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„TRANSFORMATION“ Solo Exhibition by LASHA TCHRELASHVILI

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"TRANSFORMATION" Solo Exhibition by LASHA TCHRELASHVILI

ARTIST: LASHA TCHRELASHVILI
CURATED BY: IRINA RUSINOVICH
LOCATION: Bulowstrasse 11, 10789, Berlin
EXHIBITION DURATION: 02.06.2022 – 18.06.2022
VERNISSAGE: 02.06.2022 AT 7PM

Pictorial traditions in art have a very deep and long history. Since the Middle Ages and Renaissance artists have been trying to find their unique and individual way, form of utterance. Painters used color as a medium and expression method, escaping more and more new facets of interpretations. In the Symbolism tradition, artists used color as a code, where each color had its own meaning. And today many painters are working with color very carefully and attentively, using colors as sights and some sort of visual message.

In the TRANSFORMATION project Lasha Tchrelashvili is reflecting about the inner force that all of us have inside. Today, when the whole world is in a permanent crisis, we have many problems: social, political and ecological. Everyday we have to fight with circumstances and with ourselves, make moral choices day by day. We should be strong to stay human, to not go insane.   

Artist uses color as an image language, telling for viewers the story of his life through sharp abstract images. His artworks are abstractive and very expressive. When we look closely, we see that all forms on canvas look like they are in movement, like in second they will be in another place, in another world.

Visitors of the exhibition with autor go on a journey through the years, through the important events of the artist’s life. From canvas to canvas we see the history of Lasha’s maturity, the process of tempering his character. 

LASHA TCHRELASHVILI 

Painting process is a kind of a thinking process for me. Sometimes you get distracted, other times you’re fully invested. It’s a dynamic process both emotionally and conceptually. My paintings are products of this thinking process which I then observe. Through these observations I analyze my internal, spiritual state and my position in relation to the universe. My intention is not to contain the dialogue within my own world, therefore I open up the conversation with a question. I title my paintings as a question in order to spark the desire for exploration within the viewers themselves. 

The main accent of my paintings is a state of transcendence. In this state of liminality the relationship between familiar and unfamiliar takes you through a mysterious experience.

Ukrainian women in Photography

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Ukrainian women in Photography

Eva Dzhyshyashvili

I explore myself deeper and deeper to finally find myself on top of personal
perception, through reflection the image is manifested, the generalized female image of which I become a part. Private, individual, personal leads to the generalized. I concentrate on the parts, looking at the fragments of my body to crumble and relieve tension. Because it is not me anymore, on the surface a female image, so powerful and fragile. And I’m in the depths.

„Swan“ Symbolic revival by Anna Cherkas

This project presents autographic images. The author symbolizes himself with a white swan.
The goal of the project is openness and acceptance of your body. Reflection of the
symphony, with the help of the body and feminine natural beauty, in a symbolic image.

According to belief, the bird is equated with human qualities. They are a symbol of true sincere feelings, pure and mutual love. According to the sign, the swan is a bird of poets. A meeting with him is considered lucky.

HAIR by VICTORIA LIKHOLYOT

Ph: Victoria Likholyot
Models: Victoria Likholyot, Tatiana Afanasieva

Long hair in modern culture is a female secondary sex characteristic. I religion, traditional culture, mythology, many stories are associated wit women’s hair: from the traditions of covering the hair after the wedding to the Christian stories about Saint Agnes, who had her hair grown to cover he nakedness.

Victoria Likholyot is a photographer based in Kharkiv, Ukraine. She studied photography at the School of Contemporary Art and the Chekachkov Photo Academy, both in Kharkiv, Ukraine. Likholyot’s work has been exhibited at the Kharkiv Municipal Gallery, Kharkiv, Ukraine; Lavra Gallery, Kyiv, Ukraine; and the
Grand Palais, Paris, France. She is currently a lecturer of Feminist art at the Karazin National University in Kharkiv, Ukraine.

Julia Lazumirska

Christina Yang „Red Noise“

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RED NOISE

Production: Christina Yang (@christ.ywn) & Ruka Zheng (@zwenjiejie)
Photographer: Christina Yang (@christ.ywn)
Styling: Ruka (@zwenjiejie)
HMUA: Wenzi 
HMUA Assistant: Yeye
Model: Rain 
Assistant: Shao & Kun

Wardrobe:
Fashion Design:
Aojierou (@aojierou) 
Yueqi Qi (@_yueqiqi) 
022397 Bluff

Accessories:
Sunwanw (@sunwanw) 
Mojo G 
#MX# 
MATHILDA
GEL啫喱

Interview with Female Artists from HAZEGALLERY

By /ART/, /INTERVIEW

Text: I r i n a  R u s i n o v i c h
All photos are provided by the authors of the HAZE Gallery

Interview with Female Artists from HAZEGALLERY

Interview with Marina WitteMann

What artwork/series of works do you find pivotal for your career? 

It was a series of colour fields made of paper that has become a turning point for my career as an artist. Prior to that, I analyzed every work of mine considering it to be a new step of development. Thus, my creative self evolved and infused with each of my artworks. However, even I was amazed by what happened at the very beginning of this series.

Ever since I can remember it, I have enjoyed a special relationship with colour. It’s called synesthesia: when sensations emanating from one sense organ are also manifested in another one, for example, seeing the pain in colour or feeling the shape of a cold. Therefore, my art revolved around this. Before, I didn’t understand why it happened. The desire to analyze, reproduce, compare the colour with form and material prompted me to do new experiments. 

I love oil paints for its texture and colour purity, but this has never been enough for me. I felt a need to go beyond the canvas, to feel the colour in the space. In sculpture, the shape interferes with the colour, that’s why I opted for it. The way I work now allows me to use paint and other materials as they are, leaving out the original colour and the history of these objects. That’s how I translate the emotions I experience daily through artistic materials.  

How has being a woman affected your career?

Surprisingly, I have always enjoyed being a woman, though perfectly realizing that women tend to think in a too complicated way and yield to emotions. All that prevents women from discarding the unnecessary and focusing on what is really important. I cultivated those qualities myself, so now I can control my emotions, while still enjoying my feminine essence. I seek to express the tenderness and softness of female nature in the floral and gentle shape of my art objects. The paper structure catches the eye and lets one penetrate the surface at the same time, just like the woman nature implies.

What makes a great artist?

It seems to me that an artist becomes great when their art begins to resonate in the souls and the minds of other people. It’s just the way it works in all spheres of life. A great artist is capable of creating a piece that is equally simple and complex. For example, imagine a work where a composition reveals through the material, while the material, in turn, establishes many associations the viewer might recognize. The colour grabs attention and starts a discussion; the texture excites and awakens a desire to touch the piece, to communicate with it physically… From the work, the viewer gains a longstanding experience and a sense of time. Therefore, a great artwork is inevitably modern, as it reveals the timeless conditions of being alive. 

Which other great women artists inspire you and why?

This list is endless. And by the way, I don’t divide artists into men and women. Primarily, I look at the object or the non-material result of work and only then, will I read the author’s story. I can still highlight a few of my favourite female artists and just women with a capital letter W. A great woman who inspires me is not just a woman who paints with oil or makes sculptures. For me, it’s a creative being full of willpower, authenticity, and capacity to communicate with people and life. 

Here I would like to mention Matrona Moskovskaya as one of my sources of inspiration. Saint Matrona was blind and lost the ability to walk early in life. With all the hardships, she was so strong in spirit that she kept working wonders for people. So those miracles for me are what artists should strive for in their artistic practice. In general, being an artist and a saint at the same time, like Andrei Rublev, for example, seems to me an especially fruitful combination (and history proves it). 

Another Russian artist who inspires me is the ballerina Maya Plisetskaya. Her energy, passion, hard work, strong character, elegance and progressive thinking are what I am guided by in my work. 

Choreographer Sharon Eyal is no less inspiring for me. When I first saw her Untitled black performance in Shanghai, it felt like a shock and an extravaganza. I was struck by the incredible naturalness of the movements the troupe did on stage. Music, costumes — everything looked as if it were taken from the future. It seems to me a real work of art should be just like that: progressive, challenging, highly material, and sensual.

In general, I tend to consider my contemporaries while searching for inspiration. For example, artist Phyllida Barlow is like a teacher to me now. If I have a question, I will certainly look for an answer in Barlow’s works. I love the simplicity of her materials and the way they’re interpreted. The completed work should be viewed not with the eyes, but with the soul. To be able to ‘read’ art objects that have been created on a sensory level, one needs to use their sixth sense. I feel a strong connection with Russian culture here: I guess we, Russians, often communicate this way. 

Last but not the least, I should mention artist Marina Abramovic. I will never stop learning from her. The way she communicates with the viewer and reaches catharsis, the mediums she uses in art, all that captivates my attention. For me, it’s about feelings, soul, experience, and in general the development of the sixth sense.

What advice would you give to emerging female artists entering the art world?

— Take yourself seriously and enjoy the process. If you don’t believe in yourself, then no one will, why should they? In art, you can lie, neither to yourself nor to the viewer; if someone senses a catch, the work won’t be recognized as a true art. At the same time, if you don’t experience pleasure from doing art, you will hardly be able to engage others with your ideas.

— Listen to yourself and constantly work, then everything falls into place.

— Always try new things. And reflect on it.

— Compare yourself with contemporaries and geniuses and draw conclusions: has your work differed; if so, for better or worse etc. 

— Continue to doubt, otherwise you may either remain ignorant or stop your search too early.

Interview with Elena Fuks (Lentov)

What artwork/series of works do you find pivotal for your career? 

I wouldn’t call it pivotal, however, my decision to enter the sphere of art was related to this particular piece. It was the first artwork I sold: a watercolor on an A5 sheet of paper portraying a little girl in the style of Yoshitomo Nara. One day, I was invited to participate in the big student fair of contemporary art at the British Higher School of Art and Design. Among the participants, I was the only non-student; full of hesitation, I was in the process of choosing my future career at the time. Nevertheless, I had all of my artworks sold by the end of the fair.

How has being a woman affected your career?

I find it really difficult to answer this question without having an experience of being a male artist. I can’t say for sure, but female art seems more emotional and sincere to me. 

What makes a great artist?

A great mind and an unquenchable inspiration.

Which other great women artists inspire you and why?

To be honest, I don’t have idols and normally I don’t pay attention to the gender of the artist either. I’m rather inspired by the art piece itself and the emotions it conveys. For me, the pure source of inspiration is hidden in daily life, in the stories and personalities of ordinary people… So you can be the first to transfer these feelings into the realm of art. 

What advice would you give to emerging female artists?

Be yourself, don’t dread the ‘journey’ with all its ups and downs, and always remember about your goals.

Interview with Kristina Okan 

What artwork/series of works do you find pivotal for your career? 

I would say it is my Allusions graphic series. What I did in the period of 2017—2018 defined my entire artistic practice so far. I feel like I have found my voice. Besides, I have realized that the process itself is just as important as the outcome in art. 

How has being a woman affected your career?

Luckily, my gender has never affected my career in neither way. I believe there should always be enough space for both male and female artists on the art scene.

What makes a great artist?

Honesty with yourself. Sensitive interaction with the world. Regular doubting and questioning what you do.

Which other great women artists inspire you and why?

Alicja Kwade is an absolutely mind-blowing artist for me. The way she works with materials such as stone and wood is great and simple and smart and impressive at the same time, it looks like pure magic! Giovanna Garzoni has become my recent discovery: her works are very inspiring because of their mesmerizing quality and a very sensitive admiration of nature they transmit. I also think here of Yayoi Kusama, her parallel universe where you just lose a sense of reality.

What advice would you give to emerging female artists?

Be in contact with your inner voice, never let it down. Always be the best version of yourself. 

Interview with artist Maria Volokhova

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Photo: Natascha Wilms, Maria Volokhova
Text: Irina Rusinovich

Interview with artist Maria Volokhova

Where do you come from, where and when were you born?

I was born in 1980 in Kyiv / Ukraine.

Please tell us your artistic vita in a few sentences.

In Kyiv, I started my artistic education at the age of 6 and later attended the Shevchenko State Art High School. From 1997 to 2004 at the HKD Burg Giebichenstein, Halle/Saale painting/graphics graduated with a diploma.

Study visits in:
2000/02 Accademia die Belle Arti Bologna / Italy,
2003 – Ohio University, Athens/Ohio, USA
2005-2007 – Postgraduate studies at HKD „Burg Giebichenstein“, Department of Graphic Arts
2006 – 2009 Visiting student, Research Studies Ceramics, University Tokyo University of the Arts, Japan.

In 2009 the studio “ Volokhova Porcelain“ was founded in Berlin. In addition to working in the Berlin studio, I have interned in various porcelain manufactories in Germany and implemented my works in collaboration with the manufactories. My projects are exhibited worldwide at   M.V museums , exhibitions, fairs, and biennials (Faenza, Gyeonggi, Bornholm, Jakarta) and received several awards (NASPA Award, Keramikpreis Diesen, BKV Award, Ready Set Award).

How would you describe your creative process?

The ideas for the projects usually arise intuitively. In the work I delve into the thought to another level, so to speak, to another „planet“ of the current theme.
The work on the projects has an experimental character. How far can I explore the limits of the material?
My work with porcelain requires long preparation in designing the models. In the course of the process, further developments of the project emerge. Failures are part of everyday life and often lead to unexpected and exciting solutions.

What was the key influence that led to the development of your process and style?

My study at the Accademia di Belle Arti, Bologna in 2000/2001. There I came across the Museum of Anatomy with historical exhibits. Since then I have been busy interpreting and expanding projects about the inner worlds of the human being.

The desire to aesthetically realize this somewhat unpleasant subject led me to work with porcelain.

Do you have a life philosophy? Does your creative practice fit in with this philosophy?

Life itself, enjoyment of life, experimenting and constant development.
Also in my artistic practice, I am always researching about man as a being, our connections with the social environment as well as the new possibilities in the implementation.
My credo is: to remain free in my thoughts and ideas and to keep the possibility to pursue my goals.

Have you ever had a moment when you questioned your career entirely?

Moments of doubts come across an artist mind  again and again. These moments eventually lead to inner strengthening. At some point, I understood that my activity as an artist is my true vocation, and I cannot imagine my life without my research work in the workshop.

What is your favorite museum or art gallery and why?

me Collectors Room, Berlin

A contemporary art chamber with exciting artifacts. There I always find historical overlaps with my artistic research and new inspirations. Exciting temporary exhibitions.

What’s next for you?

At the moment I am working on the development of the project in connection with the current war situation in Ukraine that will be shown in the context of the Porcelain Biennale in Meissen in the summer.

I was very moved emotionally by the Maidan Revolution in 2014. At that time I realized what a strong meaning the country of Ukraine has for me, although I have been living abroad since 1995. The current attack on Ukraine shook the whole world.

For me Ukraine is a country with people who have warmth in them, always going about their daily lives with smiles and humor. The hearts of these people are destroyed, they mourn for their loved ones, for their destroyed cities, and continue to fight for their existence as a people and their independence.

Interview with artist Vera Kochubey

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Text
I r i n a  R u s i n o v i c h

Interview with artist Vera Kochubey

Where do you come from, where and when were you born?

I was born in 1986 in Moscow, USSR. It’s the year of Chernobyl and 5 years before the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Please tell us your artistic vita in a few sentences.

I was born an artist and already at 2 years old I got first lessons of painting from my grandfather who was an amazing artist himself. I spent all my childhood around him in his home atelier in Moscow. I went to art school in Moscow but dropped out and came to Berlin in 2011 to establish myself as an Artist. Since then I have more then 200 collectors under my belt worldwide as well as dozens of international art shows.

How would you define Contemporary Art in 140 characters or less?

Contemporary art is badass, provocative, bold and imaginative, I like that there is no borders at all. So it’s fair to say, Contemporary Art is something close to Chaos Magic.

Was there a pivotal moment when you decided to follow your passion?

I had artistic soul from the very beginning, but I felt shame for this and was taught that you need to “sacrifice your life for higher proposes of common wealth of communism” – from my grandparents. In Soviet Union there was no such a profession as an “artist” so it was never taken seriously. In 2014 in berlin I met a man who was a successful writer coming from working class family and meeting him put a sparkle in me to peruse my artist career seriously . Then he took me to Berghain and my wild spirit was unleashed.

How can you describe your art practice ?

I think my art is an expression of my multiple personalities. One wants to escape all the struggle into the happy colorful bubble, one wants to shout out from every corner the painful universal truth, the other one is empersonating an ambiguous androgynous figure that is trying to figure out this life and is questioning his body/spirit existence.

Has social media had a positive impact on your work?

I started to take Instagram seriously in 2015 and I build my audience and followers since then. My main business platform is there too, so I believe that social media plays a big role these days for emerging artists.

Do you find that Berlin’s art scene inspires or influences your art?

I feel I am very independent from Berlin Art scene to the point where I could call myself the most famous Berlin art scene outsider.

What’s next for you?

A show in Berlin Urban Nation Museum, solo show at HAZE gallery, art residency at BIKINI BERLIN and autobiographical book on the way + baby steps into NFT art market.

What is it like to be a woman in art today? Q&A with an artist, a curator, and an art dealer: Russian perspective

By /ART/, /INTERVIEW, /NEWS/

Text: Julia Kryshevich
All photos provided by the Q&A participants 

What is it like to be a woman in art today? Q&A with an artist, a curator, and an art dealer: Russian perspective

To reflect on this pertinent issue, I invited three young (given that young age is a rather vast thing), promising (in my humble but confident opinion) women from the Russian contemporary art world to share their views. Meet Anastasia Omelchenko, an art dealer and founder of the Moscow-based Omelchenko Gallery, Lizaveta Matveeva, a St. Petersburg curator active both on the local and international scene, and Alexandra Weld Queen, an artist who, yes, welds to shape her creative vision.

Photo: Inna Rabotyagina

A n a s t a s i a   O m e l c h e n k o

(b. 1991, lives and works in Moscow) 

Cofounder and director of Omelchenko Gallery* (Moscow), artist

Patience, obstinacy, and effort define a woman working in art today

It’s no secret that the Russian art scene runs on women’s endeavors. Look at Olga Sviblova, the Multimedia Art Museum director, Aidan Salakhova, one of the most famous female Russian artists plus a founder of the prominent Aidan Gallery1, Teresa Iarocci Mavica, cofounder of the V-A-C Foundation Moscow2, Margarita Pushkina, founder and director of Cosmoscow International Art Fair3, the list goes on and on. 

Photo: Inna Rabotyagina

I would say it’s patience, obstinacy, and effort that define a woman working in art today. At the same time, she might be easy, elegant, and empathetic. Through combining leadership and sensitivity, women hold prestigious positions in the art world like art historians, art critics, museum directors, and gallery owners. The same goes for me: I have to balance between my art dealer, curator, and artist roles, which often go in different directions. 

There have always been hard-working women in art. Over the centuries, women have been painting and they have been watched! However, their achievements in the artistic field weren’t really recognized before. Fortunately, today it’s different: female artists and arts administrators have been given a voice and an opportunity to share their visions on society and culture. In art (and thanks to it) we can prove ourselves comprehensively both as creators and managers and show all our talent. 

L i z a v e t a    M a t v e e v a 

(b. 1991, lives and works in St. Petersburg) 

Independent curator* and project manager 

‘Curare’ means ‘to take care’. However, care doesn’t have a gender

That’s an interesting topic to think about from the Russian perspective. From my experience, I would say that local art scene seems to be gender neutral, meaning you can see women and men on all levels of administration: you can see female, male or queer artists and curators, etc. However, in your daily working routine, you face all kinds of stereotypes; some of them you don’t pay attention to, some might be traumatic, some you don’t even identify as stereotypes or an encroachment on personal space.

I don’t think there is any fundamental difference between being a female or male curator. At least I don’t feel or see this difference, as I truly believe it’s important, first of all, to remain a human being in any sphere. Attempts to find those differences bring us back to stereotyping. Of course, we’re different, as every human being is. But also we’re quite similar in many senses.

If we think of the etymology of the word ‘curator’, it comes from the Latin ‘curare’, which means ‘to take care’. I can imagine that in patriarchal thinking taking care is primarily considered as a female gesture. However, care doesn’t have a gender. Fathers can be as caring as mothers.

A l e x a n d r a   W e l d   Q u e e n 

(b. 1985, lives and works in Moscow) 

Artist, sculptor, and performer* 

Today it’s only fighting oneself that matters

What is it like to be a woman in art for me? It means doing anything I want without restraint. In my practice, I work with metal and weld a lot, which traditionally is seen as a ‘man’s job’, but it never really bothered me. Because I don’t really care what everyone will think, I just do what I like and bring my ideas to life. 

In my opinion, today there is no point in fighting for one’s place in art, proving or arguing something. I’m grateful to all the progress feminists have made by now. However, I’m sure that today it’s only fighting oneself that matters. I find it important that I can do whatever I want in a world where everything is possible. That’s why I rather focus on personal comfort, freedom, energy, and liberation from internal constraints that disturb living happily. I seek to reveal answers to all those questions through my artworks, sculptures, and performances. 

* A certified specialist in welding technology, Alexandra Weld Queen both designs and makes her objects by hand. In Moscow, where the artist currently resides she’s known for her impressive public art projects created for city parks and gardens. Weld Queen is also a keen performer. Since 2019, she and her team have taken part in Burning Man. Discover works by Alexandra Weld Queen: weldqueen.com/

Interview with photographer Shamil Khairtdinov

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Text:
I r i n a  R u s i n o v i c h

Interview with photographer Shamil Khairtdinov

Shamil Khairtdinov was born in Podolsk, Russia, but now lives and works in Moscow. He has been involved in photography since 2014, however, he never studied it. Qualified as a specialist in the oil and gas industry, Shamil graduated from the faculties ‘Creative Video’ and ‘Directing’ at the Wordshop Academy of Communications in 2015. 

The blooming talent of the photographer was soon recognized: his accomplishments were awarded by many professional institutions such as Hamdan International Photography Award (Dubai) where Shamil reached the final in 2016 and Trierenberg Super Circuit contest for photographic art (Austria). Shamil Khairtdinov also participated in various exhibitions for young artists and photographers, including those held in the museums for modern art in Moscow and Austria. He had several personal exhibitions: e.g. at Winzavod Center for Contemporary Art (Moscow). 

I wanted to become better acquainted with Shamil, so I asked him some questions about his approach and artistic path.  

How would you describe your style and your approach to photography? 

I always follow the feelings: the instincts are in the first place for me. You know, sometimes thinking gets in the way. While shooting, I try not to think at all, just taking pictures of the interesting things that wander into my sight. At that moment, all prejudices are turned off, they simply die. Following the feeling, following the instinct: you open up to the outside world, to what is in front of you at that very moment, and start noticing beautiful things. 

In fact, it’s similar to the behavior of a cat. I observed the behavior of my cat for a long time and realized that if something catches her attention, she goes there immediately, without hesitation. So we can compare it to the state of instinct in photography: you move where your eyes lead you without any doubt. Next is the selection of photos. This process resembles a counselling session. It’s important to analyze all images, while making choices, asking some questions like: ‘Why did I choose this stone or this pavement or this person? What attracted me to this? Why am I interested in this at all? Does it maybe have something to do with my past?’. 

As for people, I try to connect with them. The main thing is to read the person’s mind and state in the process of photo shooting. 

Did you always know you wanted to be a photographer? 

No, it happened by accident. Before filming, I worked in advertising. I ran my own little commercial agency. One day I decided to study strategy at the Wordshop Academy of Communications, so I entered the faculty of Creative video and later the faculty of Directing. At the faculties, there were some photography tasks. It all started there. I was just wrapped up. I began taking photos of virtually everything: I took around 1,500 pictures every day and 2 months later, I won a photo competition at the Moscow Museum of Modern Art. On March 6, 2014, I quit advertising and decided to dive completely into photo and video shooting. It was like falling in love with a woman at first sight. True unconditional love… That’s how it was here: I knew for sure that I wanted it. In addition to photography, I also work as a cameraman and director.

The topic for the current Purplehaze print issue is WOMEN. What do you think of when hearing this word?

Women are the love. In fact, Al Pacino’s monologue from the film The Scent of a Woman immediately came to my mind! I completely agree with it! ☺

Do you have a different approach to women in your work? 

The main thing is to love. That’s my only approach! ☺

Please tell us about your creative process. Do you tend to follow the same process in each project? 

No, I’m constantly exploring new approaches and applying some of them in my work. However, the approach of instincts that I described at the beginning, I always use it because it allows me to see and feel what’s happening in front of the eyes from a new perspective.

What are the fundamental messages you want to get across with your work? 

Talking about reportage and street photography, I seek to transmit what I feel for the place where I am. I try to show everything with no assessment.

But as for the project series or movies that are in the process of being created, then it’s more interesting for me to show the strength of a person’s spirit, demonstrate what a person is capable of. I love to highlight the stories of the people, who even while finding themselves in the most terrible conditions, retain a piece of soul. Whatever happens, some hope should always stay there. In my opinion, art should encourage people to create and inspire others after all.

What’s the latest project you are working on? 

I’m currently working on a short film, the story of which is based on real events from the distant 2000s. The script and all other things are ready for the project. The budget just leaves to be found! 

MaHalla. Expanding Culture beyond the Ego

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MaHalla @mahallaberlin

Ed.in Chief : Irina Rusinovich @irinarusinovich.art
Photographer: Sasha Grigg @sasha_grigg
Make Up : Elena Schmerberg @caras_masqueradas
Stylists : Elisa Lindenberg, Thoas Lindner @elisa_lindenberg @thoaslindner
Curator & Text: Dr. Almut Hüfler @almutcorneliahuefler
Fashion designers: @fadeoutlabel @lenavoutta @theothergods

MaHalla. Expanding Culture beyond the Ego

The Mother Hall

MaHalla is a private socio-cultural initiative. Initiated by renowned filmmaker Ralf Schmerberg, it is supported by a growing community of artists, investors, and creative enthusiasts. Thus, years of engagement and social activism were brought together under the roof of the industrial building. 

Its overall aim is to inspire social consciousness. ‘The world is full of pain’, is what visitors learn from the emblazoned writing. The project’s name MaHalla can be translated as ‘mother-hall’. It conjures up associations with comfort, warmth of the arms, softness, and care. A ‘mahalla’ in Arabic is a centre for the whole neighbourhood, a place to meet, to talk and do business. In contrast to the initial roughness of the building and its innate masculinity, the vision is to create a program that aims at providing relief and nourishment on different levels: inspiration, practice, knowledge, discourse, celebration, and community.

Right from the beginning, fashion designer, stylist, and musician Elisa Lindenberg decided to take care of the food side and make lunch for the team. ‘The kitchen is the beating heart of the day in MaHalla’, she says. Once a day, everyone is called from where they work to come and sit together at a long table and enjoy a wholesome meal cooked with love. Elisa is joined by a team of artists who are happy to take turns in bringing their creativity into the kitchen.

Since the summer of 2021, the team and the ever-increasing group of volunteers have been organising various events. For the winter season, they created LUX NOCTURNA — Salon zur Unzeit to provide the community with warmth and shelter during times of darkness. For the first time since its construction, the black hall was transformed into an exhibition space for contemporary painting, photography and installations. With a background in literature, art history and years of personal development under her belt, curator Almut Hüfler has developed a curatorial concept for MaHalla that allows art to become a means of participation and consciousness development. For the show, the curator selected colourful works of large formats of renowned Berlin artists to provide a better framework for a series of three months of interactive experiences. Ranging from innovative music, participatory art events, breathing exercises to Michelin-starred gourmet feasts, these events invite the public to recharge their batteries. 

Human Electricity

In 2019, Ralf Schmerberg fell in love with the building while looking for a new studio space — and it was love at first sight. Serving as a turbine showroom, the factory was part of the former Electropolis area (Berlin, Oberschöneweide), which stood out in all its industrial grandeur and beauty. It was not a usual factory, however, but a functional one with some decorative elements. This place is believed to have inspired Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (1927). Entering through a tiny door, anybody with a sense of creativity points out the capacity of its internal space.

Built in 1897, only a few years after the Eiffel Tower, the steel construction comes as the very embodiment of a groundbreaking innovation. A good hundred years later, with mankind in the midst of another technical revolution, MaHalla incorporates aspects of energy generation and humanity and moves into the digital age. The concept is to link creativity with energy, trigger inspiration in others, and establish a solid basis for innovation and change.

Economical Innovation and Spirituality

The economic side of MaHalla rests on the basis of a private initiative of its founder and a steadily growing circle of well-off visionaries and entrepreneurs. Eventually, there will also be public funding. However, at the beginning, the concept of MaHalla asks for a committed community of shareholders instead of one main investor or public financial support. The idea of MaHalla is democratic and very idealistic. Together with a team of creatives, free spirits, and volunteers, the investors and shareholders make the dream possible. 

MaHalla is unique in the sense that it is an oasis, a small, idealistic world in its own respect. It explicitly rests on an open spiritual foundation in the widest sense, aiming at raising consciousness on all possible levels. The team is developing an ambitious program balancing out contemporary art, cutting-edge music, spiritual experience, humane science, and strategies towards a more partial society. It is a creative experiment that aims at becoming a myth radiating far beyond Berlin, while at the same time generating sound economic growth for everyone who has invested in its foundation.

Anyone can find a way to contribute. MaHalla’s roof is literally very wide: ranging from a volunteer program that provides exciting opportunities to learn, meet interesting people, and obtain a one-year free membership, to freelancing/working for the team, renting studio spaces, and finally acquiring the status of a ‘whale’ or an ‘elephant’, i.e. becoming a larger shareholder of the MaHalla GmbH & Co KG. 

Working on the Myth and Transforming the Crisis

Many artists and partners discover MaHalla, while looking for a special location to present or document their projects. The process of developing MaHalla is conceived as an organic growth model. The team plants the seed and takes good care of its cultivation. They create a particular ‘MaHalla-vibe’ and are confident to continuously attract and build the right audience for a wide range of different formats. Many artists feel drawn towards MaHalla by its creative, unconventional and welcoming atmosphere. Soon there are going to be studio spaces and a project-based residency programme for artists and external curators.

Speaking about the so-called ideal audience, MaHalla is a ‘mother’ with a big heart and open arms, welcoming a crowd of people as diverse as possible. Anyone who identifies themselves with her humanist core values can come to enjoy the space — and is invited to join and co-create! Ralf Schmerberg said in a team meeting recently: ‘I have just started a campfire for you – it burns with everything you bring’. 

MaHalla was launched during the crisis: thanks to private supporters, it survived and flourished despite still looking like a building site in the middle of the pandemic. But even this phase was turned into art: Staub (German for ‘dust’) is a film documenting the cleaning of the big hall in cooperation with Kärcher. The resident band Music Ashram produced a record, through which the team led MaHalla into the next phase of the revival of culture, moving beyond the pandemic.

The MaHalla-vision paints a vibrant cultural space, a place for people to leave their sorrows behind, feel inspired, nourished, and creative. MaHalla is going to have restaurants, bars, exhibition spaces, and a nightclub; thus, it will become a venue for a continuously running diverse and innovative program. There are going to be workshops, festivals, concerts, conferences, film screenings, fabulous dinners, dance, yoga, breathing, meditation, sound experience, and many ways for people to share their skills, art, and knowledge with the world. The building will be renovated and made welcoming and comfortable; it will be surrounded by a landscaped garden with a vertical ‘green wall’ as one of its main attractions inside. Meanwhile, we will continue reading enthusiastic feedback on social media with people talking about ‘this amazing new place’ down in the south-east of Berlin.

Through out the shoot we used the following Labels :
Elisa : Fade out Label , Moga e Mago , Comme des Garconne, Alexander McQueen , Rick Owens , Vintage Head, Jewellery (earring) by ALAMA

Almut: The Other Gods , LALA Berlin , Lena Voutta , Borsalino
Ralf : KENZO , Fade Out Label , Lumen et Umbra , Alexander McQueen and Birkenstock Shoes