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Clément Dirié; What did you do before you opened your gallery in 2011?
Amadeo Kraupa-Tuskany: Nadine and I met in Munich in 2009. Nadine was working as a curator at the Kunstverein. I had just left a post as a researcher at an international law firm in Berlin to finish my PhD in Law and Economics. Nadine studied Art History, Philosophy, and Economics at the University of Bonn and Paris IV-Sorbonne, and worked at the Bonn Kunstverein and Galerie Jocelyn Wolff in Paris before she came to Munich. At the end of my studies, I was unsure whether I should pursue my career in law or follow the passion for art I had had since I was a teenager. I eventually decided on the latter. So I called my favorite gallerist Jan Mot in Brussels and asked him if I could work for him. He said no. But after I jumped on a train and met him, he agreed after all. The day I handed in my dissertation, I packed up, and Nadine and I drove to Brussels.
Nadine Zeidler: In September 2009 I left Munich for a curatorial residency near Cologne, and in 2010 I moved to Brussels to finish a publication project. In Brussels, Amadeo and I met a group of interesting people around Tulips & Roses and became obsessed with Bruno Latour, Collapse, The Speculative Turn, etc. Six months later, I took up a post as a curator at Nottingham Contemporary and lived between Nottingham, London, and Brussels. During that time we started to think more specifically about opening a gallery. We were in conversation with a young generation of artists who were exploring knowledge beyond the tradition of modern rationality. Non-linear narratives and cross-linked thinking were becoming more relevant. Slavs and Tatars’ first prominent statement was Nous sommes les anti-modernes, in reference to Antoine Compagnon. A strong awareness of a new image ecology emerged.
Could you tell us about your first exhibition, which acted as a statement for your program?
The Swedish artist Sture Johannesson (born in 1935) plays a core role in our gallery program. We first encountered his work in a lecture that Joachim Koester gave at Wiels in Brussels entitled ‘Conceptual Artists Are Mystics rather than Rationalists.’ During the lecture Joachim showed a few slides of Sture’s posters from the 1960s. They borrow from a psychedelic aesthetic, but in their composition are much closer to collages by John Heartfield or Hannah Höch, touching on complex political and social issues of his time. That’s why Lars Bang Larsen refers to Sture’s work as ‘sociodelic.’ In the 1970s Sture collaborated with the IBM programmer Stan Kalin, experimenting with early computer graphics. There were no monitors at that time so the entered code would translate directly into the drum plotter’s paper output. There is a beautiful experiment where they printed a whole series of hemp leaves in many different more or less realistic shapes. We were fascinated by this perceived contingency occurring in the interplay between technology and humans.
Another aspect that was very important for us when we got to know Sture was that he never allowed himself to be identified with a particular ideology - when he became too closely associated with the hippie movement he stopped making his posters and began experimenting with Kalin at IBM. He was in correspondence with Ulrike Meinhof, while supporting the Jewish Community in Malm, and so on. We conceived Sture’s exhibition and the four shows that followed as a series that would introduce the gallery’s interests and look at them from different perspectives. After Sture, we showed AIDS-3D, Florian Auer, Slavs and Tatars, and a group exhibition entitled ‘The Still Life of Vernacular Agents’ that included work by Katja Novitskova.
Do you envision your role as gallerists as generational?
To offer a platform for new aesthetics and experimental expression while providing the relevant context has always been our main objective. At the same time, we are always driven by our own interests and curiosity. As a consequence we often engage with visions and ideas that we feel strongly drawn toward, but that we don’t fully comprehend yet. For us, art becomes really exciting if it exceeds any didactic, legible, and coherent mode, and rather works as a catalyst for new ways of looking at the world and its current political, social, economic, and cultural issues. That could probably be described as being contemporary or generational.
We have always been interested in practices that operate outside linear ways of thinking and engage with subversive, non-hierarchical, and hybrid forms of production. Phenomena like syncretism, digitalization, image economies, and post-human tendencies play a key role in the gallery program. Of course it is exciting if the artists we represent share certain objectives or interests and thereby inform each other. But ultimately we are interested in individual artistic practices.
Many of your artists work in relation to global contemporary issues that inform their practice. In parallel, how do you think art might inform the ´real` world?
If we understand the human being as part of a globally-linked and technologically- mediated society, then art is a crucial cultural activity for tackling the need for a constant reassessment of our actions, and to make sense of our flexible and multiple identities.
How would you describe the Berlin art scene today and your relationship to it?
It was always clear that we would want to open the gallery in Berlin. It is a very open, international, and generous city. It is constantly changing and very stimulating without being overly exhausting. Berlin provides fantastic production conditions for artists, and that’s not only because of the spaces, but also because of the great craftsmen and producers in the city. There is a great local scene of publishers, writers, critics, collectors, and curators. There are also very engaged collectors that are making substantial commitments to the art scene—not only those permanently based here, but also those that see Berlin as their second cultural home.
This feature is an extract from Art Basel | Year 49. For more information on Art Basel publications including stockists, please click here.
Top image: exhibition view of Katja Novitskova's ‘Spirit, Curiosity and Opportunity’ at Kraupa-Tuskany Zeidler, Berlin, 2014. Courtesy of the artist and Kraupa-Tuskany Zeidler, Berlin. Photo by Hans-Georg Gaul.