Berlin Art: An Interview with Pola Sieverding

Some might call her art grotesque, others will call it majestic. In any case the artworks of the Berlin-based artist Pola Sieverding is one of a kind. Reflecting multiple aspects of masculinity her videos and photographs called our attention and made us curious for more. Therefore we connected with her to learn more about her vision and her artistic approach. Read the full interview and enjoy her sexual and sometimes revolting artwork.

Hello Pola Sieverding  thank your for your time. You describe yourself as a lens-based media artist. What does that mean and how does that differentiate from classic video and photo art?

There is no difference. Lens-based media is a general description for all techniques involving photographic lenses.

In your work, you portray either humans or architecture. How do cities play a role in your work?

My work would be unthinkable without the city as the center stage. I am interested in urbanity as both a reality, and a place of longing, as well as a venue for desire, conflicts and social construction.

What do you like about Berlin and what inspires you to live and work here?

I was pretty sure that if I would stay in Germany, Berlin would be the only option. Here, the dynamics always switch; in the morning, I can go to the Gemäldegalerie, in the evening to wrestling matches and at night I can work. The city rotates, but I don’t lose track of it when I take time off. Generally, I love to leave Berlin behind for a while and then come back.

Is there any special place for you in Berlin? And why?

There is one spot on Leipziger Strasse when you drive from Alexanderplatz to Potsdamer Platz where you have the feeling of being in a big city for a short moment, where you get a glimpse of the Metropolis. When you arrive at Potsdamer Platz, the dream is over though… And I love the Berlin Cinemas, Kino International for its generosity, Kino Arsenal for its programs and Delphi for its elegance.

In your video work, male stereotypes play a significant role. What fascinates you about men?

I am not interested in a specific masculinity, because this perspective would need a clear gender identity. This is not supported by biology or by social-cultural or political aspects and it’s also not productive. The protagonists of my work are fascinating through their multitude and their controversy that generates its significance in regard to aesthetics. This is also the cutting point to my architectural work—the city as a stage of controversy, where diverse aesthetics and functions are performed next to each other and create the collage-like framework of the social fabric.

Are you working on any project or collaboration recently that is particularly interesting?

I just made a very nice collaboration with the fashion brand Schiesser. Next to new works that are shown, I presented a 10-inch vinyl record that I produced with my brother, Orson Sieverding. Orson had done music for several videos of mine—to have one of the soundtracks on a record now, is awesome.

How did you start to work with Schiesser? How would you define the relationship between fashion and art?

Last year, I worked with Schiesser to redesign their classic tank top. After that, we came up with the idea to develop a concept for their new store of the Revival collection of Schiesser. We developed a setting were Art and Fashion could meet one another directly.

The general idea of my work always has to do with body images and their fragility, and that definitely includes how clothing defines our belonging to social groups that signal desires and political points of view.

I was interested in the tank top as a fetish, as a transmitter of different images of masculinity, whether as a ” Wifebeater ” with Marlon Brando in “A Streetcar Named Desire “, or its associations with the street in Hip Hop or its stylization among homosexual women and men – it always involves a strong physical reference. That interests me and I have reflected upon this in different ways, both in the film as well as in the photographs, which can be seen in the store. The associations awakened by garments trigger diverse, and at times, contradictory stories that depend to a certain extend on your own relationship to this very physical garment.

What can we expect from you in the future?

Right now I am working on a series of photographs I shot here in Berlin during wrestling matches. What I like about wrestling is the physically expressed theatricality—the body caught in the dramatic pose: In the grand gestures, the masquerade and the precise staging I see a potential drag show that reveals a complex and diverse picture of cultural image production.

Are you opening any exhibitions soon here in Berlin?

On January 23 I have an opening at the Anna Jill Lüpertz Gallery. I will be showing my pictures there from the wrestling matches. And at the end of February, I have an opening at the Neue Berliner Kunstverein where I am part of the Britta Schmitz-curated Senatsstipendiatenausstellung.

Thank you for your time!

To see Pola Sieverding’s collaboration with Schiesser you can check out the Schiesser Revival Store that she designed inside the Mall of Berlin at Leipziger Platz. There you can discover the Schiesser Revival collection and buy the tank top designed by Pola Sieverding, which is part of the special collection “Artists for Revival”.Ten internationally known artists, including Marc Brandenburg and Monica Bonvincini to name a few of the most famous, redesigned the legendary Doppelripp shirt for this collection.

Learn more about Pola Sieverding on

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