In the studio: Benjamin Hirte
The Vienna-based artist talks about Wilhelm Busch and home improvement
I was travelling a lot recently, so my studio practice was rather sporadic. For months, I schlepped with me "Das grosse Wilhelm Busch Hausbuch“, it’s a huge and heavy book from my grandmother.
Wilhelm Busch was a German caricaturist from the second half of the 19th century, doing illustrations with verse captions mostly. They are simple, swift and crafty. It has some sadistic details and endings that reflect the dominant Prussian, militarist culture in Germany at that time. To me this seems a very ambivalent point in German history, a kind of starting point.
I have used comic sequences in some of my work, but also language, verse, letters – very often it deals with matters of connecting, separating and breaking points.
I’m back in my studio for the summer months. In Vienna, people leave town over July and August. Things slow down and one can retreat and concentrate.
I work at home, or rather, live at the studio. I dismissed the idea of having “time off“ from work. I enjoy not having to decide which books belong to the studio and which to the apartment.
The studio is in a large old Viennese apartment in the 3rd district. I renovated it myself. Home improvement at some point started to have an impact on my art. I really got into rubber gaskets and sealing rings, for example. I like the idea that you need something soft and elastic to safely connect and seal harder materials.
Recently I started a series of wallpieces, consisting of digitally shuffled images, text-material and a font I created. Each work is capped by one letter out of a thick black rubber sheet.
While working I mostly listen to news radio. A few days ago there was a nice episode about baboon social structures. Their group decisions are mostly based on swarm intelligence.
For example, if two alpha males have opposite opinions on which route to take, like that one wants to go left and the other one wants to go right because each knows about a fig tree or something. In such a case, the group ends up going somewhere in between, on a compromised and unknown route. This middle way is a result of each individual baboon movement, like a central vector.
September 2015, Curated by_vienna, co-curated with Catherine Chevalier, Galerie Emanuel Layr, Vienna (AT)
December 2015, MMK3 - Museum für moderne Kunst Frankfurt, Jürgen Ponto Stiftung, Frankfurt (DE)
Benjamin Hirte is represented by Galerie Emanuel Layr and Christian Andersen