This Q&A column focuses on the indeterminate borders between off-/project-/artist-run spaces and the people that keep them going [#Off Space Q&A].
Law of Life (LoL) is an artist* collective which is currently based in Berlin, Hamburg and Leipzig. Founded in 2018, the aim has been to create collective paths and structures for young artists to support each other. Therefore crosslinking and building sustainable networks through initiating a close dialogue between artists, curators and cultural workers is a crucial part of their practice. Their first project dealt with the topic of Resistance and was shown in three successive exhibitions. These took place from 2019 to 2020 at Vunu Gallery in Kosice (SK), Frappant Gallery in Hamburg and the Center for Contemporary Art in Berlin. LoL is interested in situations of instability and topics such as the question of visibility and perspectives, narratives of “othering” and therefore structures of gender and communication as well as the interplay of body and institution. Currently the collective consists of the following members: Katarína Dubovská, Rahel grote Lambers, Alexander Klaubert, Francis Kussatz, Julia Lübbecke and Xiaofu Wang.
Was it a good idea?
Working with a really unique group of people subverting the competitive structures of the art world by supporting each other and creating meaningful projects together? Obviously!
Who/what has held you up?
If you interpret ‘hold up’ in the positive sense, we’re held up by: our relationships with one another and the fierce energy that emanates from them, as well as the process of collaboration and mutual appreciation.
If you interpret ‘hold up’ in the negative sense, the things that have held us up are: elitist structures, lack of resources, and being reduced to human capital.
Is there a limit/ are there limits?
The collective stands and falls with its members.
The collective stands and falls with its collaborators.
The collective stands and falls with the time it has available.
The collective rises and falls with personal experience.
The collective stands and falls with exchange.
The collective stands and falls with its ability to resist the ruling system.
What do you need?
Time for each other, a place to retreat together, a place to share and exhibit, a way to include more people in the process and grow. A collective also needs financial resources to sustain itself. We are just few of many artists who need a sustainable infrastructure in the arts which supports long term collective and collaborative work.
What has been given and what do you take?
We have been given several opportunities to work on projects with unique people in different languages and interesting environments. We have learned a lot along the way by exchanging thoughts, experiences and perspectives.
We take these opportunities as they come.
Is it sustainable?
So far the collective itself, our collaborations, dialogues and our relationships to one another are sustainable. Our connections to one another are sustainable because they take place on more than one level, not only professionally but personally.
We do not only support the structure of the collective, but in return the collective structure gives us strength and energy for our own work. The feedback, understanding, and help that we get from each other isn’t easy to find.
However, we do not find the structures that are supposed to support us (in the art world) very sustainable. They usually only cater to individual artists and reinforce the fact it’s often impossible to realize projects without a part-time job or personal capital.
In the art world there are so many means-to-an-end relationships in competitive structures that the collective feels like one of the few safe places to connect on different levels, over a longer period of time, in a way that is not only determined by cost-benefit factors.
What is the shape?
The collective takes on different shapes. It adapts to situations and resists them at the same time. Sometimes it takes on a caring shape.
Does it fit?
Participation is voluntary and yet there is a responsibility that guides us to align the collective and our life situations.This willingness makes it possible to adjust, even if it can sometimes seem impossible.
On the other hand, if artistic work were remunerated differently, we wouldn’t have to make it “fit” it into our lives. In another respect, no, it doesn’t fit, as a day has only 24 hours and what is asked of artists today cannot ever fit in this amount of time. Especially if you want to get enough sleep.
Future or Past?
The past is necessary to understand the present and for us to learn to fight for a future in which we can live as equals.
However, conceptualizing anything (societies, perception of time and space, and so on) in dichotomies is problematic. Therefore we try to constantly undermine them. We recognize the past as a way to cope with the present and we recognize the future as already implicated by the effects of both.
All those who stand up for a fairer (art) world and are against any form of fascism and discrimination.
What do you measure?
Collective work is not only growth-oriented.
Digital or physical?
Both, hand in hand.
Why do you stay?
Everyone can be alone. But together we can achieve much more.
What would be the alternative? Leaving without really starting?
Therefore we stay.
Is it enough?
It is a beginning!
And finally, a new question added in April 2022 in acknowledgement of the continuing Russian war on Ukraine: do you have anything you would like to share?
We could simply say that we stand in solidarity with the people of Ukraine and that the war and brutality must end – but how can such an answer to such a question really do justice to the complexity of the war?
|Alexander Klaubert Francis Kussatz Julia Lübbecke Katarína Dubovská Kathryn Zazenski Law of Life (LoL) Off Space Q&A Rahel grote Lambers Xiaofu Wang