His work caught my eye in the window at Galerie Gerken as I walked along Augustrasse the first week I was here, and I made up my mind then and there that I must find out more and write a piece.
His studio wasn't far from where I'm going to be living, right in the heart of Neukölln. It was a little shack of a place, just two rooms with a low ceiling and a cement floor in a free standing building, and it was completely unheated save for a small heater that he'd lit.
I turned on my recorder and we talked for two hours straight about his art, the Berlin art scene, experimenting with rouge materials, and the unexpected beauty of things that have been ruined. He used to be a painter, but now he experiments with things he finds around him. One of the things he does is takes plastic bags and shrink wraps them to canvas stretcher bars using heat. He admits that the process is extremely toxic, but says he does it outside and uses a mask.
This piece is called "Helios", and is comprised of old pairs of sunglasses and melted plastic bags, spray painted gold:
He showed me a small piece of mammoth ivory and told me that Siberia is littered with mammoths, buried in the ground. The people there heat the ground to harvest the ivory because it is legal to sell mammoth ivory, as opposed to elephant ivory. "This has nothing to do with my art, really, but somehow this ancient ivory inspires me."
He also showed me a dead, mummified rabbit his uncle had found and given to him. He had spray painted it gold and planned to use it as part of a sculpture. Where some of the leg was missing he had created a bionic replacement with various bits of plastic and metal, all spray painted gold.
I wrapped things up when I could no longer feel my toes... his little heater just wasn't strong enough to make much difference in the studio/shack. He gave me a very small work of art before I left, about the size of a post card. I love it – it will be something to hang on the wall in my new apartment. The title is on the back: "Bürn, Baby, Bürn".
Unfortunately, both of my cameras had dead batteries (wtf!) so I couldn't get a single image of him, his work, or his studio. I think I'm going to ask if I can come back to do a photo shoot because I think an image of him in his studio would be great for the article. It's always interesting to see the places where art is produced.