When you look around the streets of Berlin, on the tables of people’s homes, on Instagram, we are invaded by blossoms and flowers these days. The glorious beauty of Spring I like to call it. But the warm season is not the only one giving us the bright colors of nature; London-based artist Rebecca Louise Law had her Berlin debut in the past week with her stunning sculptural work. But her material is neither paint nor paper – she uses flowers. Lot’s of them actually. For the Bikini Berlin she created a huge site-specific installation that has the visitors of the concept shopping mall marvel at the beauty of nature. Hung from the ceiling, thousands of flowers form a mesmerizing sky of blossoms that are as enchanting as the Spring itself. We spoke with Rebecca about her new work and her relationship to Berlin. Read our interview and see more photos of the installation at Bikini Berlin after the jump.
IHB: You brand new flower installation at Bikini Berlin is your Berlin debut as an artist. Did you have experience with the city before that or is this your first encounter? What was your first impression?
RLL: I came to Berlin in about 2003 with my art school and my first impression was amazing! I thought i could live here forever. I just loved the art scene and pop-up art places. The fact that you could just use an abandoned building as a gathering space opened up what a gallery is to me. The fact that you didn’t have to have a gallery and you didn’t have to be old school. So my first impression of Berlin was that you could do art anywhere and you didn’t have to be told how to be an artist. So the freedom here was inspiring. It opened up my eyes to have my own gallery, which I do in London now.
Both Bikini Berlin and its location inside of Berlin’s City West are loaded with history. Was Berlin in any way an influence or inspiration for this particular installation?
I think I was just asked to do this installation for Bikini Berlin separately to thinking about what Berlin is as a place. When I came to visit the building I was told about the history and it did make it much more inspirational. But I felt like my work anyway naturally could sit within its walls, and the space with its post-war architecture and harsher lines really complimented my work. And I felt like bringing nature into it was beneficial for all of us.
Tell us a little bit more about the concept of this installation and the process of creating it.
The concept was mainly about the celebration of Spring and the Bikini Berlin team really loved the idea of creating an installation when we’ve all been in the midst of winter. For me it was an incredible installation in terms of generosity. Tollwasblumenmachen.de sponsored the flowers and 30,000 flowers were donated, which all symbolize the cultivation of flowers in Germany today, so every flower was chosen by the sponsor as a representation of flowers within 2016.
How long will the flowers “survive” through the exhibition?
The flowers will be preserved now – the technical use is air-drying on copper – the copper is intertwined into each flower. All of the flowers will survive. When the installation comes down, they will be packaged and stored to then create long-term sculptures with the copper and flowers entwined.
Bikini Berlin has a very unique concept which makes it in a way the complete opposite of a traditional mall. It’s still a place of commerce, but the creativity and diversity of Berlin’s design scene is clearly in the foreground here. Does your installation reflect this in any way? Do you share this sentiment?
I think creativity before commerce is an incredibly powerful way to have a concept shopping mall, and you can see it when you see all of the stores here. They’re inspiring. It does it like you’re walking into art galleries rather than shops. My work is always about longevity and seeing something which can be temporary and decorative as a long-term art piece. So I think in a way the pioneering and the temporary nature of pop-up and creativity in this space marries well with my work.
In all of the other cities you have made installations so far, what was the most spectacular place?
I think in the heart of Times Square in New York is the most contrasting space for my work. So bringing nature into the metropolis – into the most hectic digital space and concrete space – was probably the most spectacular, only in its contrast.
Berlin has an array of unusual spaces for art, including a former bunker, a container construction, a former socialist broadcasting center, an abandoned cold war spy station, and old mental asylum, a baroque castle… Which kind of place do you think would be interesting for you to make an installation in here?
I think the more contrasting, the better. My work compliments really industrial, hard spaces. It often softens them and brings in light. So really, the more harsh and harrowing and industrial the space, the better.
In your time in Berlin now, what is the most memorable experience here that you will take home with you?
I think the people are just so amazing and pioneering. Everyone’s really embraced my work and can understand how I use flowers as an art material. It’s been very hard to translate this over the years. I’ve spent probably 13 years of my life trying to explain to people how I use flowers as my paint. Here it’s been so embracing and I’ve really appreciated how easily the Berliners open up their minds to new thoughts and change.
Thank your for the interview and for giving us this amazing installation here in Berlin.
Rebecca Louise Law
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The stunning flower installation by Rebecca Louise Law is open for free to the public and can be viewed in the ground floor of Bikini Berlin Concept Shopping Mall (Budapester Str. 38-50) until May 1, 2016.
Thanks for the support by Bikini Berlin