South African born conceptual artist Adrian Hermanides understands art as a means to expand the limits of subjectivity in order to affect social change. Hermanides is interested in portraying punctured, fluid and mobile states that convey a certain softening of the borders. Sexuality and humor are a recurring theme in his work, as well as deflation and retraction. In Eredep, Hermanides shows a blown-glass bubble filled with exhaust fumes. The bubble is attached to the wall by its tip that resembles a penis, leaving the rest of the bubble to look like an enlarged scrotum. In the found object installation Alms for Birds, Hermanides displays the meticulously sorted contents of a dead person’s apartment. Lifelong collecting and accumulating become a stand-in for the owner and a projection screen for the life they may have lead, left to the viewer’s scrutiny.
Aude Pariset manipulates everyday objects in her examination of the connections between design and origin. Between deadpan, dark humor and intrinsic nostalgia, her appropriation of pop-culture data is a nod towards information mash-ups and other such digital goings on. With the origins of an object rendered meaningless in the process of mass production and globalization, it is adaptations, combinations and contexts, Pariset seems to suggest, that allow us to express our individuality today. The Versailles-born artist takes the most banal items and re-imagines them in her sculptures and installations, distorting all recognizable features to leave us with objects that are strangely mutated yet familiar. Her piece hooked/don’t last(care) for example, re-appropriates Lee Lozano’s famous Peel from 1964, giving the diptych the ideal shape for a skating ramp.
Photographer Frank Hülsbömer is often called a perfectionist and praised for his meticulously staged images. Indeed their level of technical perfection makes many of them look like computer renderings, and some look like apparatus in physics experiments. Yet there is always a subtle humor at work, which keeps them from feeling dry. Take the two lamps in the tennis speed of light playing tennis with their reflections, the series Sexual peeling where a strip of paper is photographed in the various stages of peeling off a wall, and note how the use of cheap, everyday materials contrasts with their elaborate, straight-laced depiction. Hülsbömer’s works have been referred to as “still lives”, but the term doesn’t sit well. Inanimate as the subjects may be, they seem to breathe and move. Instead of looking immaculately arranged, they convey the impression of having been captured at exactly the right moment, when everything falls into place, just so.
Bernhard Willhelm gave us a quick interview just minutes before embarking on a gymnastic floor drill. We gave him 8 points for the shoulder stand and ran the image in the magazine. But we wouldn’t want to keep the rest away from you! So we put them on our website. More images after the interview.
The first German designer to come out of Antwerp’s Royal Academy of Fine Arts, Bernhard Willhelm belongs to the so-called second generation of designers who continue the avant-garde legacy of the Antwerp Six. But while these designers opted for London, Willhelm headed for Paris. Though Berlin is not necessarily on his axis of fashion cities, his biggest show to date was held here in 2009. “It was a one-of-a-kind experience. We had to think big, very big, to fill the space. In Paris it’s the other way around, you have to consider the limits of both budget and space.”
This winter, he returned to Berlin to participate in a show curated by the Antwerp fashion museum MoMu, alongside Peter Pilotto, Henrik Vibskov and MikioSakabe. Willhelm collaborated closely with the museum to which he donated ten pieces from each of his collections. Would he consider doing a show in Berlin again? “What works in Berlin is sportswear, jeans and Scandinavian labels. The culture of high fashion doesn’t exist here, not since World War II. It’s difficult for young designers; they show good collections but at the end of the day, who sees them? The international press doesn’t come here.”
What binds him to Berlin however is the flourishing art scene. “We often collaborate with Berlin artists. Karsten Fock did our logos and invites, we worked with Marc Brandenburg and I collaborated on the first issue of Butt magazine with Wolfgang Tillmans. It was my contribution to showing nudity in fashion.”