultural institutions or funds, who don’t know any different. Who wants to see an exhibition organized by a bank promoting itself? In this respect, I’m very happy that Pointer has asked me to curate this exhibition to celebrate their 10-year anniversary.
How do you define fun?
Fun = fun. I have nothing remarkable to add to the usual definition.
Then where does the fun stop?
Fun is endless, as David Foster Wallace postulated in his last book, but it should never cause anyone physical harm. It’s fun for me to question religion, or any kind of human hierarchies. As a matter of fact I find this legitimate and necessary.
What inspired you to do the exhibition “Are We Having Fun?“...
For me, humour is an essential part of serious reflection. Obviously you can’t apply this premise to everything... certainly not in German Betroffenheitskino (guilt-fuelled cinema). The question “Are we having fun?“ as an exhibition title is pretty straightforward, even though it leaves all answers open and therefore gives the artists total freedom. This is rather essential, especially in the context of Berlin’s Gallery Weekend, where it competes against sales and other economic aspects of the art-world... one should view this exhibition at face value and should use it for a personal discourse with society.
What does the question trigger in you?
At first the question seems simple, but it also fuels your inner conflict. Our society, especially Western fun-filled society, has reduced fun down to something almost meaningless. We are now in an era of “LOL CATS“. Undiluted fun defines the majority of our communication channels, and can lead to states like Huxley’s or Orwell’s dystopias, where all sense of irony is forgotten, making it easier for the machine to control us.
Under which criteria did you choose the artists?
It was important to me that their work showed a playful aspect, rather than being dead serious. For me, art should be tangible and comprehensible, without metaphysical or academically crafted constructs. But that doesn’t mean that I reject conceptual art. I find Joseph Beuys’ work to be full of humour for example, even if others disagree. This also applies to Kippenberger’s works that are just as interesting, full of wit and irony. I regard humour as a key to self-sacrifice, which contributes to great works of art. As a result I’ve chosen artists that I know to have a good sense of humour.
Is it difficult to be an exhibiting artist and curator at the same time?
I think it’s a bonus to be able to exhibit work and explore this very open topic with other artists. It’s very exciting to see what the others are doing, and to consider and reflect on the end result.
This guy is a sly one. His activities to date include involvement with numerous art collectives such as the Mimetic Club and the Bench Boys, lecturing at Stuttgart’s Merz Academy, working as a design supervisor for a research magazine at the University of Cincinnati USA, being an art director at Dummy and Lodown magazine, and a lot more. He is also rather funny, but focussed, as demonstrated in his essay “Slippery Design“, in which he puts the concept “form follows function“ in question. His calculated dilettantism carefully shakes existing design dogmas and restrictions. In his outrageously designed CV, the forward includes words of praise from Stefan Sagmeister (among others) who says: “Manuel’s work is fun, intelligent and beautiful“.
Thomas Subreville and Leonard Vernhet met while working for the French skateboard magazine “Chill“. Having decided to continue working together, they founded Ill-Studio around ten years ago. They now have a packed portfolio full of name-drop clients such as Louis Vuitton, Lacoste Live and Nike, as well as Tigersushi, Colette, and many others. At the beginning of 2014 they had an exhibition titled “Fetishistic Scopophilia“ at Colette, serving as a tribute to pop culture product design. Besides Subreville and Vernhet, Ill-Studio features other artists and designers such as Pierre Dixsautand and Thierry Audurand. Together they reject the term “collective“, preferring to work as one source and one spirit.
Born in Terre Haute, Indiana, Zhivago Duncan has lived in Saudi Arabia, Malta, the USA and France. This artist with Syrian/Danish roots is a true citizen of the world. After finishing at London’s Chelsea College of Art and Design, he moved to Berlin, and it is these varied cultural influences that have freed his work from the usual dictates and dogmas. Experimenting with different materials, and with the interdisciplinary work of painting, photography, film and sculpture, Duncan has developed a strong urge for exploring new ideas. In 2011 he took part in a group exhibition at London’s Saatchi Gallery, and is currently preparing a multimedia piece produced in Jordan. Then there is “As the Jungle Weeps“ at the Jamm Art Gallery in Dubai, for which he took the time to camp with Bedouins, and to explore the deserts of Aqaba and Wadi Rum.
If the name Manuel Osterholt doesn’t immediately ring a bell with you, then the one of his alter ego certainly will: SuperBlast. The Berliner was first known for his graffiti before he turns his major interest towards fine art. Osterholt finds inspiration in everyday chaos, but not just in Berlin, as one can see in his photo-series “Sleep is the Cousin of Death“ for which he has photographed ownerless, dicarded matresses in Buenes Aires, New York and Moscow.
Born in Koblenz, studied graphic design in Dortmund, a stop over at Barcelona’s Faculty of Fine Arts, and stranded at the University of Arts in Berlin. That’s the breakdown of Clemens Behr’s story until now. Whoever cites Kurt Schwitters, Gordon Matta Clark, and the Transformers TV series in the same breath like Behr does, has to have a strong sense of fun, and the courage to do things differently. Cornerstones of Behr’s work are improvisation and building materials, from which space filling installations are made in such a way that the viewer expects to see a “No Entry“ sign in front. Everything is temporary, such as rooms that look like earthquake debris, occasionally accompanied by framed scrap objects, like in the “Splitter“ exhibition from 2013 in Berlin's Gestalten Space Gallery
This Russian born artist lives in Frankfurt am Main, where, after her studies at the Goethe University, she also studied visual communication at the Offenbach College of Design. From 2011 to 2012 she was involved with the musicians Arno Vöker and Miguel Ayala from the band Einzelkind, in the label project Jax. The Jax concept was a relaxed combination of music and visual art that went way beyond the cover artwork. Kunz’s new works focus on textile dyes and acrylic, on freely hung unframed canvases.
The Düsseldorf resident was born in Sweden, has lived in Tokyo and New York, and is a Master student of the Düsseldorf Art Academy, as well as Master of Fine Arts at the Parsons School of Design. This is just a small part of his academic career, which he stopped in the mid 80s, the time when most other artists involved in this exhibition were born. This makes it even more difficult to give an adequate resumé of his work, especially when considering the recently published book “The Red Line“ by Hatje Cantz, in which there are around 300 pages written about Geismar and his work. Incidentally Geismar has an exhibition titled “Feeling My Own Blood“, which is on display until June 14th at the Jiri Svestka Gallery, Berlin.
Doppeldenk is an art collective featuring Marcel Baer and Andreas Glauch. The name (Doublethink), comes from George Orwell’s foreboding vision of the future. The two artists hail from Leipzig, have known each other since the 90s club scene, and have worked together under the name Doppeldenk for around five years by now. Both are fans oft he graphic style oft he C64 and 80s era Amiga computers, as well as street art from 80s East Germany, where Stan Lathan’s film “Beat Street“ played an important role, as it was categorized by the government of the German Democratic Republic as a statement against the imperialistic system. By the way, “Beat Street“ was made in 1984, bringing the Doublethink circle to a close. Looking at the graphic works of these Leipzig boys, it is all too easy to see the elements mentioned above. “es everything is so colourful here“, hums Nina Hagen in your head, “until you take a second look“.