What is the most contemporary form of artist expression today?
German private art collector Julia Stoschek has provided her answer in a new landmark exhibition in Berlin, launching June 2nd.
Stoschek founded the Julia Stoschek Collection
in Düsseldorf in 2007 and her acquisitions have always had a focus on what she describes as "post-internet time-based media art" -- in real terms: video, photography, installation and performance art. The collection is currently some 700 pieces-strong, primarily featuring artists from Europe and the United States.
The exhibition in Berlin's Mitte district, at Leipiziger Strasse 60, is being framed as a satellite showing of the collection, previously only housed permanently in Düsseldorf.
In the exhibition, titled "Welt Am Draht" (World on a Wire -- inspired by the two-part 1973 TV movie produced by German filmmaker Rainer Werner Fassbinder that borrowed its plot from "Simulacron 3", a novel by American Sci-fi writer Daniel F. Galouye), 20 artists are showcasing 38 works.
Of the 38 pieces, ranging from video installations, virtual animated real-time simulations, photography and live performances by the likes of Jon Rafman
, Rachel Rose
, Ian Cheng
, Hannah Black
and more, 36 are new, never before shown acquisitions by Stoschek.
Spread over a vast space of multiple rooms and levels almost entirely swathed in a large white curtain (to allow for the audience to immerse themselves in the video installations), the exhibition building was converted by Berlin-based architect Johanna Meyer-Grohbrügge.
CNN Style met with Stoscheck two days before the public opening to tour the exhibition and delve into the ultra-modern world of post-internet art.
What draws you to this realm of the art world?
Stoscheck: Since Gutenburg invented the book press there hasn't been a more radical social or cultural change in history -- the digitization of the internet.
In the digital age, full of generated images, the task of art has changed so radically. So the function of art is not mainly to create new images but to seek reflection. And I think post-internet art is doing that in a very special way.
What I really tried to do with the collection is to create an image of the social and cultural conditions of the [digital native] generation. That's the reason why I collect contemporary art, especially time-based media and now post-internet art.
What defines a 'post-internet' artist?
Most [of the artists in the show] were born in the 1980s, so let's say they are digital natives. And these artists work in a totally different way, they are using an entirely new artistic language.
They are also used to working in collaboration. They are not only focused on the artistic production, but they are orientated towards science, towards philosophical discourses. They also love the idea of sharing. Think about it, social community -- everything gets shared.
Why Berlin, why now?
We'll be celebrating our 10th anniversary in Düsseldorf next year and so we decided now is the time to open a second space. Berlin is not only the capital, it's the cultural capital city and most of the artists in the show live and work in Berlin.
Berlin is the city of start-ups, it's the media city so I thought it's the right place to install a media installation.
We are always trying to make art more accessible to a wider audience. And for sure in Berlin there are more international visitors. I I have no idea how it will work out, it's an experiment, it's a satellite. We rented the room until the end of the year and I would like to extend my activities here. I love the space and, if it's possible and if it works out well, I would like to do more shows here in this special space.
How do you approach the acquisition process? How do you find your artists?
I try to follow artists over a long period of time. I do not collect 100 different pieces from 100 different artists but I really like to follow them over years and years and I try to acquire, let's say, masterpieces... it sounds very easy but it not -- I'm looking for key pieces, large-scale installations and to build a group of works.
What I always try to do, I mean this is how I built up the collection, if I have one or two artists in a collection, I like to ask them who they think is interesting. As I mentioned before it's about collaboration. I love to get advice from the artists.
, who are in the collection, call themselves an agency, not artists. Why did you include them in the exhibition? Are they artists? Where's the line?
We are interested in current artists practice including other approaches than just 'the artist'. K-Hole deal with artistic issues and imagery which is why we've included them. We are interested in political works and performative works too, and look for other protagonists from the art world.
(Left: Ed Atkins, "Us Dead Talk Love" 2012. Two-channel HD video installation, 7'24'', colour, sound. Courtesy of the artist and Cabinet, London)
What are some of the challenges around conserving digital art?
The most evident change over the last decades is the technical aspect. For collectors there was and still is significant trepidation about art that is, first of all, easily reproduced and second, sustained by a technological medium.
Furthermore, presenting video art is time, cost and space-intensive. The greatest challenge however lies in its proper archiving, which constantly increases in complexity. Media and carriers have modernized rapidly and changed fundamentally in the last decades.
Of course, artists have also become aware of these procedures of archiving and collecting, and their particular challenges. So we are facing constantly evolving and changing strategies and circumstances, which keeps collecting video art fresh and intriguing.
Outside of the video and digital art worlds, who do you admire creatively?
Well, quite different, but I have a personal love for old master painters. Lucas Cranach
for example is one of my favorites.
What comes after post-Internet art?
I can't wait to see, but better ask the artists!
Welt Am Draht
runs June 2nd - September 18th 2016. To preview the exhibition scroll through the gallery above.