INTERVIEW WITH BENEDIKT HIPP
Elisa Muscatelli – How would you describe your research to an audience encountering it for the first time?
Benedikt Hipp – I found it always hard to break one down into some sentences because then it becomes a bit like a description of a product. I mean, if you get in touch with artwork or with an artist, this can become slowly a start for dialogue for both, somehow. Therefore, I want to answer very generally: of course, you can see for example that the human body is playing a big role in my work, as well as my interest in rituals or fetishes or old techniques like the wood firing technique from my ceramics for example.
EM – The figure of the eye is part of your artistic vision, from the dystopia of Votive eyes (transformed), 2016, which marks the landing of your website, to Enlarged chip implant (ancient recordings) No. 5, 2018, and the Neonatal Refractions series, where it becomes a hidden yet scrutinizing element. How do you approach this symbol?
BH – Especially the use of an eye but other body parts too is coming for sure from the surrounding in which I grew up, in my parents or grandparent’s workshop they produced ex voto in wax over several hundred years. So when I was young I grew up between all the casted body parts and very often I use them as toys. Of course in the 70s – 80s in the south of Germany there was no more use, no existing offering practice anymore, and nowadays instead of the workshop, you can find a small museum about this tradition.
EM – Your works often present surreal figures that try to define themselves and their space. What form does this research for existence assume for you?
BH – The bodies are continuously in transition and change, not only the physiognomy but the perception in society. Especially the last 20 years when you look at how much the idea of the body and many questions referring to human bodies became important to discuss, to change, to develop new ideas. So I don’t know what it means to show or having or being a real or surreal body or figure. I think the term surreal one can use for describing a certain time in the last century but if you look in the old or the younger history of art figurines, figures, bodies, its presentation representation, are quite more than naturalistic physiology.
EM – In the video Treatment of 15 – 18 gram (pneumopathologic studies) you work with a robin until you alter its initial form through the wax. What is your relationship with organic matter and its state of constant transformation?
BH – Yes, as I mentioned before I’m very interested in transition this is also one of the most fascinating parts of ceramic wood firing; this enormous transition from researching, excavating, cleaning, and preparing the clay to form an object and the process of firing it, over many days, this is really something very fascinating, so this told me and this taught me a lot about life and somehow about expecting and accepting.
Treatment of 15 to 18 gram it’s a work from 2014. The video part of the installation, which I shot in Greece, is actually a remake of a performative work I made during my studies in Nuremberg, but back then I have been alone at this very moment and had no chance to document the action. In Greece, unfortunately, there are a lot of overrun and dead animals along the street, and one day I found this robin, and I decided to act and to repeat as I did 15 years ago, and the approximate weight of a robin is 15 to 18 gram.
EM – Is there an artistic, literary, or cinematographic reference that had particular importance in the development of your artistic and personal career?
BH – Yes, of course, there are many names which had been important for my work. For example, I remember very, very good in my studies the short film The perfect human by Jørgen Leth, from 1967, this was such a big impact on me. Also like studies like of the artists like Giorgio Morandi, Fra Angelico, Agnes Martin, Louise Bourgeois or Francis Bacon, or writers like Georges Didi Huberman, Boris Groys or art historian Jörg Scheller I’m working with for many many years. So, of course, the list is really long and at the moment I read some technical books about ceramics, neurophysics, sociology, plants, and gardens.
Treatment of 15 – 18 gram (pneumopathologic studies), 2015 videoloop, 10 min, loam, grass, branches, linseed oil, cement, epoxy, digital frame, aluminium cast, approx. 175 x 77 x 77 cm.
Credits: Galerie Kadel Willborn, Düsseldorf and the Artist.