Interview: Johanna Mangold and Jan-Hendrik Pelz | ITSLIQUID

Interview: Johanna Mangold and Jan-Hendrik Pelz

Interviews | March 19, 2018 |

Interview: Johanna Mangold and Jan-Hendrik PelzImage courtesy of Johanna Mangold and Jan-Hendrik Pelz

Interview: Johanna Mangold and Jan-Hendrik Pelz

Luca Curci talks with Johanna Mangold and Jan-Hendrik Pelz during RITUALS of ANIMA MUNDI FESTIVAL in Venice.

Johanna Mangold was born in 1984 in Kempten (Germany). She studied from 2006 to 2007 at the “Akademie für Gestaltung” in Regensburg (Germany) and from 2007 to 2015 she studied painting and graphic arts at the “Staatliche Akademie der Bildenden Künste Stuttgart (Academy of Fine Arts Stuttgart, Germany) with Prof. Cordula Güdemann and Prof. Rolf BierJan-Hendrik Pelz, born in 1984 in Filderstadt (Germany), studied painting and sculpture at the “Staatliche Akademie der Bildenden Künste Stuttgart” with Christian Jankowski. 2010 he was a scholar in Hungary and Switzerland. 2017 he got the master-student scholarship at the academy.


Interview: Johanna Mangold and Jan-Hendrik PelzImage courtesy of Johanna Mangold and Jan-Hendrik Pelz



Luca Curci – What is the message linked to the video you have shown in this exhibition? How is it connected to the theme of RITUALS – ANIMA MUNDI FESTIVAL?

Johanna Mangold and Jan-Hendrik Pelz – Zutat #9 (“Ingredient #9”) is part of our video work “Zaubertrank” (“Magic Potion”). For this work we will brew a magic potion that transforms us into the greatest artists in the world. After detailed research in the field of magic, we collected the appropriate ingredients. We documented every ingredient, corresponding searches and mythical rituals by video. In the course of our video work we perform 23 rituals, which finally will add up to one complete artwork. We are still working on performing and filming the collection of a few remaining ingredients. In a performance as part of a future exhibition, we will concoct the elixir, and at the close, drink it. Zutat #9“ (“Ingredient #9”) documents the preparation of one of the needed ingredients for the potion – the ashes of a fire salamander. By being burnt the dried animal passes through different states and textures. In alchemy similar transformations are described, often in the scope of chemical processes, which signify, in a metaphorical sense, an inner transformation. The fire salamander (Salamandra salamandra) embodies the element of fire. As an elemental spirit it is understood to be the subtle entity of thermal processes. It was believed that the fire salamander could endure fire unscathed or even live in the flames and feed from them. Hence it was described as a fire creature. In alchemy the animal served as an emblem for the “Lapis philosophorum”, the so called philosopher’s stone, which would become potent when being heated and which the searches of the alchemists were all about. In “exterior alchemy” the stone was said to be able to transform base metals like lead into noble metals like gold and was a symbol for prosperity and eternal life. In “Interior Alchemy” it signifies the transmutation of the spirit and mind and is a symbol for healing and catharsis and for the metamorphosis of the lower to a higher self. No animals were hurt or killed for our project. The dried salamander was found by the artist Jan-Hendrik Pelz when he was a child.


Interview: Johanna Mangold and Jan-Hendrik PelzImage courtesy of Johanna Mangold and Jan-Hendrik Pelz


Another ingredient of our potion ist the pelvic bone of a cave bear which was held up in a cave with one index finger in each bone aperture. The bear is known as a shamanic power animal, that has been worshipped by men since the Stone Age. This is proved by many findings dating back to Stone Age, like bear bone carvings of mother goddess figurines. The extinct cave bear (Ursus spelaeus) was a predator that shared its habitat with the first of our kind and occasionally lived in caves. Caves are a symbol for the womb of the mother goddess deep inside the earth, and the bear that hibernates inside the cave and crawls out in spring accompanied by his little cubs, was worshipped as a messenger of the mother goddess or even as the goddess herself. So the bear also is a symbol for fertility, birth, being born into the world or – interpreted as an inner psychological process-giving birth to a new self. Furthermore the bear is still seen as an embodiment of vast prosperity, as in myths, legends and fairy tales he is known as a keeper of gems, treasures and gold in the bowels of the earth. As a popular heraldic animal he still holds a strong symbolism, e.g. on the crest of the city Bern in Switzerland. Many magical items are traditionally bone crafted. Bones are known to hold the powers of the creature they once were part of. In most cultures bones are closely linked to ritual and ceremony. The mammalian pelvic bone is the part of the female skeleton, which unborn life must pass to come into the world. It is a symbol for the new, the reinvented self.


L.C. – What do you think about the concept of this event? In which way did inspire you?

J.M. and J.H.P. – We discovered the open call for Anima Mundi Festival by accident, but we knew straight away, that our work would fit the concept ideally and would enhance the exhibition. Especially the part Rituals really spoke to us, since we find the topic, both, as artists and also in private, very interesting. Unfortunately this topic is rarely in the focus of exhibitions. Anima Mundi is way more than an abstract concept or an idea of natural philosophy. A broad and fertile field of associations opens for artists, that want to work on this theme. From Plato to modernism there can be seized many different approaches and cultural references to the item and alongside the historical and philosophical meanings, of course, also a personal approach is important and might be incorporated into the work. In this case the artwork already existed when we discovered the open call for “Anima Mundi”. Certainly the topic of an exhibition can inspire artists to create artworks that would have never been realized without the influence of the given theme. Such a process can lead to very productive periods of one’s work. Otherwise a predefined frame can also hamper creativity. Depending on personality everyone reacts differently, of course.


Interview: Johanna Mangold and Jan-Hendrik PelzImage courtesy of Johanna Mangold and Jan-Hendrik Pelz


L.C. – Are your videos focused on a specific theme?

J.M. and J.H.P. – Zaubertrank“ (“Magic Potion”) is the first performance/video work we realize together. We collaborate for about two years now, producing artworks together in different domains. Though as solo artist our work differs from one another quite strong. Johanna Mangold works primarily in the fields of painting, graphics, objects, poetry and sound, while Jan- Hendrik Pelz’ approach is more conceptual and manifests in painting, video or performance. We are planning to realize another video work in the future, although we haven’t decided on the subject yet. It is important for us to find an approach that interests and affects us both strongly. You can find our recent works on our websites:  |


Interview: Johanna Mangold and Jan-Hendrik PelzImage courtesy of Johanna Mangold and Jan-Hendrik Pelz


L.C. -Did you style change over the years? How?

J.M. and J.H.P. – Over time the manners and style of one’s creative work change, even if the essence stays the same. In the case of Jan-Hendrik Pelz the focus shifted from paintings with a narrative content to more and more conceptual works that include also other media like sculpture, photography and performance. The medium adjusts to matter and topic, whereas in the past it was the other way round.
Johanna Mangold who has been working primarily in the areas of painting and graphic arts, is expanding her spectrum by video art and sound installations, creating work constellations incorporating pieces of art in different media which are thematically connected.


Interview: Johanna Mangold and Jan-Hendrik PelzImage courtesy of Johanna Mangold and Jan-Hendrik Pelz


L.C. – Which are your artistic projects for the future? Is there any possibilities for a new participation in some Italian exhibitions?

J.M. and J.H.P. – As an artist collective we are currently also working on a different concept, we call “Allelopath” (allelopathy is a biological phenomenon by which an organism produces one or more biochemicals that influence the germination, growth, survival, and reproduction of other organisms), which is very exciting to realize. For the first part of the series we worked over the period of ten weeks in a corresponding way to each other, where every piece of artwork is directly related to the preceding one. The starting point was a monotype from Johanna, on which Jan- Hendrik reacted with a drawing, picking up a detail of the preceding monotype. Then Johanna reacted in turn on this artwork and so on. In continuation of this concept, a chain of coherent pieces emerged. The connection between the individual works can be content-related, formally or associatively. “Allelopath” includes paintings, graphics, objects, poetry and sound installations. Currently the series comprises 46 individual artworks. One of the next exhibitions we take part is located in Vicenza in Italy. “Veritas” is a group exhibition of the International Art Collective “Strada dell’Arte” from September to October 2017.


Interview: Johanna Mangold and Jan-Hendrik PelzImage courtesy of Johanna Mangold and Jan-Hendrik Pelz


L.C. – Would you suggest cooperating with us? What do you think about It’s LIQUID Group and our services?

J.M. and J.H.P. – At first the terms for the participation at the exhibition „Anima Mundi“ seemed somewhat unusual for us, as we didn’t work with curators in this way in the past. But since the topic of the exhibition matched so well with our work, and because of the outstanding location of the exhibition, we wanted to get involved. And we got pleasantly surprised!


Interview: Johanna Mangold and Jan-Hendrik PelzImage courtesy of Johanna Mangold and Jan-Hendrik Pelz


L.C. -Do you think that this experience could be useful for artists and can contribute to increase personal background?

J.M. and J.H.P. – It was a worthwhile experience for us. We think, as an artist, one can definitely benefit from such a well planned and curated exhibition. Also it is great to run the chance of showing artworks during the Venice Biennale! The offerings of “Its Liquid” are substantial and the partnering institutions are well placed and reputable and we could imagine to cooperate with “Its liquid” again in the future.

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