PROLOGUE | PERSONAL
Bettina, imagine you would welcome us in your studio or home. Where do we talk together (describe the location, surroundings and atmosphere in the rooms), where do we meet you? We would meet in Berlin Pankow in my studio. The studio is bright and large. Many of my paintings hang on the wall, there are probably many scraps of paper on the floor, wood glue, oil paints, books…photos…spread over the two rooms…all a bit messy. For you guys, I would do some tidying. I would probably put fresh flowers in a vase on the 70’s tile table. Perhaps we are sitting in your favourite place? Yes, it would be in Berlin the sitting area with the old sofa with white throw, facing the wall where I usually work on my paintings. I would offer you tea or coffee. There are still two white Ikea chairs…or I would tell you something about my work in my Oldenburg studio…You would have the choice…
Bettina Hauke in Atelier, photo Sima Koocheki
You were born in 1968 in Duisburg, Germany, and live in Berlin and Oldenburg. What stations and people have particularly shaped you in your life so far? Until 12 I lived in Duisburg, then in the far north…Until I was 6 or 7 years old, in Duisburg, some super creative women took care of me in kindergarten and after-school and elementary school and taught me the fun of crafting and painting. They were great, I still remember them today. At the same time, I spent a lot of time with my grandma Alwine. She was very funny, always ready for fun…I often cut out models from catalogs there with my youngest aunt…then we cut out clothes to go with them and always “dressed” the figures anew by clamping things around them like that (with these extra strips that you cut out along with them) hence probably my penchant for incorporating cut-outs into my work. Everyone talked incredibly much and always at the same time…in Oldenburg then in the north it was completely different…my husband is also my calm pole and usually brings me down. I had an incredibly great art teacher at the Gymnasium, Mrs. Gerwing … Thanks to her! Which writers do you find exciting at the moment and which books can be found on your bookshelf? At the moment I read science fiction novels for relaxation. On my shelf are Cixin Liu, Isaac Asimov, Bernhard Hennen next to Umberto Eco, Franz Kafka, E.A. Poe, Osho, Stephen Hawkings. Also Jean Baudrillard, Felwine Sarr, Frantz Fanon, Edward W. Said, Michele Foucault, Jaques Derrida and Judith Butler.
Bettina Hauke, Portrait, photo Andreas Letzel
Which books have influenced or shaped you? “Rhizome” by Gille Deleuze and Félix Guattari. In Tom Robbins’ “Salome’s Seventh Veil,” the painted stick and shell that set out to save the world from an internationally planned conspiracy made an eerie impression on me. “Pictorial Thought,” Actus et imago by Charles S. Peirce, and also Karl Mannheim’s “Structures of Thought”…all centered around the concept of contagion and the related thought of objects touching one as entities…that’s exciting! Very much like Deleuze and Guattari: “Find the parts of a book you can do something with” “Make rhizomes and not roots! Be not one or many, be multiplicities!” What are you currently reading and where does the book lie at hand? Next to my bed on the shelf are 3 booklets by Isaac Asimov, Water for Mars I’m reading right now… What music do you listen to and when? Similar to reading, I listen to what comes to my fingers/ears and just suits me and what I’m doing. Edward Grieg, Lang Lang, Keith Jarrett, George Winston or Ryuichi Sakamoto, John Mc Laughlin, Nils Petter Molvaer…but also Kate Bush, Peter Gabriel, David Bowie or Muse and Deichkind, Yello…and a lot of meditative…Dalai Lama… If you were to cook something for us, what would it be? Either Mediterranean, with zucchinis and tomatoes and fresh herbs from my garden…or Thai…a delicious Tom Kha Gai perhaps…with or without gai… What is your favourite food? Noodles or Korean kimchi, or even noodles with kimchi… What do you think about breakfast? When my husband is not around, I don’t need breakfast…
Bettina Hauke in Atelier, photo Sima Koocheki
What kind of sport or compensation do you do for your artistic work? I have two very large dogs…so walking or digging around in the garden…that grounds me… Do you have any special passions (hobbies) that you are passionate about, and if so, which ones? I’m writing something there. Whenever time permits. I love to travel and soak up new things. But art is probably my greatest passion. Funny word…what is a hobbie supposed to be? A pastime…I wouldn’t waste my time… What personality trait particularly defines you? Openness. Conscientiousness? Others say: unsteady curious mind…always on the move… Do you have a concern that you would like to share with us? Or an answer to a question (not asked by us) that currently moves you? So many questions…so many answers…besides all the daily dramas, everyone must probably find to himself, find his inner core…then maybe the world would become a little better and fairer?
INTERVIEW | ARTIST + POSITION
We would like to briefly introduce your artistic career. After studying German and political science, art and English in Oldenburg, you studied painting with Prof. Jürgen Waller and Atelier für Zeitmedien with Prof. J.F. Guiton at the Hochschule für Bildende Künste Bremen from 1995 to 2003. In 2002 you passed the diploma exam with Prof. J.F. Guiton and in 2003 the master exam with Prof. J.F. Guiton and David Bade. In addition, you have written two academic theses: A Bachelor’s thesis on the topic of objects in ethnological museums as learning opportunities in migration society and a Master’s thesis on collection items from colonial contexts – (critical) mediation work in museums. Did we miss anything? If so, tell us about other stages in your artistic career.
These are the most important stations. I destroyed all my work twice out of frustration…I then wanted to work scientifically and do my PhD…but it just doesn’t work without art…now I know I made the right decision….
Bettina Hauke, o.T., 2022, oil on canva, 160 x 120cm
How did you get into art? Why art?
Well, what can I say…I come from a working class household…no idea how exactly that happened…as already described, the right people at the right time influenced me…I could always sink deep and was and am completely with me when I have ideas and implement them…. at some point it was clear, this is my path…and it becomes more and more focused the older I get…beautiful…in art I can do what I want, I feel free and at some point there comes such a tingling, a feeling, that is perhaps what you call flow, that is indescribably good….
What is currently making you happy?
That things are progressing artistically…things I imagine are occurring…that something is always happening…my husband, my family and my friends make me happy.
What is currently scaring you?
Basically standstill. The rightward shift of society, the climate, the wars, people who think they are better than others…actually many things. But I am and remain an optimist!
Bettina Hauke, Milkmaid, photo, 1999
Do you believe that art has a social responsibility? And what do you think it can achieve?
It always depends on the context and the perspective. Art can have a lot of effect, but it doesn’t have to…no responsibility is borne by us humans…not by the art…
What characterises your art? What is your work about – what are the central themes?
It is about the fragmentary nature of existence and the connections of all things and people with each other and across time; past, present and future are connected and we are in the midst of it…but can only ever perceive sections of it. My works are attempts to depict something of this in terms of content and form. Thereby people and things are always in the center, surrounded by fragments of space and time…
Read Bettina Hauke’s answer to the question about the central work further in THE DEED | DAS WERK
How do you protect yourself from too much inspiration in today’s times?
How can there be too much inspiration?
How much of your work is planned in advance – how much arises intuitively?
Most of the time I plan something, discard it, work on intuitively…or vice versa…I start intuitively, see something, and then plan how to proceed….
What are your (next) goals?
I hope I can extend my studio contract in Berlin, if not I will have to look for a new studio…a gallery representation…and of course continue to work in a focused way….
What is your position on the subject of faith? Do you have principles of faith or is there a motto?
If I really want something, if I can see it in front of my eyes, then it will happen to me…
Bettina Hauke, o.T., photo, 2023
Which project would you still like to realise if a lack of time, courage or financial resources did not play a role?
I want to do a series of large scale portraits, of people who have influenced me…really big…with lots of bells and whistles in them…an installation with trees wisping…always wanted to do that….
In your view, what are the attributes of good art?
It must somehow move, do something…touch!
Is one born as an artist? Or is studying art compulsory?
If you have the right teachers…studying art can be good…but it doesn’t have to be…it can also limit your mind….So what does a born artist look like? ..It all depends on where, at what time and by whom you are released into the world…and what and who then shapes you…
How do you see the future of art in the age of AI?
I’m not afraid of it… who knows what AI will do? Art and science can complement each other…I’m curious to see what happens….
What is your opinion on the topic of NFT?
If I create something and then destroy it so it can go into a virtual state and get value in the virtual world…that’s weird…but yeah, why not…it’s still there then…somehow, somewhere else…in a different form…I’d probably make something especially for it…then that would just be a different market, a variant of my artistic creation…So far I’ve ignored all NFT requests.
Bettina Hauke, o.T., 2023, Mixed media on canvas, 80 x 60cm
Who do you show a new work to first?
To my husband, to my mother, the comments are often very good and move me forward…especially when they annoy me….
What does the first hour of your day look like?
When I’m in Oldenburg, my husband usually brings me a coffee in bed, I check my mails, social media, then dogs…then to the studio… in Berlin I make my own coffee and go straight to work….
In the age of the Internet of Things, are galleries still necessary? If so, why and for what?
Absolutely! Especially in the age of the Internet … the more important the personal contacts and conversations … I think professional galleries, a relationship of trust with the gallery owners, provide an artist the necessary freedom to work, not to have to worry about everything. Going it alone is incredibly time consuming…the core business suffers….
Social media – blessing or curse?
When I started, there were still the first modems…the ones with the long, annoying sound when dialing in…today I can do almost everything with my cell phone…I’m glad about that…of course it’s important to take time off as well…to work concentrated…so it can also become a curse…depends on the handling…
EPILOGUE | CURRENT
The exhibition “ÜBERSCHAU #11 VERMEER CONTEMPORARY” with photo and video works by Bettina Hauke is on view from 25 August to 23 September 2023 at the CSR Contemporary Showroom, Friedrichstraße 67-70 in 10117 Berlin-Mitte. The works are presented in a group exhibition with different artists. The exhibition is open Tuesday to Saturday from 11:00 am to 7:00 pm.
Bettina Hauke (Instagram: @bettinahauke.artist)
The DEEDS interviews are not edited or shortened by our editorial team and are always reproduced in original sound. Therefore, we do not translate the interview into English or German unless the interviewee submits a translation or we are entrusted with the translation. Here, the English version of the interview was submitted by the artist.
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