Brick Flac: A Conversation with Kerstin Braetsch
Kerstin Brätsch is one of the few New York-based artists in the New Museum's forthcoming Generational exhibition, Younger than Jesus. Obfuscating the divisions between traditional media, Brätsch's installations feature large oil paintings and three-dimensional units, such as magazine and poster racks. The posters and zines both advertise and remix corresponding paintings. This strategy extends to the collective Das Institut, the performance group It's Our Pleasure to Serve You, and to printed media—interviews, advertisements, and portraits. Conveying an amount of skepticism, Brätsch's work propels a discussion of ground and support between the artist's paintings and her work as both a musician and a performer.
Brätsch and I recently met at my Chinatown apartment for an interview. The artist initiated a game—a performance of sorts in which both questions and answers were to be appropriated from material circulated by the respective institutions with which we are affiliated, the New Museum for Brätsch, and the Swiss Institute for me. While the two sources of the material remained constant, inevitably the game turned the conventional question and answer, so as to render opaque exactly whom was being interviewed.
PIPER MARSHALL: What is the first major historical event that you can distinctly remember?
KERSTIN BRAETSCH: It's pretty general. Do you think this is specific or general reality?
MARSHALL: What historical event do you feel has shaped your generation?
BRAETSCH: I heard an anecdote once, I think it was Mies van der Rohe, "The basis of all structures is the placing of two bricks together, the placing of two bricks together is the basis of all structures."
MARSHALL: Are there particular authors, critics, publications, films, tv shows, or other cultural material that you feel shaped your sense of generation?
BRAETSCH: It's inevitable; it's an unending inevitable circle, but you can break it if you choose to.
PS: Please list a few other creative persons—musicians, designers, novelists, architects, not visual artists—who you consider to be your contemporaries. Does this feeling stem from the fact that you are of the same generation?
BRAETSCH: In quantum physics, there are multiple realities existing at the same time.
MARSHALL: Do you think your art embodies something particular about your generation, and additionally, the early twenty first century?
BRAETSCH: It is more of a question of being able to exist. The way I understand it, if you define reality as more of a biological existence, that too is a social definition. Socially, it is similar to the way one defines survivorship and acquiring needs, which shifts from person to person.
MARSHALL: Do you feel that your work is specific to a particular culture or time?
BRAETSCH: Such is the sadness of life, such is the sadness of life.
MARSHALL: What sources do you tap into to learn about what other artists are making?
BRAETSCH: Have and take, or give and get, all are built with the same erector set.
Image: Untitled (with infinite book editions), 2007, Plexiglas, hand made books, Xerox copies, metal, and Mylar, 32 X 45 X 36 1/2 in. Courtesy of Andrew Kreps Gallery
Questions taken from a survey circulated by the New Museum to artists participating in the Generational, Younger Than Jesus. Answers taken from Water In Milk Exists, 2008, co-coordinated by Swiss Institute, directed by Lawrence Weiner.