prizewinners of the exhibition "IdentitY": RaphaeL BRUNK, Olga Grigorjewa, Paul Schuseil
Updated: Dec 2, 2020
At the exhibition on the theme of "Identity" in the Ignatz Bubis Community Center Frankfurt on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the town twinning between Frankfurt am Main and Tel Aviv, three of the participating artists were awarded prizes: Raphael Brunk (1st Art Prize of the Jewish Community Frankfurt), Olga Grigorjewa (2nd Art Prize of the Jewish Community Frankfurt) and Paul Schuseil (Special Prize of the Board of Directors of the Jewish Community Frankfurt). The prizewinners met the art historian Dr. Ruth Polleit Riechert for a conversation:
Raphael Brunk, a lot has happened since our last interview: It is noticeable that your work has developed from the photographic to the painterly. In your Capture series, the viewer has recognized that it is a photographic work. Now it could also be a painted picture. How did this evolve?
The central theme of my current #Hex series is image creation with the help of photographic consumer image processing algorithms. Starting from low-res digital footage, mainly from popular culture, new, mostly large format works are created in many steps. The approach, the allowing of random compositions in the sense of a cultivated coincidence and digital gestural interventions on my part could definitely suggest a painterly work. But in the end, everything is based on photographic material.
In your early works you took photos within video games and then put them together to form a picture. You took up to 300 single shots for one work. How are your works created technically? And why did you call your new series HEX?
Starting from digital film material in low image quality, mainly from popular culture, new, mostly large-format works are created in many steps. Works from the HEX series are mostly created from a single low-resolution photographic file. From this file the work grows in hundreds of steps to the final work. HEX is a color value. The so-called hexadecimal code is a six-digit combination of letters and numbers and defines one of 16.777.216 possible colors in the RGB color space. I name my works after the average color value of all pixels in the respective image.
The inspiration for your new works comes from very different areas: from soccer, from comic series. Which topics are you particularly interested in?
Mostly the material has an autobiographical reference, but there is no dogmatic restriction in the selection. If I notice that I react in any way to what is depicted, then it enters my archive. From this I draw my source material for the individual works in the creative process.
With your motifs you transform everyday objects or world-famous comic figures - sometimes almost unrecognizable and alienated - into a new image. It is interesting that you also use completely new materials for printing. What properties do they have and why are they particularly good at conveying your artistic message?
Basically, I was looking for an image carrier without any art-historical photographic charge. Aluminium honeycomb composite panels are mainly used in architecture as façade panels for buildings and are freely available on the market. The UV print also results in a rather matt surface that does not require additional protection such as glass or a protective film.
You also work on three-dimensional objects. What can we see next from you?
I work on objects whose spatiality is first created in 3d programs. Excitingly, these are again based on a kind of coincidence, algorithmic processes are used to create the objects, as in the wall works. How and whether these objects are ultimately materialized haptically is still open at the moment.
Thank you Raphael, for your insights.
Olga Grigorjewa, how long and in what form has the topic of "identity" already been occupying you?
I have found that I have been unconsciously dealing with "identity" for quite some time. Again and again, objects from my past or my surroundings appear in my drawings and installations, which seem to me like substitutes for personal periods of time. I have been approaching this topic more consciously for a few years now.
With your work "Auf kleinem Raum zwischen Drinnen und Draußen" you capture a moment of memory. It is also about your personal family history. How did your idea develop?
It was a combination of several things. The first instinct was to work with the balustrade in the foyer of the Ignatz Bubis Community Center, because I found it exciting to make the balcony the focus of an installation, also in terms of content. Then I looked at the architecture of the house in Lwow, where I grew up, using google maps. The stucco work of the house finally brought me on the path of this long relief installation. Because of the similarity of forms, the vases from my grandmother's showcase also play a role. In this way everything came together.
Objects play a special role in your considerations. You use light material (styrofoam) for originally heavy objects (stone); the objects have changed in terms of their materiality. What is your thought here and what do you want to convey with your approach?
First of all, there are very pragmatic reasons for making the work out of lightweight material. Let's not forget: it hangs on a balcony, so it must not weigh tons. On the other hand, I like the idea that the materiality of the objects my work is about changes. They become lighter from a reminding perspective. Isn't that great?
One special moment was certainly the installation of the work on site - on the balustrade in the Ignatz Bubis Community Center. How has your work developed for you and how should it continue to have an effect on site?
I think that since it has been hanging there, the work has gained a greater radiance. It literally floats and shines through the skylight. It adapts perfectly to the room, especially the balcony, and has really become part of the building. Due to the many perspectives one has on the installation when moving around in this large foyer, the work is constantly changing. It is made for this place. It seems as if it has always been there.
Thank you, Olga, for your insights!
Paul Schuseil, for your design, you used the definition of "identity" from the Duden dictionary and applied it to your approach to content. What was your thought process here?
"Identity" is one of those meaningful words that are familiar to me, but which I have never explicitly thought about in all its various facets. So I thought I would start with a definition and then see what intersections there are with my current way of working. The project realized on site is more reduced and thus focuses more on identity than my previous work.
For your works you always used your own body as a model. So far we know of some of your supporting forms, exoskeletons, which stand independently in space like sculptures. How does your design for the Jewish community differ from your previous works?
Up to now, it was often more unnatural poses that stretched or bent the body strongly and provided ironic references with the titles. This time, the room determined the positions and thus became the most important part of the supporting structure. In addition, the sober and everyday is more important than the extravagant staging. The small room appendages are both traces and aids to contemplatively linger and view the architecture and exhibited art and to use the infrastructure such as door handles and handrails.
What experience did you have in realizing the work in the Ignatz Bubis Community Center?
So far I have rarely worked site-specifically. In this project I was able to experience the everyday use of the community center, e.g. which paths and doors are frequently used and I also know the temperature and material properties of the surfaces of the interior. Getting to know the space slowly and intensively by wandering around, observing, lingering and touching it was something new and inspiring for me.
Will the topic "identity" continue to be part of your work?
I think artistic work and the topic "identity" are generally connected. As long as I continue to work with body imprints and supports, it will also resonate more strongly as an aspect of the work.
Thank you, Paul, for your answers!