The graduated artist Benedikt Braun lives in Weimar and works independently as a UFK (Ultra Free Artist). In a performance in 2010, he got “sausaged” on a public square in Weimar. In the gallery representing him (Galerie Eigenheim Berlin) he attrected the attention in March 2017 when he let the vernissage viositors fire clay pigeons from a throwing machine to a few meters further set up, dark painted plate during the exhibition “Flügel haben kurze Beine”. We had him in April 2017 in the interview.
Two sentences about your Vita.
I was born on 10.02.1979. Supposedly I was slightly blue, because the umbilical cord was a bit unfavorable around my still small neck. After these first disentangles were overcome I, welcomed by a physician, greeted the world with a golden urine ray. I see this trickling of the world as my first performative act. Had I been born a few centuries later, I would have received the world with a friendlier action than pecking at it. That means that I am an optimist. I think in the end everything will be fine, even if the road is still rocky and possibly long. Anyway. 38 years after my birth I am now ULTRA FREE ARTIST. Juhu! And put me with the world as it is or could be or never will be apart.
What are you most worried about at the moment? what’s on your mind?
For a long time I have been concerned with the topic of utopias and their non-realizability. Or why me or we make the same mistakes again and again. Or why we still do not live in a kind of paradise. I used to think that I should be much more radical. This self-criticism still lives in my art. In everyday life, however, I have become much more relaxed. My own mistakes as well as mistakes of others I can forgive more easily. I would almost speak of fault sympathy. So my regret over the non-utopian state of the world has become a bad joke over the years. But I can still laugh about him. Especially since some mistakes probably have to be made much more often in order to learn from them. I have become more patient.
How did you come to art? Why art?
I’ve always tried to keep as many options open as possible. As a result of this strategy, I have become an artist. On top of that, making art quite happy makes me. In an earlier interview, I once said that art is the best way to masturbate. 😉 In any case, I enjoy the freedom that you have as an artist. Especially since art or art is also always an ideal excuse to think borderline attitudes and perform questionable actions. For example, I chained myself and chained half naked on the cathedral square in Erfurt of grandmas with Lyoner sausage slices. When the question, “What’s the point?” Came up and the answer “I do art.” Was not enough, the questioning grandma returned, after which I explained that the Lyon sausage slices were a reference to the Immaculate Conception of the saints Mother Mary, without another word and went. That was nice. Before I realized performances in front of an audience, however, I filmed myself for years and watched myself in the monitor. I was an audience and actor at the same time. This actor-observer loop used the following video works, which were mostly short loops. These loops, loops, repetitions and circular motions and the attempt to break them, can be found in many of my works to this day. Whether they refer to the hamster wheel of everyday work or social upheavals and revolutions or the cycle of life …
What makes you happy right now? What are you currently afraid?
I’m not really scared. There are sometimes irritating developments on various private and social levels. But then I take that note rather and fall into the role of a jumping observer. Happy makes me that I can still take this role and still get the change of perspective. I get really high with happiness when I get into a frenzy of creativity. Then I usually run through my apartment with a red head and try to somehow conserve the thoughts and ideas that are flipping over. As a result, then sketches and word fragments remain. From these glowing doodles of ideas find then always too few approaches the way into the realization. But no matter. Only the ideas, only the ideas are really very satisfying. Hallelujah. That’s almost the most important reason for me to do art.
What is your art? And can you share the intention of your art with us?
It is often flat at first glance. On the second maybe also. But then with the right viewers, she finds her way into the brain and digs deep into it. I enjoy the thought game. Playing with your own thoughts as well as playing with the thoughts of the art audience. Most of my work is inspired by humor. And often they point, in my opinion, unfavorable circumstances. Without, however, to come up with the raised index finger. I tend to prefer the middle finger. During my studies, I spent a long time searching for a kind of theoretical concept or philosophical foundation, which I find suitable for my art. And finally, after a very long, wet-happy Saturday night I have on Sunday, November 11, 2007 at 09.15 clock on 3sat the broadcast: “Sternstunde philosophy: Klaus Ferentschik: ?? ‘Pataphysics ?? Science of Imaginary Solutions – A Parallel Universe of Imagination and Individual Deviation “. Wonderful! After that, I knew: I’m a god of the pata. ‘Pataphysician and ULTRA FREE ARTIST. It suffices to read through the Wikipedia entry on ‘Pataphysics’ in order to understand that from such a perspective the question of intention no longer arises or the potential answers are beyond the scope of this interview.
How do you protect yourself from too much inspiration in this day and age?
I live in Weimar most of the time. It is very cozy, safe, comfortable and relaxed. Here I am protected from too much inspiration! However, one can not escape certain sources of inspiration here as well. After my studies I was able to realize the performance “With 100 kilos into the social network” in cooperation with the local employment office. The architecture of the job center, the staff and the other customers of this facility were an Eldorado of inspiration.
How do you assess the current development of the art market?
Ha. Unfortunately, the market underestimates the value of my art enormously. But in general, I also look at the topic from at least two points of view. Basically, it is deplorable that there is or must be a market for art. Any payment, regardless of price, is basically a devaluation and degradation of the arts. Art is more in the public purse and less in private (private) collections. Artists should not depend on the sale of their work. Since I’m already more of a friend of instant annuity, lottery win, unconditional basic income, Hartz IV, fat heir, etc. Even more problematic is the situation on the so-called Second Art Market or secondary art market. As a secondary market is called in finance, a market on which market participants already acquire or resell existing financial instruments as a trading object. Thus, here, although prices are rising, art is even more devalued and becomes a mere financial instrument. Wait a minute – if I’m honest, I think it would be very nice if millions would change hands the next time one of my works is auctioned off.
Two sentences about your current project.
I have just realized an exhibition in Galerie Eigenheim Berlin together with Frederik Foert and the team of the gallery. (17.03.2017 – 22.04.2017 / LEAVES HAVE SHORT LEGS – Benedikt Braun and Frederik Foert in dialogue -) And yes, I am very satisfied with the result. We leaked a ball or two for that. Go there!
What are your (next) goals?
The goal is not easy. Simple answer: Continue! Next, I want to improve my working and production conditions. But that’s more internal. In terms of content, I will probably continue to work on my topics and look at the world. Although I’m very curious about what’s to come. Especially when it comes to capitalism criticism. The current state is here after several years of process: money dust in the vacuum cleaner bag. Maybe the next ruins will emerge from this dust. Who knows.
If you had not become an artist, what would have become of you instead?
Architect, homeless or accountant.
How much is planned in your work beforehand – how much is intuitive?
Although I address some, heavier topics with my work, I am not one of the artists who have to produce out of a compulsion. Much more I see the art as a luxury, as a treat. And take all the liberties I want here. As already described above, the idea and the idea are in the foreground with me and these ideas will come over me. I can not plan much there. Also in the implementation, I am then open to new or different ways.
What is your work about?
Thematically, I deal with various topics: utopia, revolution, religion, self-criticism, fears, capitalism, sex, consumption, art, truth and always the opposite of it.
Do your inspirations always come from your own experiences?
Well. Many of the topics have to do directly with self-made experiences. But of course, conversation and media consumption are also a source of inspiration. Even stupid everyday situations, such as queuing in the supermarket and watching people wait, can lead to unexpected flashes of inspiration.
What role does humor play in your work?
Humor is very important. Not only in my work. My view of the world is strongly influenced by humor. I can also laugh about myself. Especially when it hurts. If I strike my leg in the same place and on the same steel drawer of my desk for the next two days, then I have to laugh out loud a second time at the latest.
Do you think that art has a social responsibility? And what do you think she can do?
In principle, art does not have to fulfill any task for me and, in that sense, has no responsibility towards society. Especially from the perspective of the Ultra Free artist. The idea of a performance that no one sees, that is not documented and that is never told or reported is still very appealing to me. Of course, if it brings with it positive societal changes I would not mind. But it is not a must. Of course, if such a performance would do so, the effect would be enormous. It is, I think, a tremendous effect on works of art that are published, if viewers can remember the works for years afterwards.
What do you think about political art?
As described above, I find nothing wrong with political art. It only raises the question of the effect. Other actions may be more effective.
Which artists interested you?
I’m less interested in the people than in the work. Of course, the works that I wish I made myself are the artists that impress me the most. At least for the moment. And then I get angry for a while. But the respect and recognition for the work outweighs.
Is there art in the family with you?
Yes. My mother is a theater therapist, my father is an architect, and my little sister is also studying art.
Do you have a gallery owner? How did you get to know him?
Yes, my main gallery is the gallery home. Here I am a house artist. I already met the two gallery owners Bianka Voigt and Konstantin Bayer during their studies. Kisses. In other cooperations with galleries and gallery owners they were mostly aware of my work and then contacted me. Here too kisses and a thank you.
Do you have a creed – if so, what is it?
No I did not. I am ‘Pataphysician.
With all your work and topics that you serve – which is the most important thing?
Capitalism criticism I would already see in the upper seats. Especially since a big field opens here: justice, war and peace, pollution, colonization, advertising, manipulation, …
How does the idea become a work of art?
The topics are buzzing around anyway and some works are self-referential. They build on already planned or realized works. But the real idea comes as a surprise. Even if you are busy with topics. At times, new ideas or variations also appear in the realization process. Generally, sketches and keywords help. Next to my bed is always pen and paper.
What should your art do to your audience?
A mix of head shaking and smiling is not bad for the beginning. If my work then gets stuck in the viewer’s brain, it can enrich possible conversations and thinking processes. But I also love it when my works are completely misunderstood or completely reinterpreted. I like it.
Has your art changed over the years – and if so how and why?
Yes, in part. Previously, the choice of materials was more inferior to economic constraints. Today I can choose more conscious and free. Some works are also partially more aggressive and the exhibitions tend to be cleaner. My earlier anarchist approach softens slightly, making it easier for viewers to access my works. Here I am not sure if this is a good development.
How far would you go? Are there any taboos?
As far as I want. There are no taboos.
What was the most unpleasant moment for you?
I’m afraid he’ll come. Fuck.
Which project would you like to realize?
Definitely the next one. If I think for a moment, I would like to see an old idea implemented. An elevator that does not drive to the next floor but turns its cab and guest upside down. Turns 180 °. This work as an experiential and walk-in installation would delight me. Also, video recordings inside the cabin, which of course should not be too big, during the shooting process, I could really really very well liked. Do we only need one more title? Maybe: “Rising Sun” or just “Flip”. Hmm – now it’s time to start thinking again. That’s really good.
Interested in what collectors do with your work?
Of course, I would find it nice if the work does not just disappear in the vault or warehouse. But in some of my installations, I am also fully aware that, in principle, they need their own space. That’s a lot to ask.
What are the attributes of good art from your point of view?
Ideally, art hurts in a nice way.
Is one born as an artist? Or is an art study obligatory?
A certain innate slight detachment from society and a personal view of the world is not wrong. And studying art is really fun. I can not help it either. Anyway, if you follow the debate about the next industrial revolution, soon everyone will be blessed with more free time. Or half will be without a job. This development may then lead to more, so much more, artists. What I think is not bad from the point of view. Whether I like the art then is another matter. But it is not important.
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