Q&A with Florian Neufeldt – Soliloqui at The Gallery Apart
Berlin based Florian Neufeldt (Bonn, 1976) intervenes upon the relationship between space and object to create an intellectual discourse that seeks to reevaluate the site specificity of existing “things” as well as the inconsistency of their utilitarian qualities in a changing environment.
In addition to his native Germany, he has held solo exhibitions in Austria, France, and Israel. Soliloqui is his second show at The Gallery Apart following More or the same, held at the Roman gallery in 2010. Following the recently concluded exhibition (22.03.14 – 17.05.14) we sat down with Florian to ask him a few questions about his practice.
Is there a general rule you follow upon intervening on a preexistent space?
I don’t believe in rules very much. An intervention usually takes place when the space gets in my head. If this doesn’t happen I might simply put a work in it. The idea is to let a space come to me by spending time in it. Peculiar things might catch my interest and trigger thoughts like in the case of the window-work at the Gallery Apart.
Your work often revolves around the concept of modifying objects while simultaneously preserving, if not their original function, at least a memory of it. Can you describe how you intend the relation between the practice of assemblage/modification and the status/identity of the original object?
The function is not preserved – rather it is lost through the creation of the piece. As you said, it is more about remembering how it worked. When beginning to manipulate an object, the focus on its intended use is secondary to the technical aspects of its invention and construction. Since the origin of the object is never merely material to me, I strive to erase its identifiable tangibility while never fully losing its origin. The aim is to draw a line between the identity of the former thing and the identity of the work as something new and autonomous. This line of difference sunders the object in two halves that should nevertheless both be present. As a form of abstraction, it is only successful if it stops at a certain point and doesn’t lose its reference.
To what extent do you think your work deals with the traditional idea of sculpture?
I guess that my work dwells mainly in the realm of sculpture even though sculpture is not the main issue. A work is a reaction to the world in numerous ways; it makes use of what it deals with and what it reacts to. The idea of transformation and the efficient use of preexistent structures serves as a form of restriction in my work and plays a bigger role than the idea of sculpture.
And how much is it related to the idea of architecture?
Working with a space doesn’t feel so different from working with an object. The latter has the tendency – at least in my mind – to be some kind of model for enormous architectures. (Or maybe sculptures, I’m actually not so sure about that.) That architecture is not only something to observe but a tangible entity we can walk through, hide in or be locked in is quite a fascinating concept in itself. I am thus interested in basic architectural features such as floors, walls and ceilings. They elicit in us certain movements or reactions while at the same time revealing themselves through a constant, immutable presence.
In the most emblematic work of Soliloqui, Reassuring a heater of its temperature, you dismantled various parts of the windows of the gallery space to build a new, smaller structure containing a working radiator. By removing the fixtures, you expose the gallery space to all weather conditions: is the shelter’s utilitarian value intrinsically tied to the act of its creation? And is it somehow related to the idea that objects themselves are often today the reason of their own supposed usefulness?
The idea that an object’s mere presence is enough to justify its existence, like in a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy, is quite intriguing to me. This concept acquires momentous significance if we think about how our society continuously reproduces itself: be it the fields of fashion or art, or even status and social hierarchy. The above-mentioned work has a lot to do with letting the outside in and keeping the inside out. It restricts and at the same time reorganizes structures we are accustomed to using and seeing everyday. Our world often seems so taken for granted that it is as if we could afford to sleepwalk right through it. I find a certain joy in manipulating this idea.
Is there any reaction that you would expect from a spectator gazing at your work?
It is difficult to answer this question in a broad sense. I nevertheless believe that a piece should impose its presence- whatever that means.