“In 50 years, I’ll be 80 years old and I hope I will have visited a rebuilt Damascus by then.”
Visual artist and writer
Where are you from?
Originally, I’m from a 109 inhabitant village in North Rhine-Westphalia. Having had spent more or less time in Bremen, Cairo, New York and Amsterdam. I’m currently based in Berlin.
Your style in 3 words?
Your weakness? Your strength?
I find it hard to be brief while, often, I think strength lies within the silences.
What makes you different?
Some truly great people I met throughout my life made a difference to me.
When did you decide to become an artist and writer?
I never consciously decided to become any of the above. While graduating from high school, I rather grew obsessed with the idea of attending art school. At that time I had a very romantic idea of the artist or the designer and I wasn’t even aware of the existence of the many other disciplines there were. I don’t know what it’s like to grow up in rural Germany today, but I did grow up in a very protected but also rather conservative environment. I wasn’t really exposed to much or to anything that was “different”. I had to actively search for culture, for new experiences, for encounters, knowledge and inspiration. I was very fortunate to have met some truly inspiring people, who really formed my understanding of art and literature. Besides my parents have always been very supportive, which is a huge privilege as well. I think it’s important to be aware of these things. One doesn’t simply choose what to do or who to become, but is shaped by experiences and by chances. I think we need to create more chances, more opportunities, for more people.
What do you find most fascinating about the creative process?
The complexity of things and the moment in which you really believe in the world you’ve created.
A few words about your favorite creation?
Speculating on the radicalization of youth, the video work “Radical Youth” juxtaposes images of violence and consumerism. Weaving together the ambiguity of commercial, idealogical and personal language, it explores a nuanced study on fluidity, identity and persuasion in times of crisis and societal fragmentation. (Text taken from A School of Schools: Design as Learning, 4th Istanbul Design Biennial; Represented by SulSolSal)
Someone else’s work that inspired or inspires you…
There are so many! I was very much drawn into the universe of Sibylle Berg’s new novel GRM — Brainfuck and the accompanying collection of interviews called NERDS retten die Welt. Which lead me to read one of her older novels, Vielen Dank für das Leben. It really left a lasting impression. In terms of fine art there are many but Ed Atkins’ Old Food comes to mind or Hito Steyerl’s recent show at the Neuer Berliner Kunstverein. But my heart really beats for artistic practices bordering on activism. Like the practice of Jonas Staal (New World Summit), Wolfgang Tillmans (e.g. Eurolab 2018 and Vote together EU campaign), Forensic Architecture or Geert Lovink (Institute of Network Cultures). I also really appreciate the event series Armen Avanessian and Enemies, moderated by the philosopher Armen Avanessian at Volksbühne Berlin. And an unpopular opinion: I’m obsessed with the books of Michel Houellebecq and the movie How to Stay Alive, which is based on Houellebecq’s essay. It is and starring Iggy Pop and was directed by Erik Lieshout.
Who would you like to work with someday and why?
I would love to interview the author, political advisor and terrorism and extremism expert Julia Ebner. I admire her for immersing herself into extremist circles and for her creativity in doing research. Her latest book called Radikalisierungsmaschinen investigates how radicalization works today but also reflects on how social media platforms work in a broader sense. It’s quiet a heavy read.
A new project coming up or an idea you want to work on?
I’m currently working on a research project called Is Everything Ok In Your World?. As part of my research I conduct a series of interviews with experts from different disciplines, basically speculating on how we communicate with each other today. The aim of my project is to explore strategies to counter social fragmentation and the growing popularity of right-wing ideas. Within this context I’m especially interested in the role of information technologies as well as the mainstream media.
Finish the sentence „More important than my career is…“
Only cheesy answers come to mind. They’re all true nonetheless. I think it’s time capitalism as we know it comes to and end. Accordingly, I think discussing the importance of a “career” is obsolete.
2020: Where are we going?
Definitely not back to nationalism.
When the going gets tough…
There’re many struggles and many ways to deal. What always works for me is movement. Sometimes anger works, too. Or CBD.
Put on your future vision glasses: What direction is our generation moving in, what will our world look like in 50 years?
I feel like my generation, Gen-Y, is rather leaning towards lethargy. I feel like the Fridays for Future generation might be more on top of things, demanding radical changes and working to shake the systems that Gen-Y still feels are indestructible. In 50 years, I think that power structures will have shifted. The East, the South, the West — I guess it will all look very different. I think natural disaster will become even more frequent as well as the array of crises. However, I do see hope in that. Systems might prevail then, which are based on solidarity, equality and all these “unprofitable” ideas. In 50 years, I’ll be 80 years old and I hope I will have visited a rebuilt Damascus by then.
What would you do if you could change the World?
The list is long. Here’re just a few ideas: Replace all governments leaders with female identifying persons. Stop the global environmental crisis. Decolonize every layer of society. Re-Distribute power, wealth and resources. Invest into education. Teach media literacy at school.
If the universe is everything and it’s expanding, what is it expanding into?
Tell us about your future plans…
See above (Working on my current project).
Your city’s favorite spots?
Amerika-Gedenkbibliothek and Pablo Neruda Library; Haus der Statistik, Kino International and the Karl-Marx-Allee between Strausberger Platz and Alexanderplatz; Gropius-Bau, KINDL Museum, A—Z Presents at Torstraße, Erratum Galerie in Kreuzberg; Schalander Brewery at RAW Gelände, Würgeengel, Südblock; I love biking through Oranienstraße and I really enjoy Trauma Bar and Kino; I also love the area around the Rathenauhallen in Berlin-Oberschöneweide.
Last but not least: what is your favourite Song?
It’s a lot of names with dollar signs in them at the moment and some Lil Peep but truly and forever — and I know that’s cheesy af — it’s probably: Smells Like Teen Spirit.
One last statement please: „Wood or stone, gold or art?“
Wood and stone.