Interview by Anna C. Purcell, photos by Anna Palmer in Berlin; Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012
With the diversity of contemporary works, it seems implausible to find a space that fits all– artists, methods, and content range too dramatically. Two Berliners embraced the need for change, initiating the search for individualistic physical spaces. Thus, the dynamic partnership of Anna Jill Lüpertz and Sophie Weiser was born. Together, they combine to strengthen AJLART, a project based in Berlin that revolves around the concept that spacial flexibility should mirror an exhibtion’s composition.
Berlin Art Link was fortunate to speak with these two incredibly vibrant women during the installation of their upcoming exhibition at Epicenter Art, “sublim kursiv” (Opening Sept. 12).
ANNA C. PURCELL: As I understand, the project began solely under Anna. How exactly did the two of you begin to collaborate on AJLART?
ANNA JILL LÜPERTZ: I started with the idea before I met Sophie, but then I had not worked it out like it is today. I basically started with U-37, and I was thinking about opening a gallery in some way– not in the traditional way, but you know, changing and being a nomad. And then I met Sophie before I opened my first exhibition. So what AJLART is now is a team thing, we do it together. We met through our first exhibition, and the artist Steff Loewenbaum, who is Sophie’s best friend, brought her with him for help –and then I just convinced her to stay.
I believe in synergies. If you are sitting alone in your room, you can have big ideas, but you need someone to play them out with. Luckily, I found Sophie
and then everything got easier. Our collaboration is so special because she knows about so many things, topics about which I have no clue. We each have our own specialties, and then we meet on certain shared interests.
Sophie, how does your background affect your work?
SOPHIE WEISER: I come from advertising project management as well as communication. I also did a degree in marketing and PR. I came from a bit of an underground-ish notion of art. So, when I met Anna, we came from completely different circles, which make the exhibitions really vibrant.
Do you consult with artists in terms of choosing a location to exhibit their works? How much input do they have in the process?
AJL: No, we make our minds up about what exhibition we want to do. What we did in the past year, and what we are still in the process of, is bringing together the artists we want to work with as a gallery. So we talk to them and we make plans about when to do the exhibition. Then lastly, we pick which space will fit best. So no, we usually do not consult with the artists, because I think [choosing the space] is not artist-work.
Are there spaces you frequent?
AJL: Sometimes, we fall deeply in love with a room, as we have with Potsdamer Strasse 98. It is owned by a foundation. They don’t use it the entire year, so if it’s free, they call me or I call them. This year, we’ll do another show there. Usually, they are rooms that we fall in love with for a time, and then we move on.
What makes a space more inviting to a variety of artists and their works? What makes a space idiosyncratic and limiting?
SW: Gut feeling– definitely, gut feeling– and luck.
AJL:: It should have a roof, and a door we can close.
SW:: Yeah, a door is important.
To date, what do you believe is your most successful show? How did the elements of the physical space complement the pieces exhibited?
SW: I don’t think there is such a thing as a most successful show. I think the success always comes in the shows themselves, it is just the lead-up that defers a show’s level of success. It is whether the collaboration with the artist and the other people involved, and whether those partnerships get more stressful or not that determine if it is a “smooth” show.
Also, could you describe your upcoming show for Berlin Art Week?
AJL: For which one?
SW: There are four!
AJL: We have Kerstin Schroeder opening tonight; Daniel Kannenberg, which is opening on September 7th; Pietro Sanguineti on September 15th; and then we have a big group show– which I’m so happy about– opening on the 12th (which includes Christian Boltanski, Robert Montgomery, Douglas Gordon, and Imi Knoebel, [amongst others]).
SW: Everyone is sending us huge pieces, amazing works that match the concept so beautifully.
How do you see the project expanding in the future?
SW: We are rapidly approaching around 30 shows, just this year. From now until the end of the year, we do not really have time to relax, which is great. We are going to Miami in December. We’ve been invited to the Context Art Fair by LVBG.
AJL: An open call was put out for galleries– it’s like a Berlin art space and then you get 28 square meters in which you have to present a concept with three artists. And they chose us. It’s fantastic.
Obviously, there is a certain amount of flexibility that comes with not owning a static space. Outside of that, what do you find to be more challenging and/or more positive about this structure?
AJL: I would love to have a credible, perfect, huge white cube on the best street in Berlin, and then search for special events in other spaces. That would be very comfortable. We just simply can’t afford that…
SW: …yet! From time to time it is a lot more stressful. Sometimes we have an abundance of rooms available to us, and sometimes that just doesn’t happen. And then someone cancels a room at the last minute, and then you have a bit of a problem because you have an exhibition the next week. There is sometimes extreme pressure on the projects we do. We are probably not as relaxed as most gallerists.
AJL: There are two sides of it: if I want to do a certain show, and if my gallery is not appropriate for it, what should I do? I like the idea of changing.
Anna C. Purcell is pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in English and American Literature. Originally from New York, she is currently living and studying in Berlin.
Anna Palmer is a photographer that lives and works in Berlin. www.hotelpalmer.com