Archiv: con_text_interview

7 days, 2 artists, 1 location: As part of the project CON_TEXT, two artists had one week to develop an event together at the Lettrétage

Poet and publisher Daniela Seel visits the CON_TEXR artists Kinga Tóth and Doro Billard at the Lettrétage. Translated from German by Elizabeth Toole.

Daniela Seel: The room seems immediately so different when you enter, we could start with that straight away. Various steps of different processes and utensils can be seen here – can you perhaps say something about what is going on here and what will happen.

Kinga Tóth: Ok. I should perhaps start with the texts. These texts on the floor all have a lot to do with water. That’s why we chose to work together. There was a CON_TEXT discussion round, not blind dates exactly but more like two minute dates – and for us it really was an immediate match.

Doro Billard: A topic which made us both think, “that’s exactly what I’m about”. And that’s where the obvious idea came about that we would work together. Kinga’s texts, so clearly about water, about women in water, in basins, about a woman who jumps into a tank, the whole theme of girls’ bodies, women’s bodies, it all really spoke to me.


Translated from German by Chester Underhill.


Daniela Seel: When you look around, you can see something’s already getting underway here…

Jochen Roller: You think so?

DS: Yeah, I think so, compared to the last time I was here…

JR: Great. That was the idea.

DS: Tell us what’s going on here.

JR: We’ve been here since Thursday. For both of us, our main objective was to really transform the space. When we came in, it was constructed to be a classic setting for readings.  Do you know how we came up with the room-within-a-room?


Daniela Seel was talking with Yevgenia Belorusets and Charlotte Warsen. Translated from German by Thomas Nießer.

Daniela Seel: Let’s start with something nice: What was your favorite moment of working together?

Charlotte Warsen: It was probably the jokes we were making as we went along… A lot of things did not work out for one reason or another and all taken together it was pretty funny.

Yevgenia Belorusets: The best moment for me was when we both understood what we could achieve here.

CW: When it became clear?

YB: Yes, when it became clear. That we had found a solution to the trap in which we had found ourselves.

DS: That is a pretty important keyword, trap. Why do you say trap?


Für die Deutsche Version klicken sie hier. / For the German version click here.

Prior to the sixth CON_TEXT event, Florian Neuner met with the artistic duo of Cristian Forte and Harald Muenz, to get to the bottom of the trash. Translated from the German by Thomas Nießer.


Florian Neuner: How did it come to be, Harald, that you ended up working with a second partner? Could you not decide?


Harald Muenz: No not at all. I came to it by sheer chance. The selection process was such that after the speed-dating we had to come up with a shortlist of three candidates and on my shortlist happened to be Cristian as well as Mathias Traxler. At some stage I got the news; You’re getting both! I didn’t question it but I was naturally very happy.


Cristian Forte: I normally work with sound, which is why I chose Harald as a partner.


F.N: It is noticeable in the performance, that speech is pushed right to the background. 40 minutes pass by before the first spoken word is heard and not just something which is written on a scrap of paper on the floor. I’m referencing the point where you can hear the original voice of the rubbish collector. Besides this is some writing, letters, which cannot be deciphered easily. Comprehensible speech emerges only relatively late in the continuum of noise. Why this restraint?


Interviewer: Florian Neuner. Translated from German by Thomas Nießer.


As I came into the Lettrétage on Whitsunday, a 3D printer is already working. The sound of the machine is being recorded with a microphone and amplified. It cheeps and hisses like the sound of a command centre in a 1960s spaceship. By the end of the conversation, the product will be finished printing: A yellow something of a few centimeters in height, which at first sight you could take for a futuristic, biomorphic architectural model. At second sight the structure of a concealed X is recognizable.


Florian Neuner: Did you meet each other for the first time here at the Lettrétage speed-dating or did you already know each other?


Tomomi Adachi: Daniel didn’t take part in the speed-dating. We first spoke with each other through Skype. (Editor’s note: Like all foreign artists, Daniel Malpica took part in speed-dating through Skype)


FN: What was the starting point of you working together? What common interests did you discover?


As an answer, Tomomi Adachi puts great big plastic X on the table.


Any questions?

JK —  24. Oktober 2017 — Kommentieren

A report by Sieglinde Geisel on the ninth CON_TEXT event by Érica Zingano, Tatiana Ilichenko, Marion Breton, Barbara Marcel and Tom Nóbrega ‘The hairy goddess’ misstory.’ Translated from German by Hester Underhill.


We take off our shoes because the Lettrétage space has been transformed; the floor has been covered with soft cling film, and in some areas with bubble wrap that crackles under foot, ‘Watch out for the glass’ is written on red tape. On the wall is a dark red bathrobe supspended from a hanging balance, a wreath on a loop ‘In loving memory OIKOS.’

All kinds of things are lying about in the room: an old fashioned TV set with a small propeller ventilator, a red rimmed clock on the wall displaying the wrong time, and on an old speaker I discover a perfume spray, a bottle of ketchup and a bottle of mayonnaise. Art or everyday? In a corner I find a heap of dirty cutlery, along with sponges and washing up liquid and next to it a kind of altar with candles in a shell, flowers and matches. And now real art, or at least not everyday items: diagonally at eye level in a scrolling sprawl of script, of which I can only manage to glean individual phrases. Apocalypse… Big Bang… army of the encrypted angels… hairy goddess… A disco ball rains stars over us, dry ice, faint blue light. We sit on the floor and watch what happens. The evening is named ‘The hairy goddess’ misstory’ a collaborative work by visual artist Tatiana Ilichenko (Russia) and poet and video artist Érica Zingano (Brazil), performed with assistance from Marion Breton (France), Barbara Marcel (Brazil) and Tom Nobrega (Brazil). In transparent white plastic overalls, the performers move through the room, a voice rings out from offstage in an English that isn’t easy to understand. We’re in an elevator the voice tells us, relaxation… sudden muscle contractions… the heart stops… body convulsions… end of an era… Europe is a sinking ship… At one point I pick out the word zombies.

How do you recognise war?

JK —  5. Oktober 2017 — Kommentieren

On the ‘War in the park’ installation, with photos and text by Yevgenia Belorusets and Charlotte Warsen
by Sieglinde Geisel, translated from German by Elizabeth Toole.

This evening we are not just entering a room in the Lettrétage on the Mehringdamm. Instead, we are travelling in just a few minutes a distance of over 1,300 kilometres, from Berlin to Kiev. Poet Charlotte Warsen accompanies us via headset on this mental journey. Her voice picks us up and lets us know that we are travelling. “If you were not here right now, would something more exciting be happening to you somewhere else?” The voice knows that we would rather be out on the street in the evening air and that, considering the chairs piled up in the room, fear having to stand up for the entire evening. The invitation said “8-11pm” and it is only know that I understand that it is not really the duration of the event, but rather a period of time during which we can stay as long as we can manage.

I follow the voice’s instructions. She leads me into the back room and into the park in Kiev, where Ukranian-German artist Yevgenia Belorusets took photographs. The recording from the headset lasts 13:25 minutes. It was up to me how long I lingered in the back room. The photographs hang on two walls opposite each other, on the front wall in between them is a poem, with lines distributed in groups on white paper.

Text, Room, Time

JK —  5. Oktober 2017 — Kommentieren

A personal report on the seventh CON_TEXT event with Rike Scheffler and Jochen Roller
by Florian Neuner, translated from German by Elizabeth Toole

Any one of the masses of visitors packed into the documenta showrooms in Kassel could hardly fail to notice the striking disparity between the kind of reception warranted by the numerous works of art that are kept there and what is actually appreciated. Or rather, they would find themselves in the position, simply for reasons of time, to not be able to do justice to many of the works. Some of the films projected on screens and monitors are hours long. Other artists present visitors with entire archives and extensive documentations, which would require a considerable amount of time to read or even just somewhat adequately take in. Visitors usually burst into the film screening and leave again a few minutes later. The artists and curators either do not seem to mind this kind of reception or else they imagine an ideal recipient, who comes to Kassel with all the time in the world. When contemporary art meets spatial art, frictions often emerge, but sometimes chances for a changed perception also arise. To a certain extent, you could experience the reverse situation to the contemporary art presented in the exhibition rooms recently in the Lettrétage, an easily produced vocal acoustic space. The collaboration of author Rike Scheffler and choreographer Jochen Roller resulted in a new kind of performance. The two were invited to create an installation and completely transformed the Lettrétage, where contemporary art of literature is usually the focus, into an artistic space. The public they encountered there had to adjust at first to the unfamiliar situation of being involved with a multidimensional event, when they were invited in at 8pm.

At first, you might think that it was all about rubbish, like the preceding CON_TEXT event by Cristian Forte und Harald Muenz, the window next to the entrance was taped up with strips of shredded paper after all. Inside, under the window was a crate, also overflowing with strips of paper – not just any old bits of paper but ones clearly printed with text. A picture that might be interpreted as an expression of a rigid reduction and selection process, which may have preceded this installation. Similarly to Forte and Muenz, Roller and Scheffler work with greatly reduced linguistic material. Alongside other small interventions in the room, which are yet to be discussed, a rectangular section, cordoned off by gauze curtains, diagonally opposite the bar was actually the centre of the action. When the public entered the Lettrétage, the first thing they heard was a subtle soundscape of birdcalls. At some point human voices appeared to come from the area behind the curtains. That was the signal for the visitors to enter the sound installation behind the curtain and venture a glimpse into the area covered with foam and with six loud speakers hanging from the ceiling at different heights. On the soft floor, lined with foam, which also invited the visitors to sit or lie down, were sensors in various places marked with a clear invitation to ‘touch me’ It did not take the public long to experiment for themselves or to find out through cautious observation that touching these sensors played sound files. A female and a male voice recited fragments of poetry such as ‘A hungry moon’, ‘Something warm left lying around’, ‘Baden singsong’, ‘Tentatively opening pelvis’, ‘We remember it well’ or ‘How does the sound hit your skin?’

People’s instinct to play was soon awakened and a mesh of many overlapping voices could be heard – a relatively simple experimental setup which lead to complex and surprising situations. When you pressed the buttons several times, you could cut off the voices or interrupt them yourself. After perhaps half an hour, the sound of overlapping text fragments audibly started to dwindle and gaps and pauses emerged. The crowd moved to the bar or out to the yard, but returned perhaps once or twice to continue playing less proactively with the installation in a more intimate setting. Meanwhile, the artists were there in the background, mingling with the public and not revealing themselves. Roller and Scheffer added another layer to their interactive sound installation by placing placards on the floor next to the sensors, which read ’Suillus placidus (edible, very rare)‘, ’Lactarius torminosus (hot, edible after particular preparation) ‘, or ’Tricholoma focale (value unknown)‘. Mushrooms with these names really exist and together with the birdcalls in the background, you could really get the impression of being in the forest searching for the sound of voices. In a small cool box outside the actual sound installation were not only ice cubes but also notes with words like ‘BACK’, ‘MOON’, ‘SCENT’, or ‘SINGSONG’. A curtain also divided the front room from the corridor leading to the back room with toilet doors, with little boards fixed on them. ‘Pendulum suspension’, ‘hang up a nesting box’ alongside illustrations. The second back room was separated off with opaque material and was not used.

Termini technici, as the foundations, were the structural element that connected the installation with these other interventions. The title Rike Scheffler and Jochen Roller chose for their contribution was another such term, ‘memory foam’ is the name of plastics that have a so-called form-memory effect and can ‘recall’ past states after transforming. Had this work been displayed in the context of some art exhibition, the public would surely have got bored with it much quicker, they would not have experimented for so long with sounds and overlays and they would have had a much more limited experience with the sound installation. The clash of time and space art as part of the CON_TEXT series proved to give the audience an opportunity to pay more attention to a spatial installation than would have been possible in a different context.

Trash or Art?

JK —  5. Oktober 2017 — Kommentieren

Impressions by Sieglinde Geisel, translated from German by Thomas Nießer.

Ever since the ingenious story of the cleaning lady there has been a growing awareness of the fine line between trash and art. “Is this art or can I throw it away?” could serve as the guiding principle for the trash-performance by the Argentinian poet Cristian Forte and the German composer Harald Muenz. The production is subtitled “An asemic procedure”. The word “asemic” means the inability to communicate with the help of symbols. So we are warned: We won’t get very far if we try to understand.

What we experience during the next hour goes beyond the language: To ask the symbols for the meaning would be contrary to the intention of the artist. In fact, words are of inferior significance here. What is important can be seen and, more importantly, heard. The words here generally play a supporting role. The high points are to be seen and, more importantly, to be heard. Harald Muenz, sitting mainly at his mixing desk and working fully focussed on his control levers, explores the space between sound and noise. Only gradually do you realise how far he goes with this. The audience is invited to move around the room, whereby initially we stand in the front part – until suddenly something rumbles at the rear. One thinks that there is the action, but when we all rush back not to miss anything, nobody is there, just a canopy with a plastic sheet. Sounds without visual sources are somewhat uncanny and one suddenly becomes aware that the separation of sounds from their source is a fundamental interference with the nature of things. Not only has man subjugated the earth but also its sounds and in passing is this evening a manifestation of that dominion.