Berlin from an Artist’s Perspective: an Interview with Felix Kiessling

by Carla Ingrasciotta
September 11, 2017
Carla Ingrasciotta
Kiessling Felix

On the occasion of the sixth edition of the Berlin Art Week and the first edition of art berlin, we interviewed Berlin-based artist Felix Kiessling to share with us his perspective on the Berlin art scene.
Greatly involved in the art week, Felix is having a solo show at alexander levy and a participation into the Festival of Future Nows.

Born in 1980 in Hamburg, Felix currently lives and works in Berlin, Germany. Since October 2008 Kiessling has been a student at the Universität der Künste Berlin (UDK) and has been a participant in Olafur Eliasson’s Institut für Raumexperimente since 2009.

Carla Ingrasciotta: Let’s start with your exhibition at alexander levy “Neuordnung II”. The project takes us back to 2010, when you first presented Neuordnung at LEVY Berlin. This work fights the notion of space and distance, as you aim to create a global sense of unity out of the geographical borders that physically and politically divide us. Could you tell us more about your installation and the pieces we will see on display? Where did you get your inspiration from?

Felix Kiessling: One piece will deal with the firmament on the other side. One will be a tangent of 18 km (11,2 miles) length, reaching/ending right in the gallery, through which I want to prove that we can actually build huge tangents (which itself is not so easy, regarding the fact that even the laser light follows gravitation and bends at a distance). In a third piece, Erddurchstechung, I pierce planet Earth with a huge aluminium pole, inserted in northern New Zealand, poking out directly opposite in the Parque Nacional de Cabañeros in Spain. My biggest inspiration always has been a huge imbalance, a form of swindle, I every now and then experience since I was born. It´s a feeling of standing on a planetary sphere without scale and direction and being surrounded by infinite, shape and meaningless space. It´s a great feeling.

Could you tell us something about your journey to New Zealand? How was your typical day there?

F.K.: One could argue traveling that distance, not combining it with a longer stay is complete arrogance. In this case the pace/the acceleration, the manner in which I visit both places, most distant to each other, as simultaneous as possible, is integral part, is the essence of the project’s concept. I took off from Berlin Tegel, went via London, Hong Kong, to arrive in Auckland after a 35-hours flight, only to drive by car for another 7 hours into the Rangipo desert of Tongariro National Park to install the aluminium pole, document it and go straight back onto my journey home! By the time I had arrived in Auckland I already was completely delirious and had given up the concept of space and time. I had left ANY time zone or biological rhythm, didn’t feel what, where, when and who I am. As I see it – a truthful connection to this planet in a physical sense. A feeling of scalelessness.

C.I.: During the Berlin Art Week you are also having a group show at Hamburger Bahnhof within the Festival of Future Nows. Which are the works you are presenting on this occasion?

F.K.:I’m going to create another tangent, this time roughly 7 km (4,3 miles) in length: A construction of which the visible part on display, is the only section of a much bigger invisible structure. Some sort of supersymmetry questioning what is doable and what is not by challenging earthly rules and elementary forces, such as one of our biggest: gravitation. Also, Endpunkt Europa will be shown in full length: A short experimental film documenting my journey to the outermost points of Europe (Cape Nordkyn in Norway and Tarifa in Spain) and shortening the land by 40 cm on each side. While the journey to the North proved challenging due to the cold, untrodden lands and white nothingness, the journey to the South revealed obstacles of bureaucratic nature. Islas de las Palomas, Tarifa’s most southern peninsula, appears as a dystopian amalgam of off-season surf tourism, ancient history of fortresses and a high-tech frontier for the current migrant crisis.

C.I.: Your art and practice focus on the investigations of the space, its scale and the perception humans have of it. How is this translated in your artworks? Could you tell us more about your process of creation?

I’m like a 5-year old. I know it´s not big news, however, I’m still extremely fascinated by the fact, planet Earth is a sphere and there is actually somebody standing up side down on the other side! I simply experiment with these things I cannot fully grasp. A childish-like physical naive investigation into these matters, the testing of what’s doable and what’s not is centre of my interest. It helps to make physical sense of it. And perhaps, in the best outcome, my experiments invite you to co-experience these phenomena. Perhaps, if we all look more naively at space, detached from any symbolic, political or economic meaning, we could build be a better sphere to live on.

C.I.: In 2009 you founded a collective with other Berlin-based artists (Andreas Greiner, Julian Charrière, Markus Hoffmann). Are you still working with them?

F.K.: Yes, Das Numen constantly works on projects. Currently we’re in process of developing a show with the MeetFactory in Prague and a ‘Kunst am Bau’ project for a science centre in Heilbronn. The collective’s work has become completely self-dynamical and will, besides following our individual works, always continue.

C.I.: Any upcoming projects we could look forward to seeing?

With an old friend of mine, artist curator Lukas Töpfer, whom I really respect for taking risks and showing those artist of us who strongly believe in reduction, I will have a show at Aanant & Zoo in Berlin. Hopefully, I will drill a very deep hole towards the centre of the world in Silkeborg, Denmark end of September (a new artist residency by Thomas O’Grady) and I will drop a 28 tons meteorite from the sky in Regensburg end of the year, if it all works out.

C.I.: As many artists you live and work in Berlin. What is your relationship with the city? Does the city itself inspire your work?

F.K.: Berlin has been incredible helpful to build an existence, construct a network of inspiration, have space to work and the physical capacity to put things into reality, as well as offering space to mentally develop all these mad things. It’s also a very functional platform and speaking tube to expose and share ideas and concepts.

C.I.: Could you tell us five places in Berlin you would suggest to someone who loves art? Would you recommend something not to be missed during the Berlin Art Week?

It’s the beginning of a new season, I’m sure there will be plenty of good works on show everywhere. I suggest you visit Michael Müller’s part of Lukas Töpfer’s exhibition cycle Höchste Armut at Aanant & Zoo, Willem de Rooij at KW, Harun Farocki in Neuer Berliner Kunstverein, Gordon Matta-Clark at Thomas Schulte and of course Festival of Future Nows at Hamburger Bahnhof is going to be a 4 day long battlefield of performances, interventions, temporary sculptures and screenings. In the evening check for Flipping the coins at Berghain Kantine, to name only a few.

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