Jan-Hendrik Pelz – Emerging Artist of the Week
This week’s Emerging Artist is Jan-Hendrik Pelz.
What are you working on right now?
Currently I work together with Johanna Mangold at our video work
„Zaubertrank“ („Magic Potion“). For this work we will brew a magic potion that transforms us into the greatest artists in the world. After detailed research in the field of magic, we collected the appropriate ingredients. We documented every ingredient, corresponding searches and mythical rituals by video. In the course of our video work we perform 23 rituals, which finally will add up to one complete artwork. We are still working on performing and filming the collection of a few remaining ingredients. In a performance as part of a future exhibition, we will concoct the elixir, and at the close, drink it. Jonathan Meese has a guest role: He have to cut three of his hair.
Another project I participate is „Horst & Maria“. It´s about two fictional characters, created by Christian Jankowski and 27 other artists based in Germany, as part of an artist in residency program in Istanbul. The duo always wears blonde wigs and matching outfits. Only their names and haircuts indicate a difference in gender. During their six-month stay at the Tarabya Cultural Academy in Istanbul, Horst & Maria have sequentially been “inhabited” by all 28 artists. Together they recorded their individual experiences through a series of photographs and a shared diary. The 568-page book published now by Walther König represents Horst & Maria´s time in Turkey across three different languages – German, Turkish and English. It will be presented at 2th of November 2017 at the exhibition titled “House of Wisdom” curated by Collective Çukurcuma as part of the public program of the 15th Istanbul Biennial. The publication of the book will be celebrated by a series of Horst & Maria performances.
What is your art about?
Many of my works take on the medium itself or put the medium to the test. My artistic position moves across borders between media, whereby painting and conceptual approaches are fused with performative elements. Among the key starting points of my work are the search for strategies to unveil new ways of image composition, the engagement of the artist as creator, as well as heteronymous influences on the artistic process. The themes in the field of performance and video art revolve around social processes, the integration of urban space as well as its residents, the employment of familiar formulas and their alienation as well as the examination of the self with regard to the observer’s reflections. Work on individual series and bodies of works, some of which are created in collaboration with a team, often extends over a long period of time. Almost always, several pieces are worked on simultaneously. The artistic idea is paramount for me. The idea provides the framework, and this in turn affects how I approach the subject. I’m always looking for ways to leave behind traditional approaches to image creation, and to develop and apply new or alternative methods. For the «Favorites» series that I produced between 2013 and 2015, I asked 66 artists to tell me their favorite flm and give an arbitrary series of numbers as a time code. Then I stopped the flms at the relevant point and converted the resulting unforeseeable stills into paintings. This resulted in 66 oil paintings based on the collaboration between me and the other artists who had named their flms and guided me towards the images. The fnal composition was determined at random by the spontaneous identifcation of the time code numbers.
Do you find your immediate surrounding inspirational?
I get inspiration from different aspects, the most important spheres are projects of other artists, physics, psychology and mystic. But also my environment inspires me all the time. I very much like working in teams with different people. Crossing the boundaries into another area is always inspiring and productive. Artists who only concern themselves with the field of artistic endeavor generally find it difficult to recognize new stimuli and risk spinning in circles. Ultimately this is the case for every area of work.
Which artists or what kind of art has the greatest impact on your work?
There´s no individual kind of art or artist which has great impact on me – it´s the history of art themselves. I´m interested in the changing role of the artist in society and the influence of history on contemporary art. Art is a long line of quotations, we´re all under permanent influence.
How does the internet influence your way of working as an artist?
I have a very personal relationship with digitalization and the internet. My generation grows up with ever-changing improvements of virtual, digital and computer-based possibilities. Looking back, I think I’ve actually grown into the digital age. I am part of the generation that was born analog and grew up digital: sent my first email in primary school, had my first ICQ chat in the eighth grade, then posted photos on Facebook – though I don’t do the latter
any more. As with all fundamental social changes, I think you can make arguments for and against digitalization. If it’s handled well and is integrated properly, there are more pluses than minuses; but this requires both sides – people and technology – to adapt to each other. It’s clear that once humans transform a technology, they are ultimately themselves transformed by it. If we want to avoid the process taking on a life of its own in the worst sense, weneed to be cautious and develop systems that can adapt to us and support us. Human beings should always be the focal point. However, I actually take a very positive view of digitalization. There´s also influence to my way of working. The conception of an image changed with the new options of digital image processing. An image currently consists often of a malleable accumulation of small colored squares, pixels, comparable to a mosaic without fixed tesserae. Nothing is impossible and everybody is able to change images very easyly into desired shapes. In some series of the past I was working on a way to transfer this new conception of an image, the new color and metonymy to oil paintings. The figures, scenery and stories conceptualized in my pictures changed their meaning in every new version I created by using parts and fragments. An example is given by the oil painting series „Sensations“ (2014). “Sensations” shows buildings and ruins from the Staufer era. The decomposition of the image into “pixels,” transferring oil painting into tessellated, abstract color squares – the landscape remains realistic – references the rapid pace of the digital world. It develops its own new aesthetic in communication with the here and now.
See more of his work at Jan-Hendrik Pelz.