“These are not Sunday painters”
Sophie von Olfers on MACHT KUNST
von Olfers is curator at the renowned Portikus in Frankfurt. As jury
member, she selected the best works from the 24-hour exhibition MACHT KUNST in the Deutsche Bank KunstHalle together with the gallerist and
curator René Block and Friedhelm Hütte, Global Head of Art, Deutsche
||ArtMag: How was the selection process for the winning works handled?
Sophie von Olfers: Friedhelm Hütte, René Block,
and I decided that each of us should walk through the exhibition and
propose a work that we should all take another look at together. The
public’s prize was already emerging yesterday evening—a large two-part
painting by the Croatian artist Lovro Artukovic. Selected were work by Sonja Rentsch and Rebecca Michaelis, an
embroidered cloth and a drawing that is subtly reminiscent of
planets, orbits, and the cosmos. I discovered a photograph by Nicolas Balcazar
that I think is really interesting. It portrays the double-exposure
silhouette of a teenager in a baseball cap, through which building and
skyscrapers behind construction fences can be seen. The scene resembles
the outerlying areas around Berlin. I liked that we chose painting,
drawing, photography, and an object without having decided on specific
media ahead of time. This is a wonderful reflection of the wide range
of works in the show.
What did you think of MACHT KUNST (MAKE ART)? Do you really think that everyone is an artist?
not everyone is an artist. But I’d also like to correct something: the
people who brought their works here are not lay people. Some newspapers wrote that the show consisted exclusively of
amateurs. Of course, some of the participants make their art on the
side. But despite that, it’s not a case of dilettantism. Most of these
people are trained artists. Some are professors, and others are still
studying art. They’re not Sunday painters or someone’s grandmother who
brought by her watercolors. The reality is that a very large number of
people have chosen the profession of “artist.”
And this exhibition also shows a reality beyond the institutions, major galleries, and the market.
of course. It happens very quickly that people speak only of this one
percent at the top – the people who have made it, who are then called
the “art world.” But this world goes much further than that.
It’s noticeable that this exhibition attracts a different, less insider-type public. You’re the curator of the Portikus. Did this exhibition make you think about the elite position of the art establishment?
visitors in 24 hours – every exhibition house would give their right
arm for numbers like these. Anyone running a museum or an institution
achieves this in a month at the very best. Yesterday evening, I noticed
how people were standing in the exhibition and talking about art – for
hours on end. Some people were there the whole evening, philosophizing
over the works. That doesn’t happen all that often in the art world I
know. But I have to add that we in the art scene are far more
professional. We go to exhibition openings and events, and it’s our
job, the work we do. And quite often, there isn’t enough time to talk
about the art being exhibited. I think we all miss that. Still, though,
it’s a matter of personal decision – one should always make the time to
exchange views on the art. Everyone involved with the content of art
should do that. It was quite nice to watch people, listen to them,
stand next to them. I liked the way they clearly stated their opinion
on what they found good – or less good. For us, as pros of the art
scene, it’s often hard to judge, to risk taking a clear position.
Did this exhibition give you anything? Did it give the visitors anything?
think it did. I find it incredible to see 2,500 works be submitted over
the course of a single weekend. Think about what that means, to bring
an artwork here because there’s this possibility of showing it. To have
this pride and to stand in line, to submit yourself to the long waiting
period. And then to be happy because your work is exhibited alongside
hundreds of other paintings. That takes guts. And it embodies Berlin in
a pretty cool way.
The second exhibition of MACHT KUNST takes place on April 28/29, 12 a.m. - 12 a.m. in the Alte Münze Berlin.