Alicja Kwade, artist: 'My work is like a searching process. To think forward and try to learn'
Saturday 26 April 2014
Alicja Kwade works in a large building that she shares with other artists in the far east of Berlin. Formerly a film studio, its main claim to fame is that Blue Angel, starring Marlene Dietrich, was produced here.
Kwade was born in Katowice, Poland, in 1979. She studied art in Berlin and in 2008 won the prestigious Piepenbrock Förderpreis für Skulptur with a show at the Hamburger Bahnhof Museum of Contemporary Art.
Time and light, made palpable in the forms of retro-seeming lamps and clocks, often feature in her work. An early piece, a clock, whose face is obscured by a mirror, has a speaker that amplifies the sound of ticking and chiming. "I try to freeze… to make time readable from both directions – from past to present, and from present to future. To kind of make it physical," she says.
It is not surprising then that there is a neatly arranged shelf unit full of antique clocks and lamps in her studio. When I comment on its almost obsessive order, she laughs. "There is a black hole of a storage unit nearby."
Her work is about discovery, "It's like a searching process, it's searching for something. To think forward and try to learn." A recent sculpture is based on how value is ascribed to gold in what Kwade feels is almost an arbitrary fashion. She followed the prices of precious metals on the London Stock Exchange, and, after experimenting with various ideas, made a sculpture that physically demonstrates the diversity of values of various metals – and so becomes a "a portrait of an economic second".
We thumb through a book of photographs of her previous projects, including one that she did prior to having a gallery with her younger brother, who is now an art dealer. "We removed the metal posts for bicycles, bent them and then replaced the misshapen ones. We did it at night and laughed and laughed but they were hard to get out."
The police were called and she had to sort out the "temporary vandalism" claim that was brought against both her and the company she had hired to remove the posts.
Duchamp and his ready-mades are a huge influence on Kwade. "It can be, like, a ready-idea or a ready-structure or whatever. It's just like a ready-something, you know, and you can still use that and create something new out of it."
She recently reduced petrified palm trees to sandy rubble – a task that meant a lot of back-breaking work for her and her assistants. She did the same with mirrors. "I collected a lot of old mirrors, and then effectively crushed it back to the size of sand." Is she superstitious? "Oh yes! A lot of bad luck. Thousands of years!"
TVJamie's Sugar Rush reveal's campaigning chef's new foe
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 What marriage would look like if we actually followed the Bible
- 2 President Obama leaves touching comment on Humans of New York photo from Iran
- 3 If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don't change Europe's attitude to refugees, what will?
- 4 The Chinese city where men have 'three girlfriends because there are so many women'
- 5 'Heartbreaking' Syria orphan photo wasn't taken in Syria and not of orphan
The Gamechangers trailer: Daniel Radcliffe stars in GTA movie
Star Wars: New action dolls launched on Force Friday ahead of The Force Awakens release
Ricki And The Flash, film review: Meryl Streep's rock'n'roll creation steals the show
Joan Aiken: Today's Google Doodle celebrates life of British fantasy novelist
Photographer captures the beauty and intensity of his girlfriend giving birth at home
Britain to take more refugees as Cameron bows to pressure after more than 250,000 back our campaign
Senior British politicians tell David Cameron: When dead children are being washed up on beaches – it's time to act
Jeremy Corbyn calls Osama bin Laden's killing a 'tragedy' - but was it taken out of context?
If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don't change Europe's attitude to refugees, what will?
If you're not already angry about the refugee crisis, here's a history lesson to remind you why you really should be
Refugees welcome: More than 250,000 sign Independent petition calling for Britain to 'take its fair share'