Monday, November 24, 2008

Art Space Talk: Beatrix Reinhardt

Beatrix Reinhardt is the second place winner of the Miami Basel competition sponsored by myartspace and the Bridge Art Fair. The competition involved a world class jury panel from the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Jose Museum of Art, Whitney Museum of Art and the Bridge Art Fair. Beatrix Reinhardt was born in Wolgograd, Russia and grew up in former East Germany. Reinhardt received her M.F.A. in photography from Illinois State University, her M.A. in Media Studies from the New School for Social Research and her B.A. in New German Literature (minors: linguistics and psychology) from the Freie Universit├Ąt Berlin. She has taught widely in Europe, North America, Australia and Asia. Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally.

Pathfinder Hunting and Gun Club, Fulton, NY. c-print

Brian Sherwin: Beatrix, you are the second place winner of the Miami Basel competition. As you know, the competition was a joint effort between and the Bridge Art Fair. Can you discuss what attracted you to the competition and why you decided to enter?

Beatrix Reinhardt: Art Basel is one of the most important events – it is a big art fair with many fairs, including Bridge, surrounding it.

BS: How did you feel going into the competition? Also, in your opinion, why is it important for artists to compete in juried competitions of this nature?

BR: I did not have any feeling or expectations entering.

BS: Beatrix, can you discuss what attracted you to photography?

BR: Photography attracted me because of its quietness and forcefulness at the same time.

Tantra Club, London, UK. c-print

BS: Do you have formal training in photography? If so, can you discuss that experience and perhaps discuss some instructors who have influenced you?

BR: I started photography classes at the New School and continued (with MFA) at Illinois Sate University. Wolfgang Schiermacher (New School) and Rhondal McKinney and Scott Rankin (both ISU) and my fellow graduate students at Illinois State University influenced me.

BS: You have stated that the politics of space has been the center of interest in your work. For example, how demarcation can be achieved through decoration. Can you go into further detail about this and the thoughts behind your work in general?

BR: Yes, The politics of space has been the center of interest in my work. How demarcation can be achieved through decoration and organization, the way individuals express themselves through how they organize, use and decorate their spaces, and how this can be seen as an expression of cultural values, ideals, beliefs, individual taste and sensibilities; and how architecture and decoration can reflect temporary liberation from everydayness are discussed in my photographic works.

Candy Club, Beijing, China. c-print

BS: Your photographs, such as the Club series, are void of people yet a certain presence is captured nonetheless. Can you go into further detail about this choice and what it represents to you?

BR: Sometimes human residue is more revealing than the humans who occupy these spaces. Most of my photographs are un-peopled but replete with human presence, visible in form of the social relations conveyed by the organization of space. The absence of living beings in my work, which was a gradual development, is not a matter of formal convenience. It is rather motivated by allowing an unencumbered view of a social landscape, revealing information about the people who interact in these spaces, creating real and imagined narratives for the viewer.

BS: What is the specific message you strive to convey to viewers of your work? Do you have a specific message in mind?

BR: No, that is impossible. I have an intention but no specific message.

Cretan Club, Astoria, NY. c-print

BS: Do you mind telling us about your process in general? For example, is your work intuitive or is there a great deal of planning as for where and when you shoot?

BR: Photographing clubs took planning because I needed the permission to photograph. I started the Club series in 2003 in Australia, during an artist-in-residency at the Australian National University in Canberra. Meanwhile, I photographed clubs in China (2005), the U.S. (2006/07/08), Spain (2006), Ukraine (2008) and England (2004).

My interest in clubs was sparked by the attitude of Australians towards these entities – many of the citizens belong to at least one, but more commonly to several clubs. Clubs appeared to be institutions of great significance within the social landscape. I never have been a big enthusiast of organized “togetherness”, which I always contributed to my upbringing in former East Germany, where a schedule of memberships was awaiting since the day one was born.

Thinking about the notions the concept club has to offer has been fascinating and extremely intriguing. To me, Clubs are the nexus of homogeny and heterogeny. It is that space where “like” comes together and “unlike” stays apart. The club manifests the accomplishment of a unified “taste” a harmony, a bringing together of certain personal elements, which could, quite possibly otherwise have been kept apart. However, what remains apart is just as important as what comes together to constitute the club. That is, it is not only due to the nature of union that the club is defined and takes on a meaning but also due to the nature of exclusion.

Exclusion becomes a main attribute of a club but more importantly it is what it excludes that becomes the defining characteristic of the club in question. All these notions, so I hope, have visual manifestations, which became the focus of this body of work.

Hellenic Club, Canberra, Australia. c-print

BS: Tell us more about your influences. For example, are you influenced by any specific artist or world event?

BR: I am influenced and admire different artists for particular notions, for instance Robert Frank’s ability to sequence images, Gregory Crewdson’s use and control of light and the surface quality of his images, Judith Samen’s formalism that evokes humor, the Becher’s discipline, Boris Mikhailov’s subject matters, Shizuka Yokomizo’s anonymous way of collaboration, Allan Sekula’s ideological visual clues, Wang Qingsong’s clever incorporation of art history, Katy Grannan’s captured honesty…the change of environment – having all senses reshuffled is also important. Artist-in-residencies in different parts of the world are essential I find.

BS: What are you working on at this time? Can you give our readers some insight into your current practice?

BR: I usually work on several projects simultaneously. I am working on a project about police hats and about a gas pipeline (Die Trasse) in the Ukraine.

ChangAn Club, Beijing, China. c-print

BS: Aside from the space at the Bridge Art Fair, will you be involved with any other upcoming exhibits?

BR: No, not really. I am concentrating on developing new bodies of work at the moment.

BS: Finally, is there anything else you would like to say about your art or the goals that you have?

BR: I would like to make a book of the club series.

You can learn more about Beatrix Reinhardt by visiting her myartspace profile-- You can read more of my interviews by visiting the following page--
Take care, Stay true,

Brian Sherwin
Senior Editor

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Love your work..Your a great teacher..John Colomara