Interview with Timur Si-Qin

Johannes Fricke Waldthausen: When, and why, did you move to Berlin ?

Timur Si-Qin: I was actually born in Berlin and lived here until around the age of eight, at which point I moved to the States. I had known basically my whole life that one day I would return. So when I finished university I made the move back, about 4 ½ years ago. Berlin is in many ways my old home town as well as a new place all together.

JFW: Where is your studio located in Berlin?

TS: My studio is on Oranienstrasse very close to Kottbusser Tor. It’s an international neighborhood with a lot of character, that attracts many artists. So many artists have studios here.

JFW: You have an interesting background: You are German, ethnic Mongolian, Chinese-born, U.S.-raised, and now living in Berlin. How does this affect your perception of Berlin?

TS: My cultural identity has always been very fluid and contextual. Most of my social network in Berlin are American expats and in some ways I identify as that, but in other contexts, maybe at the grocery store or Bürgeramt, I am a Berliner. Living in America I never quite felt like an American either. I feel more American here than I do there. I think the advantage of having lived in all these places, Germany, China, and America is the realization that cultural codifications are largely arbitrary, like different cultural softwares, giving me more options and freedoms in thought.

JFW: What subjects do you find are recurring in your work?  

TS: I am very interested in evolution as the driving engine of the creation of form in the universe. I am interested in evolution from a philosophical “neo-materialist” perspective, believing all material to exhibit complex self-organizing behavior, as well as the evolutionary-psychological basis of art. Evolutionary psychology being an emerging lens under which psychology has been revamped in the last 20 years. To me an evolutionary lens is necessary to understanding the realist/materialist underpinnings of art.

JFW: What does your current practice look like, what are you currently working on?

TS: I often use contemporary commercial products in various assemblages in an effort to highlight their status as natural objects. With the underlying assumption that technology and culture are as much a product of nature as seashells and termite mounds.

JFW: You were born in 1984 and basically grew up with the Internet, which really started in 1989. In which way would you say that this “post-Internet” condition radiates into your practice?

TS: What I did quite a bit on the Internet as a teenager was play computer games. In many ways, play and building and exploring worlds plays a role in my artistic work. In other ways I think the Internet has been a tremendously useful platform to exhibit work and kindle one’s career.

JFW: What people are influences for you? Did any artists influence you particularly?

TS: I draw a lot of inspiration from the sciences and philosophy. I am an ardent fan of the neo-materialist philosopher Manuel De Landa, with whom I fortunately could publish an interview. Artistically, I am most inspired by my friends, who are mostly artists living in Berlin, like Nik Kosmas and Dan Keller, Yngve Holem, Juliette Bonneviot, Oliver Laric and Aleksandra Domanovic, and my girlfriend Kate.