NAME: Björn Meyer-Ebrecht
MEDIUM: Mixed Media
STUDIO LOCATION: 1182 Flushing Ave. 2nd floor
BUSHWICK OPEN STUDIO HOURS: Saturday June 2nd, 2012, 12pm-7pm, Sunday June 3rd, 2012, 12pm-7pm
TIME IN BUSHWICK: 7 years
SHARED STUDIO: No
[Editor’s note: Over the next three days we’ll be recommending artist studios we think readers should visit during Bushwick Open Studios this weekend, providing interviews with selected artists and compiling it into handy AFC maps you all can use to get around. We know the size of this event can be a little overwhelming. Hopefully, our work will make navigating the Bushwick terrain a little easier.]
The sheer volume of architectural references in Bjorn Meyer-Ebrecht’s work borders on obsessive. He tapes together ink renderings of institutional structures, he collages stacked chairs as though building blocks, and he builds maquettes of buildings. Even his bookshelves look more like vertical floor plans than furniture. We’re looking forward to seeing more of that kind of focus this week at Bushwick Open Studios.
We featured your work on AFC in 2010. How has your work changed since then?
Thinking about changes in my work I have to immediately think about consistencies at the same time. When starting something that seems radically new, not much later I will see a connection to prior work, often to much earlier work. Recently I have been building large cardboard sculpture, on a scale I have never worked on, and I find myself thinking that I just solved a problem, which I tried to resolve four or five years ago, and that is surprising. More concretely, since AFC featured my work, it’s ventured out much more into the third dimension. Having always used images from old books, I have gotten more interested in the book as an object itself. This resulted in an extensive series of sculptures that are each propping up a paperback. This was quite a new experience of finding a very immediate and playful way of making sculpture.
You write that your interest in architecture comes from your upbringing in post-war Germany. Has New York changed or informed that focus at all?
New York has enabled me to do the kind of work I am doing. Only after moving here I could start grasping the meaning of being a German artist, and away from Germany I could actually identify my interests in the particular recent history of Germany. Yet, at this point, I find that my interest in architecture is now much broader, more universal, and more focused on the politics and social implications of architecture, and less about a specific national identity.
In both your sculptural and drawing work we often see forms repeated, as though architectural in nature. In some cases these forms seem to specifically reference minimalist forms (I’m thinking of the bookshelves and panels in particular). Is there a relationship between this and the police images and institutional buildings you use in other work?
A few years ago I started to use big spray painted stenciled shapes – for example fragmented hexagons, or the shape of “C”, etc. It was the first time I paired abstract forms with image material. I called these shapes “ominous forms”. I thought of these forms as having a certain unease or even menacing power over the viewer. But as one encounters these shapes only in fragments, it is never clear where this power is coming from. I see the use of the abstract shapes in my book sculptures in a similar vein. In a playful way they create architectural forms that may look like fragmented logos or signs, and often appear as defunct letters, having lost their immediate relevance. In equal terms I like to think that the abstract shapes relate to a larger institutional structure (for example as logos of political parties, governments and other public institutions), even as they also relate to the idealism of abstraction in painting.
I define my notion of architecture in the broadest way. As the opposite of institutional architecture I have been lately interested in people forming what I think of as “spontaneous architecture”. This is where my use of images of protesters and riot police is coming from. Whereas the demonstrators are creating a kind of ad hoc architecture by claiming and organizing public space, the riot police represent the last resort of maintaining institutional structure.
What keywords do you most often plug into Google image search?
Most my work includes found images. For the most part, I somehow have not come around to using images from the Internet, other than for broader research. It seems essential that my images are printed work. Most of my collages are made directly out of found material, and even if I scan and blow up images, I am interested in the physicality of the image with its half-tone dots etc.