Interview with Alicja Kwade

Johannes Fricke Waldthausen
Apr 23, 2013 8:25PM

Alicja Kwade

b. 1979, lives in Berlin

Johannes Fricke Waldthausen: Why do so many artists come to Berlin, and what does the city mean to you personally?

Alicja Kwade: It is my home. I never lived so long at the same place, and I love it. Why all these people are moving in? Probably because of the same reasons I came: For most artists Berlin nowadays seems to be something like the promise land, where you can try to reach your dreams, yet it is still easier to start with, even with a low budget. Additionally, there are so many people from the creative industries and this is motivating more creative people to come here.

JFW: In the past, your work has focused on concepts of transformation, illusion, and deception, or stereotypes of value attributions—a "fake" materialism—like the coal bars you painted gold or the ordinary stones you arranged as gems. Can you explain these recurring themes?

AK: It’s never fake, as I am using real things—I am never using golden paint for example, but 24kt gold, because the meaning of it is important. I am trying to change the interpretation of things, that we are used to "reading" in a way we have been conditioned. The cut stones are still cut stones, they are the same stones, which they have been before, they are not more rare or valuable, they are not gemstones at all, they just have the cut, which we realize as a form connected to the idea of value and property. In that sense, I use recurring patterns, because I am interested in the construction of reality and how this is created by ourselves.

JFW: Can you tell me about your current exhibition at Johann König?

AK: It’s not an exhibition as usual, it’s a single project which fits perfect to the exhibition space being a church in its original condition. It’s a mechanic Foucault Pendulum. It is turning once a day against the direction of the Earth’s rotation. So, it’s the only thing which is staying still, while we are all rotating around with over 3000 km per hour. In the same moment, it is swinging like a pendulum, but without weight, which is usually needed to create that, but a simple light bulb. So mass is becoming energy in a way.

JFW: What is your favorite book these days and with what music do you work in the studio?

AK: I just read two books of the sociologist Elena Esposito. I really like the connections she is creating and the dependence between things like, money, reality, statistics, and time. I am working with music in the evenings, when everybody is out of the studio and nobody is calling me. Last year, I listened a lot to PJ Harvey, Austra, Kate Bush, Alela Diane, China Woman, Bowie, and Beethoven...

JFW: Are there any other artists you always wanted to meet?  Who inspires you as an artist ? 

AK: There are a lot of artists I really admire, dead and living, but I do not have the desire to meet them, this could be disappointing, I would prefer to observe them.

On view at Johann König April 27th through May 26th, 2013

Johannes Fricke Waldthausen