Collector Julia Stoschek Launches Pop-Up Show During Berlin Biennale

Her collection is dedicated to time-based media.

German collector Julia Stoschek.Photo: Şirin Şimşek.
Julia Stoschek, In front of the 'Kill-Wallpaper', 2003 by Sturtevant. Photo: Şirin Şimşek.

High-profile collectors of ephemeral art are a rare breed, and German collector Julia Stoschek is at the forefront. Her interest in “time-based media art” has guided her towards collecting works of performance, video, and new media, from performance pioneers like Marina Abramović to post-Internet superstars like Amalia Ulman.

Her collection is housed in Düsseldorf, complete with a media art depot for preservation and long-term archiving. Next week, however, Stoschek will open a second space, a temporary outpost in a former Czech Cultural Center in Berlin Mitte, converted by architect Johanna Meyer-Grohbrügge into a 2,500-square-meter space worthy of exhibitions.

Opening on June 2, the show, titled “Welt Am Draht” (World on a Wire), conveniently coincides with the opening of the 9th Berlin Biennale, and indeed, her collection is congruent with the hyper-contemporary themes of the DIS-curated, citywide exhibition. Representing Stoschek’s collection in Berlin is a diverse roster of media artists, from Frances Stark, Ed Adkins, and Josh Kline, to Hannah Black, Britta Thie, and Timur Si-Qin. Stoschek spoke with artnet News via email on the occasion of her Berlin expansion, shedding light on the exhibition’s aims, and what to expect from the temporary satellite.

Facade of the Julia Stoschek Collection. Courtesy Julia Stoschek Collection.

Facade of the Julia Stoschek Collection. Courtesy Julia Stoschek Collection.

What is the significance of the exhibition’s title?
Welt Am Draht is the name of a cult 1973 German science-fiction film by Rainer Werner Fassbinder, which was itself based on the novel Simulacron 3, by Daniel Francis Galoye from 1964. I chose the title because the film and book present an acute and anxious vision of the future—they imagine a world powered and controlled by super-computers. I found this film deeply emblematic of what the artists are exploring in their work.

What can viewers expect from the new space and exhibition?
You can expect some varied and exciting work—the inaugural exhibition presents recent work by 20 international artists that I all really respect, including Rachel Rose, Britta Thie, Josh Kline, Ed Atkins, Helen Marten, and Juliana Huxtable. We’ll have all kinds of approaches to digital and time-based-media art, including video installation, performance, live computer simulation, Internet-based work, and sculpture. The diverse artistic approaches on display explore several themes: Self-presentation in contemporary identity, the definition of time and transience, the need for “optimization,” the construction of consumer and product experiences in capitalist societies, and the individual’s inner turmoil in digital culture. We’ve chosen works for the show that are critically questioning the limitations and justifications of digital technology.

Ed Atkins, Even Pricks(2013) HD video, 8’00’’, color, sound. Courtesy of the artist and Cabinet, London.

Ed Atkins, Even Pricks(2013)
HD video, 8’00’’, color, sound. Courtesy of the artist and Cabinet, London.

After the exhibition, will you consider extending your occupation of the space?
I am really interested in a long-term engagement for the collection in Berlin. So I see this as the beginning of our relationship with the city. Of course we will consider many things after the exhibition—including staying here longer. But it’s a little early to say.

How did you decide on the former Czech Cultural Center?
Well I had ideas of what I needed from the space—particular dimensions, a look-and-feel of the building and location in the right part of the city, but this space particularly appealed to me because of its history. Its role as a cultural center in former East Berlin, in the GDR, is interesting and it really sparked my imagination. I like the idea of continuing its cultural identity as a building.

Hannah Black, Bodybuilding (2015). Courtesy of the artist and Diet Gallery, Miami.

Hannah Black, Bodybuilding (2015). Courtesy of the artist and Diet Gallery, Miami.

Will having a second space impact your collecting habits?
I don’t really collect based on the spaces I have, it’s a little more personal and long-term when deciding what to acquire. The exhibition schedule is certainly in the early stages, and it will be interesting to see how the Berlin audience reacts to the new space and the works. Maybe the audience will be quite different, maybe the focus of the spaces will be different, but I couldn’t say yet.

How will your opening speak in dialog with the opening of the Berlin Biennale?
I think the Biennale deals with similar issues and we do have a lot in common. A key difference is that we will fairly tightly curate an exhibition that is contained in just one space, rather than across the city. I do have a very close relationship with the KW and the Berlin Biennale since I am member of the board and now chairman. So for me it makes sense to be collaborative, and indeed, the artists are very much looking forward to the connections between the projects.

Timur Si-Qin, Visit Mirrorscape: Arrive (2016). Blacklit tension fabric display, aluminium frame, LED light system. Courtesy of the artist and Sociéte, Berlin.

Timur Si-Qin, Visit Mirrorscape: Arrive (2016). Blacklit tension fabric display, aluminum frame, LED light system. Courtesy of the artist and Sociéte, Berlin.

What interests you about time-based media art? Is it a challenging type of work to collect?
My approach to collecting is to create an image of the cultural and social condition of my generation. The moving image reflects the ephemeral, which is a defining feature of our time. This is one of the reasons why the main focus is on time-based media art and also on performance.

I think the main challenge is the technical aspect. For collectors there was and still is a significant trepidation about art that is, first of all, easily reproduced and, second, sustained by a technological medium. In addition, presenting video art is time-, cost-, and space-intensive. The greatest challenge however lies in its proper archiving, which constantly increases in complexity. Media and the platforms for the work have modernized rapidly and changed fundamentally in the last decades. Of course, artists have also become aware of these procedures of archiving and collecting, and their particular challenges. So we are facing constantly evolving and changing strategies and circumstances, which I think is exactly what keeps collecting video art fresh and intriguing.

Do you have plans to expand into other cities in the future?
Well….you never know!


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