Blickwinkel – by Sophia Vecchini

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Publ. 01.14.2021

Blickwinkel – by Sophia Vecchini
Turning homeless people into artists / let homeless people become artists

Sophia Vecchini is currently in her final semester of her media management studies. In her last semester she has to develop and realize a project on her own. The idea of her project to turn homeless people into artists* resulted in a course during her studies and her social vein. “I was in a volunteer course a few semesters ago. It was about creative campaigns, theoretically. The professor introduced us to one of the Bahnhofsmission am Zoo,” says Sophia. Here she received a lot of input. ” During this course we were allowed to think up creative campaigns for the Bahnhofsmission. My group and I had a very creative focus, a lot was about different art forms,” she continues.

That is when she had the idea to look for people who come to the Bahnhofsmission am Zoo as people who are homeless and let them become artists*. They should create art, taking photos from their point of view and everyday life. Photographs that will be presented at an exhibition afterwards. Now the time has finally come: the planning phase has already begun and the idea is being realized. In the first quarter of 2021, the exhibition is supposed to open in the homeless center of the Bahnhofsmission am Zoo. The exhibition is also intended to become a place of meetings and interaction. A place where worlds collide that are usually ignored by the broad mass of society. It is about the artists* showing themselves and being seen as well.

Every person is worth the same, every person deserves to be treated equally. Sophia takes the first step and invites you to join her creative process. In the following interview, she tells us how far she has progressed with planning so far and what difficulties, but also opportunities, have opened up for her.

How did you get the idea?

I am in the last semester of my media management studies. During this last semester we have to develop and realize a project independently. And fortunately, we have a lot of freedom there. I was in a volunteer course a few semesters ago. It was about creative campaigns and the professor connected us with one from the Bahnhofsmission am Zoo. He gave us input. We were allowed to come up with a creative campaign for the Bahnhofsmission during the course. That was when I got the idea to find people who would come to the Bahnhofsmission am Zoo as homeless people. Let them become artists themselves, so that they have the opportunity to show what they can do and be seen. That was catchy. I have a social vein and have worked a lot with children, but not so much in the area of poverty or homelessness. But once you’ve tasted a little bit of, I’d say, blood, and got into more social areas, then you have a drive like that. I did a voluntary social year in a crisis center. There you see an unbelievable amount and an unbelievable amount of formative things, also the view of our society and the problems are changing. It broadens your view of the world in which we are living. I grew up in Zehlendorf, I also went to school there. Somehow, the biggest dramas were that you could not afford the Longchamp bag. Sure, these are clichés, but some clichés are based on truths. And then you were dealing with sheltered people. To have such a contrasting program and to see that it is not always like that has influenced me and I have noticed that in such projects. When it came to developing creative campaigns… I often have a different view on it, because for me the human being and his story is more important than how successful we are now on Instagram. Which is of course not always optimal. But of course, it changes something.

Have homeless people been included in these creative campaigns, and have the campaigns been implemented?

Unfortunately, the campaigns were not implemented, it was more of a theoretical part. So it was more about the concept and the thought processes behind it. We were able to think about how much we really wanted to involve these people and how many and in what way, because there are still many points of contact. So as I just said, with people who live in a sheltered household. Not everyone in the course was so enthusiastic about the idea of sitting in a room with five homeless people.

If you want to work with a homeless person for your project, isn’t it possible that there is a lot of distrust? I imagine it’s difficult to convince people who are homeless for a project just like this.

I have to say that I have asked myself the same question. That is why I was quite fast at the point where I said: OK, I would like to work with the social workers there on site. With the individual case helpers on site, because they know their people and they know who might be interested. But I have to say that I spent a day as an assistant in the Bahnhofsmission am Zoo and you get a feeling for the ambience. For the tone that prevails there. And I went there once for an appointment, for example, I had an appointment with one of the social workers there and at the moment it’s very confusing where the entrance is. There was a group of men who said: what are you looking for? Do you need help? There was actually not much fear of contact from the other side. That’s why I’m relatively optimistic. I also went for a walk with a homeless man who helped me a bit and gave me some advice. The social worker there, with whom I am in contact, she told me very clearly whom I can already contact. Because it is a kind of network. You usually have a relatively regular clientele. Most of them are coming back again and again. That means that internal hierarchies are formed there and that means there are certain people who have more to say than others. From the outside, you don’t have a clue. But if you also have insiders and you get to know the people a little bit, get in touch with the right people, then you get such insights. I went for a walk with someone like that and he told me what could go well…, what could not go that well…, about what I have to pay attention to etc. I had the feeling that there is a lot more confidence in me than I would have thought.

How far have you progressed with the project, what is the current status?

There have been quite a few changes because of Corona. Corona makes everything more difficult. That means it was very, very difficult to find financing. But actually I am at the point where I have found someone who wants to finance the project – thanks to Freiberger & Collegen. Now I can buy the cameras I need for my project. I have to do everything relatively quickly with the clientele that I have to deal with. So from the moment I give the cameras to the 15 homeless people, so to speak, to the finished picture hanging on the wall. It can’ t take half a year. It must be a period of not more than two or three months. Three would almost be too much. Just to keep the 15 people in line. I have to prevent that it is simply lost in the life that the people lead. And the exhibition is only in March, because actually at this time, when winter comes, they have other problems. So they are really more concerned with getting through the winter and still being there next year. Beyond that I try to find further media partners. This is the phase I am in right now. So much planning – it’s just not the fun part yet.

How long do the people without shelter have the camera? In what period of time are you allowed to capture their view on things?

The plan is not really to say: Okay, it’s just one day. I just don’t want to make the time frame so tight, because I also really want to make them artists. I want to give them a chance, and creative freedom. If they can’t find inspiration in one place, they should be able to go to another. Just take their time for it.

How should the exhibition proceed?

I would like to address many different people, but the 15 artists will also be present at the opening. I think the exciting thing about the idea is that you can easily cover several things with it. Of course, it is exciting to participate in such a project and there are people who would simply do it voluntarily. But for many of them, there would be a little bit of a loan missing. That means you usually have to give them a financial incentive as well. In most projects they say that they will get vouchers from a supermarket. Because at least they can’t buy drugs with them. I personally prefer to give them self-responsibility. Of course I don’t want to support that, but I will say it in this way: a normal photographer could buy drugs as well, because he/she is free to decide how to spend the earned money. What matters here is really to treat them like artists. I don’t want to write on the picture or advertising for social reasons: We turn homeless people into artists. I want them to feel that way, too. I want them to feel valued. And another thing that I think is exciting is that when they are at this exhibition and they stand next to their pictures and say: Hey, do you want to buy my photograph? The plan is to let them decide the price for themselves first. Just to see how they rate themselves and what interested people would be willing to pay. Then automatically this confrontation between potential buyers and the people that this whole project is actually about happens. And I would like to see it happen in the center at the zoo. That’s exactly the meeting place to create a situation of talks and encounters.

You say that you would like to give the homeless people just that kind of courage. But I can imagine that you also have to give courage to the other side. So that they say: Okay, I’m going to face this now and I’m just going to get out of my bubble and take a look at it now. Maybe they are also afraid of it, because they don’t know how to act; how to interact with each other? Do you have something planned there, too?

These are good points. The Bahnhofsmission am Zoo is quite well hidden. That means it’s not super central in itself and it doesn’t happen very often that someone just happens to walk by by chance. That means you really have to advertise it more. Theoretically, the center is built in such a way that you have different rooms and can use them for different purposes. Universities or school classes can go there and ask questions. But there are also consultations for homeless people. My hope is that when you arrive there during regular activities, you will also experience life there. At the opening itself, it would be nice if the social workers were also present, because then the reports will be from different perspectives and you can interact with different people. In this way the possible “fear” on both sides is maybe reduced.

The interview was conducted by Carsten Jan Weichelt.

me.magritte – by Stefanie Rübensaal

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Publ. 04.5.2020

Viva la Internet! Better said: Luckily there is Instagram. Corona makes it impossible for me to visit galleries at the moment. Thank God that Instagram is also a good platform for this because I’m looking there for artworks and video installations which I would like to share with you.

Today I present you: me.magritte – a video installation by Stefanie Rübensaal. Have a look at the video installation first and let it have an effect on you.

It is important for Stefanie Rübensaal to produce the idea for her video installation from out of the flow. ” Here it went very quickly from designing the graphic mask to photographing and installing the figure,” she writes to me. She spent a day by the sea to record the video and in the end “the work is a digital collage of all the elements,” she continues.

For me personally, the video work has something calming about it, but at the same time, it encourages me to think and reflect. There is something mysterious in it. Being at the sea and looking out to the open sea makes me melancholic sometimes. How do you feel about it?

Stefanie came up with the idea through “inner chaotic states” – in times of Corona a state that many people are experiencing. ” Standing still, emptiness, upheaval, change, transformation. Where are we going? A moment of stop and questioning”, she explains, “To see the sea, but not to be at the sea. To walk along the sea in your mind and at the same time holding on to the protection of the umbrella.” Also in the interpretation of dreams, the umbrella stands for protection and safety. A state of mind that many currently hope for.

Stefanie Rübensaal has a mixed relationship with video art: “On the one hand, I think a video is a cold working medium and product […]. On the other hand, videos (video collages) can be used to expand existing images and add an additional level of meaning to them. When this happens, I really enjoy the medium […]”, says Stefanie.

So if anyone would have liked to go to the seaside over Easter, this is a good alternative to explore the sea near to Rostock even when we are not allowed to travel actually.

Homepage Stefanie Rübensaal

Mia Hochrein – Fremde 1 & Fremde 2

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Publ. 03.10.2020

The artist Mia Hochrein works with many different tools for her art. She decides in the creation process which creative tools she uses for her work. As a result, she creates photographs and also installations or performances.

When I stood in front of these two photographs, it was instantly clear to me that I would write about them. Why? Well, let’s start:

Mia HochreinWhat do I see immediately? Two people wearing different textiles and always several of them. The textiles look like old towels, shirts, tablecloths or window curtains. In both pictures, the faces are covered. In my opinion, this gives the photographs anonymity and something mysterious.

Gender is also not directly interpretable. Is it the artist herself, or is it a woman and a man? The hands in the right picture seem a little more masculine, but the feet in the left picture seem more feminine. Perhaps this is too much stereotypical thinking. In the left photograph, the toes also point towards the wall. The rest of the body, however, appears as if the person is looking at me with his or her face. I start thinking and I have to find out what these photographs represent.

Mia HochreinI take a look at the titles of the photographs. They are called “Strangers 1” and “Strangers 2”. The exhibition has the title “transformer” and the gallery manager Eva Hübner tells me that the textiles are garments. Clothes that were once worn by the artist’s mother and grandmother. Several generations are thus connected, quite inconspicuously. Thus the photos express the following for me: Even if some of them are no longer with us, we still carry them with us throughout our lives.  They are a part of us.

Because of the anonymity, I can identify myself more easily with the basic idea. Do you?

The exhibition is on until 23 of march at Inselgalerie Berlin. Have a look!

Marie Kirchner – When Objects Speak Back 1-3

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Publ. 03.4.2020

I’m in the house Schwarzenberg visiting the Neurotitan Gallery. First of all, I walk through the first large room to get into another, a little smaller one. In front of me, there are three overhead projectors. On top of them, white objects that at this point I can’t quite make out yet. I walk closer to the installation. Many small pieces of paper are spread on the floor. I stand directly in front of them and realize that different sentences are written on them. Questions, answers, quotations – it reminds me of a dialogue.

I don’t understand the installation yet, but I think it is exciting and I would like to learn more about it. At one of the overhead projectors, I can see a big elephant tusk.  Not real, of course, just fake. So, what is this installation about?

The artist, Marie Kirchner, is working with colonial objects and with all the questions they raise. Why were they kept in families, and not in museums, for hundreds of years, many generations, and two world wars? The object performance was created in the context of her research on colonial heirlooms.

In the performance, the objects are also meant to become actors, a game with perspectives takes place: am I looking at the objects?  Are the objects looking at me?  Since overhead projectors were used in the Neurotitan Gallery for the first time (normally the objects were always at the eye level of the viewer), I have the feeling of “looking down from above” – which makes me feel more superior.

In this gallery, Marie Kirchner focuses on the object in light and the shadows it creates.  This light/shadow play triggers me. There is something threatening and at the same time mysterious about it, and I ask myself, what the elephant tusk must have seen or experienced? If he were able, he could tell me perhaps so many things. Here it happens: the feeling of superiority disappears and the object becomes an actor. A dialogue takes place in my head. I have to smile a little when I think about it because I imagine myself talking to an elephant tusk. A little fun is necessary.

Now that I know the whole background of this installation, the meaning of the objects and how they treated me in the way of thinking and seeing,  I like this installation really much. Unfortunately, there was no piece of paper in the gallery itself through which one could have learned more.

Marie Kirchner was born in 1980 and grew up in Hamburg. She studied fine arts and has her studio on the RAW GELÄNDE in Berlin. She belongs to the “Freie AusstellungsKollektiv FAK Berlin”.  Come and have a  look at it.

 

Hi, I’m Carsten!

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Publ. 02.13.2020

It’s not just a new year, here is also a new person writing for you. Who am I? I’m Carsten.
I’m studying creative writing in Berlin. Since I can think, I have been interested in different forms of art. At the age of five, I started acting, making music and singing. Before I moved to Berlin in 2018, I had trained to be an actor in Cologne for two years. Besides creative studies, I also tried out other courses of study such as business administration, media management, art and political science. But my creative streak won. Luckily.

For me, life is art with many different stories. So, art is life for me, too; and every person in this big city has their own story and individual life. Art has this as well: individualism. Art can be created or presented in so many ways, maybe even in ways, we don’t know yet. However, if I don’t like it sometimes, I’m still totally fine with it because it’s just my personal opinion and art doesn’t have to affect or impress everyone in the same way.

But what is it that fascinates me so much about all these art forms? I am interested in old but also modern art. Thanks to new technology and a lot of creative people, so many things are possible today and the process is still going on. You never know what will come next. I find that incredibly exciting and interesting. I would like to tell you the stories that move me and catch my eye and which I think are important to be told. Not only does Art embody fantasy but also society and social problems. It can be inspiring, political, arousing and enlightening.

Art offers space for discussion – today this is more important than ever. Why is that? In my opinion, fewer and fewer different opinions are accepted; instead, black and white attitudes towards things increase. Society is splitting up. Maybe art, in whichever form, can help here and remind us of talking and listening to each other.

But it’s not just art people want to get to know and see in this time – they are willing to listen to and read interesting and good stories, too. Here I am: I will find both for you.

Let’s start with art!