When Hamburg-based artist and textile designer Katharina Trudzinski decided to take a second residence in Berlin this spring, she found an inexpensive live-work space on the fringes of the up-and-coming Neuköln neighborhood — the city’s equivalent of Bushwick, Brooklyn — and saved two months’ rent by promising the landlord she’d renovate. But it was imagination, not thrift, that inspired her next move: After stripping the wood paneling from the walls and ceilings and tearing down a few ill-conceived door frames, she began painting the detritus and incorporating it into her sculptural installations and high-relief paintings. Made from constellations of scraps, street finds, and everyday junk cloaked in perfectly calibrated hues, her work — some of which becomes inspiration for the pieces in her clothing line — is meant to dialogue with its surroundings. “It’s not my intent that the materials should be cheap, I just like to use things that are around me,” she says. “I like to start with what I’ve got.”
While Trudzinski has moved the majority of her art studio to Berlin, whose eastern half is still conveniently piled high with unwanted flotsam left behind by rapid modernization, her fashion label Hui-Hui remains in Hamburg. She started it with her sister and a friend in 2004 while they were studying fashion design and she textiles, and the line between it and her art practice regularly blurs. Her sculptures, like a recent plywood totem inspired by the Memphis Group and ice cream cones, are sometimes integrated into sets for Hui-Hui’s elaborate lookbook shoots, and her paintings often go on to become scarves, jackets, and jewelry. But the effect also works in reverse, albeit in a more subtle way: Many of those paintings are concerned with materiality, and how objects like toothpicks, popsicle sticks, or wood cuts can evoke the qualities of a fabric’s surface or a pattern traditionally associated with textiles.
When Sight Unseen visited Trudzinski in her new home studio in Berlin, there was precious little to see. She had just put up a piece in a local boutique called Nr.4 — which also carries clothes by Hui-Hui — but she prefers to do nearly all the construction for her installations on-site. The label’s upcoming presentations in Tokyo and Paris, plus the apartment renovation, had also delayed her from getting a proper start in her new digs, and then there was the cruel fate our Canon S90 suffered when it was dropped to the floor mid-shoot. But we still appreciate the chance to introduce our readers to a truly multidisciplinary artist, and to offer a glimpse at her many-layered practice.
When he was an art student in the '80s — in Kassel first, and then Berlin — Markus Linnenbrink worked primarily with grays and blacks. “I had no idea what to do with color,” he admits. “And honestly, I was a little afraid of it.” Which is ironic, considering that for more than a decade, the German-born, Brooklyn-based artist has built a body of work that centers around thick streaks of color — painted in stripes on gallery walls, poured in puddles on the floors of art-fair booths and installations, and dripped in lines down the face of his canvases. “Somehow a field trip to Italy where we spent three weeks painting outside got me into the idea of color, but I had a long period where I would mix, like, red and green. I feel like I had to walk through a lot of dirt and mud to get to the brightness.”
When Dutch artist Eylem Aladogan took her first trip out West in 2006 — three months of driving alone through the Nevada, Utah, and Arizona desert — there was plenty to be afraid of: the wide-openness of the landscape, the sensation of smallness and isolation, the possibility that the only hotel for miles around would be fully booked for the night. “These feelings of restriction at the same time you’re constantly going, driving forward, really inspired me,” says the 34-year-old, who’s based in Amsterdam. “There’s so much energy when you feel that every day.” Enough, it would turn out, to fuel her art for the next four years, as she worked out a way to visually harness those opposing forces of anxiety and empowerment.
For Brazilian artist Antonio Bokel, arriving at the Sid Lee creative offices in Amsterdam this May — where he was about to spend two weeks doing on-site prep for an in-house exhibition — was like a dream come true. For starters, the city’s garbagemen had just gone on strike, leaving mountains of detritus for him to incorporate into his Twombly-esque compositions. And then there was the location itself, arranged for him by local curator and writer Alexandra Onderwater: Having gone to school for graphic design, Bokel has spent nearly a decade using the visual tools of advertising and propaganda against themselves, Shepard Fairey-style, and here he was setting up shop in the back of a marketing agency. The juxtaposition "was a big influence on the show,” he says of his final installation, layered with spray paint, found objects, and words bleeding onto the walls.