A change of studio has catapulted me into another world. My old studio life in Hamburg had the advantages of a gentrified district, my new studio is in the City Nord with concrete and empty shops. The break motivated me to make a video collage, because at second glance City Nord turned out to be a place for creative people. With Le Corbusier, it was supposed to be an “office city in the green” and offer a “New Way of Working”. The goal collapsed in the 1990s. Afterwards, studios and clubs called “Ebene+14” sprang up in the now empty spaces. Thanks to good rents, an agile art oasis developed. But the idea of renewing the lousy image of City Nord through culture did not last long: from 2009 onwards, new office blocks were built, the substance renovated, and the artists moved out. The story of these changes is told from the perspective of the activists of “Ebene+14” through interviews, historical photos, 3D reconstructions and current views.
This Project „Das war mal eine tolle Idee. Ebene +14: Oase der Kunst” is a video-collage by Naho Kawabe with narratives by the artists: Annette Mewes-Thoms Eva Wehdemeyer Falk von Traubenberg Josef Greiner Jutta Konjer Oliver Maybohm Wolfgang Schindler (Art Space KX) and Christina Herzig (pharmacist)
Drone: Heiko Neumeister Camera: Naho Kawabe 3D: René Kusnawijaya Sound: Veit Kenner Editing: Naho Kawabe Title logo: Koichiro Isogai Transcript: Lea van Hall Web-Designe: KRYPTOTHEK
This project is supported by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media in Germany NEUSTART KULTUR
The “Camera Isolata” is a project realized through a special grant for artists under the Sars-Cov-19 pandemic from the Hamburgische Kulturstiftung. The motto of this grant is „Art knows no shutdown“ and it supports projects that take an artist’s approach to a world that is under lockdown 2020.
The Latin derived term “Camera Isolata“ characterizes a closed and isolated room – concretely and symbolically – an isolated space situation. Camera Isolata is the space in which we isolate ourselves during the pandemic. At the same time the modern use of the word Camera refers to an electronic optical device, the camera, often built into a computer or smartphone that produces a cut out of people’s upper half, taken from real space and cast into virtual space. This way Camera Isolata becomes an online space, forming its geographic centre somewhere under the ocean in submarine cables like the Asia pacific gateway, the SeaMeWe, the FLAG Atlantic and many others. As the custodian of the Camera Isolata I chose a fictional art-figure loaned from a fossilised yet still existing animal, the Nautilus. This creature that has been living in the oceans for some 500 million years has several hollowed out chambers (camera) in its shell. Its ancient eyes have no lens, creating an image like a camera obscura.
This Project „Camera Isolata” consists of three experiment-videos with six artists who I invited:
accompanied by six short texts about their recent lives in their residences.
At first, I used an online meeting app, of the type that rapidly spread through our societies during this lockdown, to contact the artists living in different and far-flung countries to discuss our situation under the pandemic. As an aside, I asked each of them what they might want do to get to know someone new. Though perhaps a very naive question, after 2020, our previous established ways of making contact with people might change dramatically. I thought, maybe we can make it the subject of this project. Online communication will continue to expand, honing its methods and tools. While it seems convenient for humanity to use this new technology and develop its processual practice, humanity also changes in the process. We found it interesting to explore what is unlikely to work with this new online technology rather than to discuss how to master it – including an awareness of future generations potentially losing today’s knowledge, social behaviours and aesthetic sensibilities.
In the end, we decided to do three communication-experiments / actions in three groups using that small online space of the „Camera Isolata“. In each case two artists – who have never met – spend a certain amount of time together in this room, in quasi quarantine.
When the custodian signals the end of the quarantine period, each isolated artist takes their still running computer and walks out, until the WiFi connection breakes up, symbolising the boundaries of our social connection.
Video sound: Veit Kenner Proofreading: Helmut Kostreba, Masaya Kawakats
This project is supported by Hamburgische Kulturstiftung, Hilfsfonds »Kunst kennt keinen Shutdown« 2020
The video shows constantly moving light reflections on the water. The movements are syncronized with voices of female artists living in Hamburg whose origin is not German and who reflect on their situation as strangers. The video is subtitled in Japanese, which in its defectiveness corresponds to the inadequacies of the artists’ language.
The Video shows an action of woman’s hands (re)uniting 3kg fragments of charcoal to a figure of a tree. During the action the Women explains her private memory about her mother and the political and the everyday life situation in Berlin. They have moved in 1956 from DDR/GDR to West Germany. The way of packing using string she has learned by her mother. Strings were considerably used for post-sending before the plastic tape become prevalent. Her mother has sent many packets from West to East Germany during the 1960′ – 70’s. There was no tape in those days. The tying-technique and this special hand movements will soon be lost. „Eine echte Frau löst jeden Knoten / An authentic woman solves all knots“. This proverb was spoken by a high school teacher in West Germany. When the women in the video heard by her teacher, she was felt provocated. To become a woman needs such a high hurdle .
Exhibitions: Waitingroom, Tokyo (JP) / Boxes Museum, Guangzhou (CN)
Metal, mirror, string, plastic, paper, wood, LED, video (HD, 12’40 ), photo (State Archive Hamburg 720-1 151-81= 17 131), wooden crate: 205 x 146 x 166 cm
Photo: Hayo Heye
720-1 151-81= 17 131
Photo: Hayo Heye
Photo: Hayo Heye
The German-Jewish writer, Heinrich Heine, who lived in Paris in exile. Even the 1891 monument to him, ordered by the Austrian empress Sisi, was taken on an involuntary journey from Rome via Corfu to Hamburg, Marseille and Toulon. Heine’s monument was repeatedly set up in these various locations and then diminished, reviled, smeared, or damaged until it was finally hidden in a wooden crate (for 23 years long). “Wandermüde” is a mixed-media installation about the Odyssey of Heine´s sculptural monument. The video shows the currently view of the statue at the Botanic Gardens in Toulon (2014) and the process of the journey the statue.
Exhibition: Galerie im Marstall, Ahrensburg (DE) Images: catalogue “DELIKATELINIEN” / catalogue “Von Wörtern und Räumen”
A swarm of spheres with different sizes, colors and material, floats in the space. More than 200 spheres made of blunt lead, reflecting glass, colorful plastic, are hanging with invisible threads from the ceiling and are irradiated by a moving spotlight. At first glance the sphere´s swarm looks like an unstructured cloud which keeps faintly moving by the breeze. The colorful swarm is illuminated by a spotlight, placed on a motor, which turns right and left like a searchlight so that the moving shades of the spheres form a sentence fragment on the wall. The sentence, “Die Neige des Menschen”, is a quotation from Walter Benjamin´s essay, “Einbahnstraße”, poem “Optiker” (1928)
Document of installation “Optiker” 2014 at Fukuoka Art Museum, Japan 1′ 09
At the end of the video Perfect Pitcher #1—Song for the forbidden zone, I let the final scene of Tarkovsky’s film Stalker appear briefly as a film still. It shows the view behind the family onto a deserted landscape and a monstrously threatening industrial plant on the horizon: a nuclear power plant. The melancholy of this image pervades the entire video, for the flaming red and cold white flickering of light in combination with the recitation of Hazuki Ogoshi, a musician with perfect pitch, may refer to the catastrophic end of an era. The strangely nervous exposure technique, which mirrors my agitated state, results from the fact that I placed the small web camera in my mouth. Thus, shock and protest were quasi on the tip of my tongue, and my body became the instrument of recording.
A conversation between Aomi Okabe and Naho Kawabe. October, 2012 in: Katalog “Observer Effect“
Wood, metal, raffia, projector, spotlight, video (HD, 8’06, loop)
Based on an original fetish figure of the Mbete tribe in Gabon, which at the same time serves as alter ego of the artist herself, Naho Kawabe expresses her search for the definition of existence in the room-sized installation Why am I here? Kawabe originally discovered the figure at a Hamburg curio shop called Harry’s Hamburger Hafenbasar & Museum, where it was placed together with other fetish figures from different countries, detached from its original function and significance. The figure had probably travelled accidentally to Hamburg by ship and ended up as a “seafarer’s treasure” at the bazaar on Reeperbahn where it stood around as one curio among others, stripped of its cultural context. In Kawabe’s installation, the figure finds itself in another, completely foreign context. Originally a fetish and transplanted into a constantly changing spatiotemporal constellation, the figure raises questions about the stability our self-positioning that is still possible today. Why am I here? confronts the viewer with questions of cultural belonging, border crossings and, in a general sense, the existential question how the coordinates of space and time help shape our identity concepts.
Text by Magnus Pölcher in: Fuzzy Dark Spot. Videokunst aus Hamburg. Deichtorhallen Hamburg / Sammlung Falckenberg