I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing a few artists at Kunstlerhaus Bethanien, the world-renowned residency in Kreuzberg. With the residency’s ability to collect a wide array of artists from around the world, I am consistently impressed on both a personal and aesthetic level with nearly all the participating artists I have met. My latest indulgence with this institution was with Liv Strand, a Swedish artist currently in the program. After she worked me into her schedule last week, I picked her brain on a surprisingly pleasant Berlin afternoon.
Behind The Bethanien Scenes
I may have bragged about it before, but I am going to say it again: one of the most impressive aspects of Kunstlerhaus Bethanien’s programming are the jaw-dropping studios given to the artists-in-residence. Titanic in size, the studios are even more stunning with their large windows that invite in the welcoming spring sun.
The content of Strand’s studio is unique compared to the others, however, as its current state is fastidiously cleaned and ruthlessly bare. With the exception of a few pieces of furniture, an immactulate kitchen counter and a desk holding a computer and minimal paperwork, the only other objects in the space were thin, subtley warped pieces of wood lined on the walls of her studio. “They are from Sweden,” Strand informs me, pointing to the series of slim vaneers. “They’re meant as coverings for your wall.”
I admit to her that these look nothing like I’ve seen from her studio practice before. A few months ago, during an open studio visit for guests at Bethanian I was exposed to one of her other pieces. Laying flight on the ground and made out of series of wooden planks and complex machinery, this work was highlighted by a morphing luminous ring. Entitled “Quicksand frontier under-standing (part 1),” the work mesmerized me with its rhythmic movements and subtle transfiguration. For her to be working exclusively out of timber seemed bizarre, but she tells me that for those who are intimately familiar with her practice this wouldn’t seem like such a departure.