Max Dax: Wolfgang, how are the preparations for your »Werkschau« coming along? Work show – This is how you have titled your first exhibition, hence your debut.
Wolfgang Voigt: It’s going nicely! Of course, preparations are in full swing. Aside from the question of which works I will show, the venue obviously has to be prepared.
Max Dax: What kind of venue are we talking about here?
Wolfgang Voigt: We’re talking about our Kompakt open-plan office just above the Kompakt store. These days, most employees work in the home office. The space is ideal. It was just the right decision: We are going to present the »Werkschau« where it belongs. The open-plan office turned into a white cube with various wall elements protruding into the room, functioning as displays for works. The whole thing reminds you somewhat of a museum with lots of corridors and semi-open rooms, allowing me to install my works in a decent environment for visitors to walk around in. This allows me to present a broad variety of my artistic works since many cabinets are virtually predestined to display a series of works each. Yet this does not rule out mixing them musically.
Max Dax: The extensive, concise presentation of one or a couple series of works was not up for discussion?
Wolfgang Voigt: I’ve always wanted to show a broad spectrum of my work and thus not reduce or minimalize to present a monothematic show. And, of course, JUBG and I will assess the presentation as proposed by me and certainly take down or add a couple of works to it.
Max Dax: Did you feel distressed? Or how did it feel to suddenly physically stand in front of your own current life’s work and make a selection?
Wolfgang Voigt: This work exhibition was preceded by years of introspection, which gave the works a good ‘incubation time’. They matured quietly. I want to show contradictions, different materialities, and the reciprocal connection of the works with music. Within musical terminology, one would say that I have created a compilation that does justice to my complex artistic output. A parallel could be drawn here again with music, as I have published various types of music under different monikers.
Max Dax: We have already extensively talked about the obvious parallels between your method of digital painting and the production of electronic music in the catalog accompanying the exhibition »Hyper – A Journey Into Art And Music« at Deichtorhallen Hamburg – your first-ever participation in a major group exhibition in 2019.
Wolfgang Voigt: Back then I had also filled the space with music when I first inspected it and tried out different installations of the works. The record »Cupid & Psyche 85« by Scritti Politti was playing non-stop. In some instances, I only installed the works next to each other because while processing what was being heard I felt that they were responding to the same music.
Max Dax: As if the works were animated – as if they had a soul?
Wolfgang Voigt: Once a work is on display on a white wall, it develops its very own energy. Not only did I respect this independent existence. I even followed these energy lines. It is interesting to see how an exhibition almost begins to install itself if one gives space to intuition aside from the concept. This is how a very complex exhibition with a broad variety of subjects, dimensions, and materiality, with works that were created over a long period, could spread out consequently over the rooms and walls of the space.
Max Dax: You are describing an intuitive aspect. What about the conceptual aspect? Within both your music and your visual art you work your way from one moniker to the other, from series to series, and through oftentimes hermetic concepts.
Wolfgang Voigt: That’s right. Those are thinking spaces, in which I then move within. Within the exhibition, the individual work series contextualize each other. In part, bridges to music are indicated. the total sum amounts to a pretty colorful matter. I can say this because over all those years I was able to develop my own, unbiased view of my works. The hysteria is gone, just like the ecstasy of the recently completed work.
Max Dax: Why did you wait so many years with this first work show? Contrarily, the greater part of your Œuvre has been freely accessible for years on your website.
Wolfgang Voigt: Well. You are the one who did not only invite me to do a museum exhibition but also and even more importantly approached me for intellectual discourse. I knew then that the context was emphasized. That’s why in 2019 I confirmed the first museum presentation with works we had selected together. Frankly, I am not interested in participation in mere group exhibitions. I am also not intrigued by the art market per se. I have been discursively schooled by Spex magazine and by Diedrich Diederichsen. And as long as this discourse is assured, there is no reason for me to not participate. When Jens-Uwe Beyer invited me to exhibit at JUBG, I did not hesitate one bit before confirming. To me, Jens-Uwe embodies a new, fearless and empathetic type of gallerist. We as well lead a constructive discourse. You should not forget after all that for the past decades I have also been a very busy musician and manager of the label KOMPAKT. I never suffered from inner pressure or financial pressure. I wasn’t even driven by my ego. I don’t have to prove anything to myself or the world.
Max Dax: So you are in some way making art for the sake of art – with stoic patience?
Wolfgang Voigt: Exactly.
Max Dax: Are you as patient when it comes to music?! Isn’t it exactly the opposite in this case? You have released hundreds of vinyls under diverse pseudonyms.
Wolfgang Voigt: I’m an independent man, thoroughly. When it comes to music, KOMPAKT gave me a structure that allowed me to operate entirely free and autonomous from the general market opinion and its wishes. A similar perspective offered itself to me with »Hyper« and now in the course of the »Werkschau« at JUBG. That’s the right way.
Max Dax: That’s the long walk (ed. »Der Lange Marsch«).
Wolfgang Voigt: I never wanted to corrupt my art. I don’t play along in the game of who, where, and what is allowed to be considered art. I also do not share the popular opinion of those saying you are either a musician or a visual artist – but not both at once. For me, it is precisely on the interface of art and music where the most intriguing works evolve. And here the works need to be quiet. And patient, just like me.
Max Dax: Which specific story are you telling in your »Werkschau«?
Wolfgang Voigt: Despite all the contradictions and complexity, my works are ultimately like the trees in an extensive forest. The visitors of my »Werkschau« will be confronted with this supposed polyphony and thereby recognize that in the end, they are not individual trees, but a forest. And this forest tells my story – the story of one who, after four decades of artistic practice has found himself. By displaying the individual series at once and for the first time in an exhibition, a simultaneity is created that is capable of resolving these contradictions.
Max Dax: At the same time, you make use of the opening night to introduce the tenth studio album of GAS, »Der Lange Marsch« (ed. »The Long Walk«) to the public.
Wolfgang Voigt: Yes. The release of the album is deliberately intended to be part of the exhibition, to create the greatest possible fusion and interaction within my artistic Œuvre. In the course of this, the music is currently becoming generally quieter and the works become louder.
Max Dax: An integral aspect of your artistic expression is the loop. You work with the loop and at the same time question it in a variety of your many projects. But even in your digital paintings, which are often based on photography, and your digitally created collages, you broach the issue of repetition.
Wolfgang Voigt: To me, the Loop is a way of seeing the world, or rather questioning it. When I repeat a singular sign and juxtapose it, it changes its meaning. A kind of trance is created, a different view of the world. And this is indeed a principle that informs both my music and my paintings. However, there is always also the radical break with the concept – the glitch.
Max Dax: You mean a sound error or a graphical bug that is consciously not being corrected and thereby introduces an unpredictable, erratic moment to the music or a painting?
Wolfgang Voigt: There is always the moment where I break with the concept when the track or the painting develops its own existence. It is this very break with what was planned that creates the truth. The concept always functions only as the key to something unknown, which then materializes through the predetermined breaking point of the glitch. The commitment of the conceptual is crossed with the simultaneity of what you do not understand about it. Just like a secret language that you can feel and comprehend intuitively.
Max Dax: How does this exhibition, a summary of an entire artistic life, go together with the fact that »Der Lange Marsch« musically puts the focus specifically on one singular work?
Wolfgang Voigt: Your question already includes my answer. For one thing, the supposedly self-contradictory spectrum of artistic works of a whole lifetime is being presented, with each particle then referencing musical releases and tracks that took place simultaneously in the past. On the other hand, the limitation to the most recent record of my monolithic GAS-cycle is a proposal to refer to the overall context with just one specific work of music. I make use of the popular release of the album to incorporate it as part of the exhibition. Then again I also present a series of »Waldloop« images in the exhibition, which bridge directly to GAS.
Max Dax: The influence of music on the works is being made partially audible by you – and thereby decipherable.
Wolfgang Voigt: Albert Oehlen for example blasts free jazz or Scooter in his studio or listens to gabber music by me. And most certainly does music influence art. With every one of my artworks I can remember in which mental, philosophical, musical context it was created. After holding out in the basement for years and years, I can bring those works back to light and recharge them musically. And this gives me the strength to feel relaxed and confident amid this exhibition.
“Path. Destination. Loop. – Forest Loop.”
Interview mit Max Dax, Köln, 2021
Letzte Änderung: 01.12.2021 | Erstellt am: 01.12.2021
Eröffnung der Ausstellung:
3. Dezember 2021 / 16 Uhr
Werderstrasse 15 -19
Dauer der Ausstellung:
3. Dezember 2021 – 15. Januar 2022
Gespräch mit Max Dax, Wolfgang Voigt und Jens-Uwe Beyer am 15. Januar 2022
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