Bianca Felix artists filmmaker Berlin Bert Spangemacher

Original Thinking

Interview Justin Ross
Photography BERT SPANGEMACHER

In our age of information inspiration is at our fingertips. But where does true originality come from? We selected some of the most forward-thinking, creative, and authentic innovators in art, design, fashion, and culture to tell us about their perspective on the defining qualities of originality. Innovative, essential, exciting, or eccentric, these are people who are relying on their roots and paving their own way in a world full of strong competition.

BIANCA KENNEDY & FELIX KRAUS, ARTISTS & FILMMAKERS in Berlin
Future Ideas Film | Exposing Big Ideas In Short Films

“I let feelings (rather than ideas) for new projects come to me and try to give them new life with the use of virtual / augmented reality, writing, and analog practices.”

Bianca Felix artists filmmaker Berlin Bert Spangemacher
swancollective.com
biancakennedy.com

What is your latest film The Lives Beneath about?
It’s the third film of our futuristic ‘LIFE 3.0 – cycle.’ The Lives Beneath depicts a world in the year 4000. Everything in nature gets merged into one single mind. Plants, animals and human beings form a worldwide super-network of consciousness. We examine the downfall of a society that refuses to live with nature in harmony. But on the other side is a self-conscious planet, which suffers from the burden of having to think for all eternity.

Where do you look for inspiration?
Bianca: While I love researching in books for my projects, I don’t think that inspiration will just slip into you. Most of the time being an artist is a real job and it’s important to keep working—even and especially if it gets hard or feels like a waste of time. Most of the time when proceeding, new ideas will come and enrich the piece.

Felix: I’m deeply interested in quantum mechanics and their implications on what we perceive as reality. As a convinced panpsychist (universal mind hypothesis), I believe that everything that exists is pure mentation. The realm of consciousness only encoding what we think to be matter, time, and space. I read a lot of books about those topics. Together with the practice of lucid dreaming, I let feelings (rather than ideas) for new projects come to me and try to give them new life with the use of virtual/augmented reality, writing, and analog practices.

Felix artists filmmaker Berlin Bert Spangemacher
swancollective.com
biancakennedy.com

Do you think of original being “essential” or “innovative”?
Bianca: I realized that my pieces always tend to stick out a little, if you compare them to others. A little more color, more playful, or more details. Maybe because I don’t restrict myself by having to fulfill a certain attitude or style, I can act more freely on my ideas, also accepting quirky or childish thoughts, while combining them with dark humor or disturbing images.

Felix: The pursuit of originality is something that drives me from early on. Of course it’s somewhat pretentious to label your own work original. But at least in my artistic practice, I’ve always tried to find something that nobody has done before. Virtual and augmented reality are therefore a perfect playground for me, since in a new medium it’s way easier to walk on un trodden paths.

What advice do you have for people to stand out from the crowd?
Bianca: Stop trying to be cool. Coolness is boring and a protective cover, that doesn’t add to a thoughtful conversation, event, or relationship. In the long run it’s so much more interesting to not try so hard and have some fun. Who cares what the crowd thinks?

Felix: I would like artists to become a little more humble. It’s a profession that is crucial to society, but some tend to expect too much love and acceptance from everybody else. Everybody’s struggling to find their own way through life and nobody’s better than someone else. In these days I think you stand out not by screaming the loudest, but by listening quietly.

Tell us about your favorite eyewear and why?
Felix: Although I’m the biggest believer in Virtual Reality and it’s future potential, the real game changer might become AR glasses like Hololens or Magic Leap. While still in its infancy, the visions are real. The augmentation of our environment will someday be so normal like TV or internet. I just try to stay ahead of the game and steer into a positive future together with all of the possibilities.

Bianca Felix artists filmmaker Berlin Bert Spangemacher
swancollective.com
biancakennedy.com

More at: www.biancakennedy.com / www.swancollective.com

Nao Tamura Industrial Designer KYLE DOROSZ

Original Thinking

In our age of information inspiration is at our fingertips. But where does true originality come from? We selected some of the most forward-thinking, creative, and authentic innovators in art, design, fashion, and culture to tell us about their perspective on the defining qualities of originality. Innovative, essential, exciting, or eccentric, these are people who are relying on their roots and paving their own way in a world full of strong competition.

NAO TAMURA, INDUSTRIAL DESIGNER in New York
Design Cross-cultural Nature | A design original with influences from all over

“My design approach always stems from people’s real needs, and technology and innovation help to visualize the concept.”

Nao Tamura Industrial Designer KYLE DOROSZ
Eyewear by Barton Perreira

You design (some of which is shown here) is known to hold a rare balance of innovation and beauty. Your creations are art, more than product design. You have worked with various independent design brands such as Hem, WonderGlass, nanimarquina and many more, and have received a number of prestigious design awards such as IF Design Award, Red Dot Award to name a few. What makes your design original?
My skills involve cross-over cultures, languages, disciplines, concepts, and styles. I am global in my insights and execution. As a product of Tokyo and New York City creative communities, my solutions are equally at ease in the world of 2-D and 3-D with an uncanny ability to find that emotional connection with the audience, that makes my design original.

What have you learned from your design practice that translates to your daily life?
I worked for a design studio in NYC where I was involved with easy to use products for people with arthritis. Products like this may appear rather low key at first glance, but once you use them you realise just how dramatically their design improves their ease of use and makes people’s lives easier. So this is the basis of my design process. My design approach always stems from people’s real needs, and technology and innovation help to visualise the concept. Naturally, good looks also come into it. People want a product that works well and looks beautiful.

Nao Tamura Industrial Designer KYLE DOROSZ

What were the most difficult challenges along the way?
Design takes up a considerable part of my life. When I was in Japan, I literally spent all day thinking about design. That was fun at the time but I didn’t like the fact that I didn’t have a choice. I could either devote my life to being a designer or become a housewife (?!). Besides, design by someone who’s constantly immersed in design can look rather fantastical and disconnected from reality. Some people may think that design that does away with the sense of domestic living is cool, but I want to cherish the perspective that can only be revealed through day-to-day living. Thus; keeping the balance between work and private life is always a challenge for me.

Where do you look for inspiration?
Many of my projects are inspired by nature. I believe there is a strong connection between Japanese culture and nature. I have become more conscious of nature since I left Japan. The idea of appreciating each season and enjoying nature’s bounty has entered into our culinary culture. Perhaps becoming keenly aware of the importance of nature after leaving Japan has gradually become manifest in my design.

Nao Tamura Industrial Designer KYLE DOROSZ

In ten years where do you want to be?
In ten years, I would like to teach or speak more through my experiences as a designer to the younger designers, especially female designers in Japan. I feel it’s my mission to tell them how important to be independent and break the stereotype against women. I want them to see the bigger picture outside the little island.

Tell us about your favorite eyewear and why?
I don’t wear eyewear except sunglasses (for now!). But I always like eyewear from Anne & Valentin. I would like to wear them someday. I like their design and a choice of materials.

Nao Tamura Industrial Designer KYLE DOROSZ
Eyewear by Barton Perreira

Eyewear by BARTON PERREIRA

www.naotamura.com

Murray Gaylard glasses RETROSUPERFUTURE JJG Charlotte Krauss

The New Vanguard – Artist Profile 10: MURRAY GAYLARD

Interview JUSTIN ROSS
Photography CHARLOTTE KRAUSS

Murray Gaylard is a Berlin-based artist originally from South Africa with a studio at the Kindl Brauerei in the creative epicenter for artists that is Neukölln.
Murray’s work walks a line between playful and serious, covering both personal and political topics with a whimsical approach to his conceptual art practice in diverse media. He manages to express sincerity and a genuine light-heartedness that he makes use of as a platform to expose intimate feelings such as exuberance, ego, isolation, and insecurity.
His work is bright and cheerful and at times even openly irreverent. Like open secrets, scribbled notes and self-confessions they divulge information about himself or observations about the world—the not-so-dark thoughts that we still for some reason often keep to ourselves.
He has just concluded an extremely successful solo show at Phillipp Pflug Contemporary, his gallery in Frankfurt, and we got the chance to meet up with him at his studio in Berlin.

Name: Murray Gaylard
Age: 44
Nationality: South Africa
Medium: Multidisciplinary
Based in: Berlin
more: Murray Garland // Philipp Pflug Contemporary in Frankfurt

Murray is wearing RETROSUPERFUTURE T2F, RETROSUPERFUTURE JJG, COBLENS AUTOPILOT

Did you always know that you were going to be an artist?
No. When I was a boy, everyone thought I would become a writer. I have always loved language. But that is also evident in my work as a visual artist. I studied Industrial Psychology because it seemed like a realistic career choice. But I wasn’t made for the corporate world. I could never have somebody telling me what to do.

You are originally from South Africa but you have lived and worked in Frankfurt and now Berlin. What made you decide to study art in Germany?
I moved to Frankfurt for a man I met on the beach in Cape Town. He ended up being a real asshole, but, you know, I was here, so I stayed. I was married when I decided to study art. My husband and I—obviously not the asshole—were having a bit of a slump in our relationship, and so we decided to do something together that would feel like a mutual project. So we did a course at the Volkshochschule called “Malen für Unbegabte,” which translates as “painting for people with no talent.” It’s the first time I had picked up a paintbrush since primary school, and I feel like I never put it down again. My passion for art ended up killing my marriage. There was really only space for one or the other! I took a watercolor course with a girl who had studied at the Städelschule and she suggested I apply. So I did. And I got in. Which is crazy, considering I hadn’t thought of myself as an artist until that moment. I know this sounds all fluffy and unicorns, but it really felt like it was meant to be. It just lined up so effortlessly.

Do you find the artworld cutthroat and competitive, or is it also supportive and community-minded, or something in between?
That’s a difficult question, because obviously my artist friends are supportive, and many of the curators I know are really amazing people. But studying at the Städelschule made it very clear to me that it’s about success. The school is so small, so everyone knows who is exhibiting and who is not. I mean it’s an amazing institution, don’t get me wrong. But the students were mostly wankers. Lots of backstabbing and people who love your work in front of your face, gossiping about you behind your back. Unfortunately, this made me keep to myself a lot. I even made a piece about the pressure to succeed that is now in the MMK collection called “Look mom, I’m famous.” In it, I took interviews with famous artists in magazines like Frieze or Flash Art, and I tipp-exed out their answers, replacing them with my own—as if I were the artist being interviewed.

Identity and observation are two cornerstones of your work. Are you observing yourself or other people?
I think when you observe other people you are always observing yourself. You understand your filters and so better understand who you are.

Does art always need to be relevant? Is there a place for aesthetic indulgence, or do politics come into play in your motivation?
My work is always relevant and extremely socially critical. I grew up a queer, feminine, white boy in a small town in the Apartheid South Africa. It would be impossible for my work to not touch on relevant social themes. I do, however, have a sneaky passion that comes up every now and then where I just paint something beautiful. But I keep it to myself really. My best friend, Romano, always laughs when I start doing abstract paintings. He’s like “not again!” No. The last thing the world needs is another beautiful painting. Someone’s living room might need it, but not the world. I think that if I had to paint large abstract canvases they would probably be good. But it would be irresponsible to invest my time in something purely aesthetic. I have a lot more in me than that.

What is next for you, an immediately upcoming project or chance to see your work?
Currently, I am working on a show that will open on the fourth of October, at the Gräflicher Park in Bad Driburg. I have a talking street lamp that pays you a compliment when you walk under it. It will be installed in the park, and will be in good company, with Michael Sailsdorfer and Jeppe Hein as neighbors. I will also be showing a series of collages, which I am very excited about. When Annabelle Countess von Oeynhausen-Sierstorpff—who is organising the show—first started speaking about installing the lamp, she mentioned that she had lots of old etchings that she didn’t know what to do with and whether I could use them somehow. Some of them are three hundred years old. It’s been an incredible experience to take them out of their old frames and work on them. I’ve completely pimped these old, heavy, biblical and daunting prints into a commentary on contemporary culture. I can’t wait to show them.

Where do you see yourself in ten years’ time, or what is a dream project you would love to work on?
Honestly, if I don’t have a solo show at the Tate Modern by then, I’ll be dropping acid and sipping Pina Coladas on a tropical beach somewhere. An artist really only has so much patience!

Sonnenbrille von KBL LANCASTER

The New Vanguard – Artist Profile: MARC VAN DER HOCHT

Interview JUSTIN ROSS
Fotografie CHARLOTTE KRAUSS

4SEE puts a spotlight on young artists from the international art scene whom we deeply admire for their explosive talent and limitless creativity. We respect them even more for their tenacity in the face of overwhelming odds of fame and success in the hypercompetitive artworld. Their incomparable ability to let us share in feelings, emotions, ideas, issues, and concepts that count make us want to take a second and third look at their work. But it is their genuine passion for their art that comes through when you speak with these heavyweights of the art world in Berlin and New York—two of the cultural capitals of the world.

Age 37, but far from grown-up
Nationality German
Medium painting, collage, objects & installation
Based in Berlin
find more at www.marcvonderhocht.de / und semjoncontemporary.com

Sonnenbrille von KBL LANCASTER
Sonnenbrille von KBL LANCASTER

Did you always know that you were going to be an artist?

I knew the moment I first opened the FatCap Magazin – New York Issue, a magazine about graffiti that was really hard to get back then. I was 15. The dynamics and sweeping styles on huge walls and trains had me spellbound. Ever since that day I just knew that I had to be involved with artistic processes.

Do you find the artworld cutthroat and competitive, or is it also supportive and community-minded, or something in between?

It is just like the music industry. There is a big range from dominant major labels that only care about profit and stop for nothing, to small, lovingly operated independent labels that support talented artists and pour their heart and soul into their work. Everything in combination leads to a huge money making circus, where new sensations and records pop up every single day.
I myself, being just a small a cog in the machine, have been very lucky so far. I got to travel to interesting places and got to meet inspiring people through my work. I went to Shanghai, Rotterdam and recently to New York and always had a great time.

What would you consider to be your biggest accomplishment so far?

Awards and sales are of course very important and highly motivating, but I am honestly most thrilled about exciting exhibitions. I love the chance to arrange my work in a room and create a dialogue between themselves and the space. With that said I think my biggest solo exhibition up to date, Vitruv in the Werkstättengalerie of the Deutsche Werkstätten Hellerau, which was shown at the beginning of this year, was a peak in my career.

Does art always need to be relevant? Is there a place for aesthetic indulgence, or do politics come into play in your motivation?

Artwork should confront the viewer with the unknown and show them a new perspective. But this could be done with something banal or seemingly irrelevant. Confronting ourselves with such phenomena aids us in both self-reflection and emancipating ourselves to become mature personalities. Maturity in turn is a prerequisite for political efforts. In light of this, even geometric abstract art can have political implications. Ultimately, no shape or colour exists without meaning. Even simple symbols like a circle are part of a visual culture and bear a meaning.

If not politics, then what are the key sources of inspiration for you? 

This world is full of wonder, I just have to keep my eyes open and keep marveling at the world like a child, there are always new things to discover. That way I realized how a certain repertoire of shapes percolates my urban surroundings. There is a basic vocabulary of shapes used for designing objects which runs like a common thread through our world. I recognized analogies between the shape of the lighter on my desk and the design of towering skyscrapers in Pudong, Shanghai. The structure of circuit boards closely resembles the road network of a city, at least when you are taking a look from above with a satellite. Such phenomena, which are characterized by self-similarity on a grand and a small scale, are called fractals. And this is where my work begins.

What is it like to live/work in Berlin?

When we first came to Berlin about eight years ago, it actually kind of was against our intention. The hype was too much and everybody wanted to come here. That fact on its own was off-putting. Luckily we still ended up here because of readily available child care, a place at the Universität der Künste, and the at that time cheap rents. It was definitively the right decision. I cannot imagine a better place to live and work in. Because of relatively low living costs, the work does not have to focus on selling and profits, like it has to in cities like London and New York. Over there, the pressure is on to cash in on your work.

What is next for you, an immediately upcoming project or chance to see your work?

Until the release of this issue my new website with comprehensive material about my work will hopefully be finished. Apart from that I am taking care of final preparations for my upcoming exhibitions.

Where do you see yourself in ten years’ time, where would you like to see your artwork and at what scale?

OMG! In ten years I will be going on 50, I would rather not think about that now. Instead, I will try focusing on the present and pursuing my path at my own pace. By the way, I will of course be stunningly good-looking, in perfect shape and an internationally renowned artist.

Sonnenbrille von MICHAEL KORS 0MK2048

The new Vanguard – Artist Profile: CHLOE GROVE

Interview JUSTIN ROSS
Photography ROBERT BEYER

4SEE puts a spotlight on young artists from the international art scene whom we deeply admire for their explosive talent and limitless creativity. We respect them even more for their tenacity in the face of overwhelming odds of fame and success in the hypercompetitive artworld. Their incomparable ability to let us share in feelings, emotions, ideas, issues, and concepts that count make us want to take a second and third look at their work. But it is their genuine passion for their art that comes through when you speak with these heavyweights of the art world in Berlin and New York—two of the cultural capitals of the world.

CHLOE GROVE
Age 35
Nationality British
Medium Coloured pencil on paper
Based in Berlin, Germany
Find more at chloegrove.com

Sonnenbrille von MICHAEL KORS 0MK2048
Sonnenbrille von MICHAEL KORS 0MK2048

Did you always know that you were going to be an artist?

Growing up, my parents were designers working from home so I was surrounded by artistic activity from the beginning. I started drawing in their studio with the abundance of materials available when I was very small so I was always pretty sure it would be a part of my life in one form or another.

Do you find the artworld cutthroat and competitive, or is it also supportive and community-minded, or something inbetween?

On the whole, my experiences so far have been very positive. I find that if the reception I get isn’t such then it is best to just forget about it and try a different avenue. I get a lot of inspiration from other artists I have met who are further along than me who have been warm, encouraging and insightful. I have also encountered gallerists and curators who truly believe in nurturing emerging talent. It is, of course, a very competitive industry but, for me, it is all about searching for the right people and building relationships with them.

What would you consider to be your biggest accomplishment so far?

I spent a number of years experimenting with different media: painting, printmaking, sculpture, and then developed a relatively unorthodox way of working with coloured pencils which took a significant amount of time to really get to grips with. Striving to become a draughtsperson whereby creative output can then emerge intuitively in a learned language is certainly something I am happy I invested so much into. It is, however, definitely something which is always, as it should be, in-progress.

Does art always need to be relevant? Is there a place for aesthetic indulgence, or do politics come into play in your motivation?

In these seemingly crazy political times, there is a propensity towards feeling art has to incorporate politics in order to be relevant but there is also room for pure visual escapism. Considering the rise of camera phones, instagram and the prevalence of image-manipulation software, I think aesthetic indulgence in art is relevant as a commentary on today’s society. I try to emphasise this aesthetic focus by producing large-format, tangible manifestations of digitally-inspired imagery as a reaction to the stream of instantaneous visual information we are so used to viewing, mostly on tiny screens. 

If not politics, then what are the key sources of inspiration for you? 

I feel being the age I am and witnessing the watershed of the digital revolution first-hand is a massive inspiration. I saw my family, as designers, alongside their contemporaries, having to make the leap into the unknown and saw the effect it had on those who went with it and those who tried to resist. I try to always incorporate into my work the two points in time, the before and after digitalisation. I believe we are on the verge of another watershed now with what we understand about the essence of matter and the universe: the work at facilities like the Large Hadron Collider and through ever-advancing space exploration which also stimulates my imagination and which I reference in my drawings.

What is it like to live/work in Berlin?

Berlin is a rapidly evolving city which is exciting to witness firsthand. There is a tendency to throw around terms like ‘gentrification’ and complain about the rising cost of living but I continue to find it a very inspiring place to be. I still encounter great aspects of the place, both historical and recently established, which are new to me all the time. I was lucky that I managed to find a studio here when I did, in 2009. If I was trying to follow the same path, to come here and have the freedom to really experiment and not have to rush to make what I do instantly economically viable, then I think it would be much more difficult now.

What is next for you, an immediately upcoming project or chance to see your work?

I have work on show currently at Galleri Heike Arndt in Berlin until the end of September. Aside from that there are at least two more upcoming exhibitions in the pipeline for this year about which I will release details on my website very soon.

Where do you see yourself in ten years’ time, where would you like to see your artwork and at what scale?

Within the next few years I hope to be able to exhibit outside Europe, to produce work in response to encountering a culture new to me such as Japan. I want to continue to produce larger, more meticulous drawings in coloured pencil and advance the new technique I am currently developing which evokes the crystallization patterns found in iron meteorites. Further into the future, I would love to send a physical piece of work into space and let it drift out into the cosmos or to have an exhibition on the moon! 

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