photos: Aja Jacques.
While the pandemic and the lockdown have been pretty devastating for artists and creative professionals economically, they certainly have not been lacking in being an inspiration. In the last weeks, we received quite wonderful submissions from photographers and artists all dealing with the different aspects of the pandemic and how they influence our life, among them the Stay At Home series, the corona comics, and a curious techno song. The latest project we want to introduce you to today is dealing specifically with one of the measures to contain the spread of the virus: social distancing.
Aja Jacques is one of the artists from our Uncensored Berlin exhibition that we hosted back in 2018 and that dealt with censorship of artists through social media platforms. Aja was not only one of our muses acting as a model for several of our photographers, but she also exhibited her own photos. Her new project “At A Distance” is a series of analog nude self-portraits she took with several fellow Berliners in prominent public places – at a safe distance of two meters. We talked with her about the series and about how the quarantine has been for her so far.
photos: Lilika Strezoska.
History has proven to us time and time again that necessity truly is the mother of invention. In 2020 this saying strikes again, as these spectacularly unusual times have driven people to find solutions for the limitations that the wake of the pandemic has brought upon our daily lives. As the routines of our private and work life have been rethought, we want to shed light on ways especially creative people have found, to still exercise their craft. The no contact rule has sparked ideas, that allow our creative Berliners to pursue their passions even in times of crisis.
One fantastic example is Lilika Strezoska. The talented photographer has moved to Berlin one and a half years ago to study Communication Design at the University of Applied Sciences – way before the pandemic changed our lives. Given that we are all to stay home and facetime, rather than meet in person, she came up with a simple solution to still take pictures of what she loves most in photography: people.
photo: SCANROULETTE @herpeslabial_
The lockdown has really put a damper on the sexual expression of Berliners in a major way. Unless you are lucky to live with your partner or with a flatmate with benefits your sex life most likely had to take a back seat in the last weeks. No Tinder or Grindr dates, no hooking up in bars, no kinky adventures in Berlin’s nightclubs. You really have to get creative to get your sexual kicks these days.
Our friends from Pornceptual were struck really badly by the pandemic. Their parties are on hold until further notice, and the WHOLE festival which they co-organize has been canceled for this year. But like many creative people in the city the quarantine has also created new ideas and opportunities for them to make the best of the situation. One of those ideas that recently saw the light of day is their new platform Isolation Porn which is an extension to their Pornceptual blog dedicated to artworks and creations that have been produced in response to the lockdown.
photo: Nika Kramer.
Last Autumn, the incredible Urban Nation museum for contemporary urban and street art has given us one of the most memorable exhibitions with their own Biennale. Using the empty space underneath the subway train viaduct right in front of their main building they installed a walk-through immersive installation featuring countless urban artists from around the world. The main museum building was a sight not to be missed as well, as huge tentacles were sticking out of the windows as if the museum had been invaded by a giant octopus.
It’s incredibly sad what is currently taking over the building: nothing. Because of the pandemic, it had to close much like any other big gallery, museum and cultural space until an unknown point in the future. The current exhibition is excellent and features works from iconic artists such as D*FACE, Nychos, Martin Whatson, Shepard Fairey, Swoon, Vhils, and THE LONDON POLICE. If you haven’t seen it yet, now there is a new way to experience the museum. Following the lead of several other art spaces, Urban Nation has now released a virtual tour, and it’s actually a guided one with hosted by art dealer Markus Georg.
We’ve already showcased some of Guen Douglas’s tattoo designs in a blog post last year. But recently, this prolific Berlin-based artist has gone public with another form of creative expression: an Instagram account filled with unique comics. Guen Douglas told us more about her affinity for Gary Larson, the intersections of tattoo and comic designs, and what it feels like to make art in times of a global pandemic.
The Instagram account tolarsonwithlove doesn’t have many entries yet, but each of them presents an extremely imaginative take on a particular aspect of reality. Whether it’s a blissful illustration of an intimate self-care moment, or a visual satire referencing present crisis, the comics by Guen Douglas grab one’s attention with their narrative and, not unlike her tattoo designs, invite one to admire the details.
Visual arts have lived through quite the revolution since the digital age. The possibilities to bend images to your will by changing a few numbers in a computer are practically infinite. Today, we don’t even have to use a computer anymore, as we can create stunning artworks with the help of apps on our phones.
One of the most curious developments of digital art, though, comes from artificial intelligence. Artworks done by AIs have been around for some years but really started to become a thing back in 2018 when auction house Christie’s in New York sold a piece for almost half a million by an AI called “Obvious” that was programmed by a collective from Paris. It’s an exciting concept, trusting programs and algorithms to create something that we humans can emotionally connect to.
photos: Red Rubber Road.
One of our Uncensored Berlin artist duos has come out with a photo series that could not be more fitting for our current situation. It was actually done years before the pandemic and is part of the ongoing project Red Rubber Road by photographers AnaHell and Nathalie Dreier.
Back in 2018 Ana suffered from a serious illness and was kept in quarantine in the infectious disease isolation ward at the military hospital in Berlin for several weeks. Visitors had to wear protective gear which created quite the nightmarish atmosphere. This also inspired the idea to continue their Red Rubber Road series right there in the isolation ward on one of Nathalie’s visits. The staged self-portraits have a quite playful and humorous vibe which helped them to lighten up the oppressive mood.
The artists decided to release the series in light of the current situation to show the optimism that creativity can provide during moments of disease and isolation.
Jorinde Voigt, KÖNIG GALERIE, photo: Roman März
Because of the general lockdown caused by the coronavirus, the entire world has recently become increasingly dependent on the wonders of the Internet. But even Netflix can get boring after some time. Luckily, many Berlin artists and institutions make their collections and performances available online – so you can finally go to that museum or gallery you’ve always been intrigued by but never visited!
In the last couple of days, things have been moving really fast. Every day the situation concerning the virus outbreak seems to get more serious. But the more time we spend at home in self-quarantine, the more time we have to think about the repercussions, not only on our social life but also the economic effects this new situation might have on some parts of our society.
As we already pointed out in an earlier piece, especially those independent freelancers, artists, and small businesses are already affected by most jobs getting canceled right now. But now that most places for social gatherings including clubs, bars, event locations, theaters, concert halls, and galleries all have been closed for the unforeseeable future, their existence beyond the pandemic is in jeopardy. It might sound extreme, but these kinds of businesses can’t compensate month-long shut-downs, as their expenses like rent, wages, taxes, fees, etc. will continue to come in without them being able to generate any kind of profits. This means insolvencies, bankruptcies, loss of jobs, permanent closures. And when we all come out of this in a few weeks or months the places we used to go to and love might not be there anymore to reopen. This is not an exaggeration or overdramatization. It’s the brutal truth.
If you’re into electronic and contemporary underground culture music, you don’t want to miss out on this 10-day marathon of cultural and countercultural input, paired with discourse, club culture, and art. Get an update on the state of the art in underground music culture(s) and check out CTM, short for Club Transmediale. In this year’s installment, you’ll find performances by electronic music veterans such as Robert Henke next to underground gems like Sherelle. The festival always highly emphasizes diversity, making sure to arrange a booking that ticks all the boxes when it comes to political wokeness. Check out their artist list and you’ll see how to integrate different identities, backgrounds, and experiences.