Friday, 29 April 2011 09:43

Wired in #10: Special Edition - Urban Observations / Christopher Winter

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Wired in is 10! And to celebrate this is a special edition that gains a real insight into a European city by talking to the artists that shape it. This week we interview a great online project called 'urban observations' and a fascinating artist who participated in it! Journalist Christoph Janosch Delcker, who participated in E&M's Hamburg workshop in January, put together twelve interviews with artists from NYC and Berlin and inquired into their relationship with these cities. His last video features Berlin based painter Chris Winter, originally from the UK, to explore the city's vibrant art scene. Check out E&M's Wired in # 10 and find out what they think about art, music and Europe! 

Urban Observations: Christopher Winter from Urban Observations on Vimeo.

E&M: Janosch, when did you first come up with the idea of this project?

JD: That was in the autumn of 2009. I had just moved from Berlin to New York and many people told me, "The cities of New York and Berlin are just like sisters." This roused my interest, and I wanted to investigate it further. The idea was to have six artists in each city speaking about what their city meant to them. The first episode of the series went online in March 2010. Each month, a new episode was released; in February 2011, the last and 12th episode featuring Chris Winter closed the series.

E&M: So your blog started with artist portraits from NYC. In what way is focusing on a European city different?


JD: Interesting question. I don't think that working as a journalist in New York differs very much from working in Berlin; it's always about observing, being attentive, listening, and trying to capture decisive moments. That being said, as objects of photography and videography, New York and Berlin are somehow different. One of the artists I interviewed  said, "New York is a vertical city, whereas Berlin is a horizontal city". I would agree with that: with the high-rises in Manhattan, and the industrial landscape in the boroughs, New York seems like a bit more of a 'photogenic city,' if you will. In Berlin, you have to look more closely when shooting, I guess.

E&M: Why did you decide to interview Chris Winter for your project?

JD: I stumbled across his works and got interested. Like all the other artists I had worked with, I first met him for a pre-production interview, without microphone or camera. I felt that he had a story to tell, and those are the people I'm interested in. Also, I found it interesting that he is a Brit living in Berlin, which is very representative for the city; Berlin has become such an international melting pot, with people from all over the world.

'Berlin is such a melting pot, with people from all over the world.'

E&M: So Chris, in what way does music affect your art?

CW: Music doesn't affect my art directly but it is something which is always present in the studio and can even affect the mood or give a painting its title. I go through phases of listening to just one artist like Radiohead. The musical effect can be very strong. Pit Baumgartner from De PHAZZ also used my works for his solo Album "Tales of Trust", giving a title to a song from one of my paintings "Virgin Forest" We subsequently worked on an audio project together "Ich zeig dir was..." with text, music and images.

Photo: Christian Janosch Delcker
Chris Winter in his studio

E&M: In Janosch's video, you speak about the importance of punk from the 70's, are there common themes between punk and your art?

CW: I think that the attitude of punk and its energy is a great influence on what I do. Provocation and change was very much part of the punk movement. Over the years the need to provoke with my art has led to making works like "Art Slave- Artistic as Fuck"  or videos like "1977" which deals with the years when punk music broke through all the boring hippy stuff. Of course the punks hated the hippies.

E&M: Why did you decide to move to Germany?

CW: I originally came to Germany on a scholarship as Mannheim's Artist in Residence. This was a great opportunity to start learning German and there was a very healthy art scene here. Then I decided to do a postgraduate at Düsseldorf Art Academy and stayed. My move to Berlin was the best decision and there is a fantastic international artistic community in the city.

E&M: You have exhibits in cities all over the world. Do people perceive your art differently in each country?

CW: Yes I believe they do. I don't want to go into international stereotypes but an American viewing a picture with kids in traditonal Bavarian clothes sees something completely different to what a German would see. For a while I was playing with how these perceptions work and also my own cultural baggage as an Englishman living in Germany. I think I have now moved on and I'm producing works that are more universal.

Photo: Uwe Walter
'Velocity Boy (riding with the destroying angels)', Acrylic on canvas, 2009

E&M: What role do music and art play in creating a European identity?

CW: I think they play an extremely strong role , especially as there is still a lot of pop which is sung in our native languages like German, Spanish, Italian or French. There is an extra kick that you get from hearing a song about something you know or the street that you live on. Unfortunately the bland international pop scene that has been created by the internet and shows like the X-Factor make everything sound very similar. But perhaps this bland-pop was always around in the charts. I mean look at Nana Mouskouri in the 70's. Our art and our music put us very high on the cultural map. We have a huge cultural heritage in Europe which is a great resource for creating new ideas. This shapes our identity.

E&M: Janosch, how do you find the soundtracks that you match with your interviews?

JD: For the series, I worked with various musicians; all of them are great artists from all over the world. When deciding which music to use, I always had two things in mind: first of all, the music had to somehow illustrate the general atmosphere of the clip and the personality of the artist. At the same time, it had to fit to the urban photographs and the story being told. Actually, there is one musician I worked with most: keychee, a Berlin-based artist. He is an amazing musician - I like his stuff, because his music has this urban and cinematic feel to it without turning into kitsch. He is a videographer himself, maybe this is why his music works great with images.

E&M:  And finally guys, what does Europe mean to you?

CW: To me Europe means getting in the car, driving south, eating Weisswurst, Fondue and Pizza, hearing 4 different languages and being in 3 different countries all in one day. I love its diversity!

JD: As a European, it means the place where I was born. As a journalist, it means a lot of stories out there to be told. 

E&M: Thank you for a great interview, and thank you readers for following us for 10 editions! We'll be back next Friday with a new band from somewhere in Europe!!

Last modified on Saturday, 16 February 2013 12:03

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