Interview: Rolf Berte
Luca Curci talks with Rolf Berte during FUTURE LANDSCAPES, third appointment of BORDERS Art Fair 2020, at Palazzo Albrizzi-Capello.
Rolf Berte lives and works in Schleswig-Holstein and Hamburg, Germany. After receiving his engineering degree, he worked at various research institutes. Through his role as managing director at the Institute for Exploratory Data Analysis (IED in Germany, Hamburg), he can incorporate his technical knowledge into interactive pieces. His installations are created at his workshop near the Danish border and feature microcontrollers, lights, and touch displays. During his worldwide adventure tours, Rolf documents wildlife, landscapes, and urban life with his photography. His other interests include science, philosophy, and sailing.
Luca Curci – What is art for you?
Rolf Berte – If an artist has created something, it is art if it pleases at least one person. And it would be helpful if that didn’t include the artist. Painting, sculpting, or building something has been a human need for centuries. What prompted a man from the Stone Age to etch something into a cave wall? For thousands of years, art has only come to life through the interaction between the object and the observer. The viewer wittingly or unwittingly gauges this interaction and thus decides whether it constitutes art. If need be, the artist can declare their own work to be art. There you have it! But that would ultimately go against my personal definition.
LC – Which subject are you working on?
RB – I’m currently working on sustainability projects. During the Venice Architecture Biennale in 2021, the Earth Messenger will be exhibited. The interactive installation is shaped in the form of an obelisk. In ancient Egypt, the so-called Tehen pillars represented the link between the earthly and celestial realms. Rulers had architects erect towering obelisks to symbolize their power. Through this mystical life-sized object, the visitor can send a message back to Earth. A laser beams the encoded text from the tip of the obelisk. The visitor is encouraged to think about the content of their message. He or she can send personal thoughts or voice their displeasure over the current state of affairs on this planet. Perhaps the visitor feels incomprehension, anger, or commiseration. They can react appropriately to this through the Earth Messenger. Depending on one’s discretion and disposition, the visitor can send out individual wishes, caution politicians, dole out advice, berate tyrants, express regret or spread optimism.
LC – Which is the role the artist plays in society? And contemporary art?
RB – Artists provide a variety of entertainment through contemporary art. All facets of this kind of creative “diversion” have a right to exist. They may create a pleasant sensation or a sense of wonder; they may be sources of inspiration or even influence society. Courageous artists have always been among the first to denounce grievances: they and their work act as an indicator of society’s state and its plight. Contemporary art also reflects the current dreams, desires, fears, and problems of our society. This kind of art offers the artists complete freedom in the choice of their form of expression. There are no laws or limits to the materials, shapes, and colours. Contemporary art has the chance to reach a large part of society through cutting-edge projects.
LC – What is your creative process like?
RB – When a topic inspires me, I work backwards, so to speak. I think about the kind of effect I would like to achieve, creating the interactive and critical objects according to this specification. On the other hand, I want to capture what I feel when looking at a picture and share it with the visitor later on. I am only satisfied when the image conveys my desired reaction to the viewer.
LC – Are your artworks focused on a specific theme?
RB – Basically, I’m not married to one topic or a single technique. At the moment, the themes of sustainability and causality are my focus. My pictures and objects are meant to encourage you to think about the current situation. By sending the Earth Cans to politicians and corporations, I am experimenting with causality. Can art influence society? Although I don’t ask anyone to do so, I receive feedback that the Cans are striking a chord.
LC – What do you think about the concept of this festival? How did it inspire you?
RB – The concept enables artists to present their works to a broader audience. This concept is ideally tailored to my person and work.
LC – What is the message linked to the artwork you have shown in this exhibition? How is it connected to the theme of the entire festival?
RB – The Future Landscapes theme could not have been more fitting for my exhibited objects. Only the title Future Earthscapes could reinforce my message on sustainability to the visitors even more.
LC – Would you suggest a collaboration with us? What do you think about our services?
RB – I can only recommend that every artist work with ITSLIQUID. The service leaves nothing to be desired. Any questions were answered promptly and competently.
LC – Do you think ITSLIQUID GROUP can represent an opportunity for artists?
RB – Due to the wide range of topics, the appropriate framework is provided for almost every artist. It represents a great chance to present one’s work to a broad audience.
LC – Did you enjoy cooperating with us?
RB – I really enjoyed our collaboration, and I’m already looking forward to the next project.