Tag Archives: london

Talking about my Degeneration

What are you trying to achieve with this new project?‘, Anthony asked.

‘In the beginning I wasn’t really sure, what I was doing, it was mainly an impulse that was driving me. I felt a very strong urge to force myself out of a strange Cul de Sac. I guess my main motivation was just to do something, whatever that was. To create Something out of Nothing’

So there is no meaning to what you are doing

‘You could argue that. On the other hand, the meaning is created by a process that happens over time. But that’s a separate and perhaps more general issue regarding my work. The point of this particular project is to question – for myself – the process that I use in my work. This process originally helped me to stay clear from the seduction of formality and superficial aesthetics, but gradually turned itself on its head. By trying too hard to remain true to my own principles, I ended up with a working process that had become a force of limitation and, ultimately, formality.’

Are you starting a whole new way of working with this project?

‘Not at all. I am still using the same process of working, but my aim is to disregard its key principles….’

Isn’t it paradoxical to say that?

‘Yes, I am aware of that, but it is something that happens all the time, for instance when artistic concepts, ideas or innovations are appropriated by the commercial world. The meaning is then replaced by a product, and the process becomes a pure technique or style that helps to sell this product. It becomes an imitation of itself.’

Is this the moment then where you finally go commercial? 

(Laughing) ‘Perhaps, but I am not interested in exploring the oxymoron you hint at. Not in this project. I am not trying to make a political statement, let alone blame anyone, except perhaps myself. I think the fear of selling out often stands in the way of true creativity, because it can make the work too conceptual or cerebral. In my case, what I fear most is the idea of degeneration.’

Degeneration into the meaningless?

‘That too, but I am mainly talking about degeneration as a technique, such as the material or analogue degeneration of images. When I was studying some years ago, a friend of mine, Terje Fjellstad, made a piece called Talking about my Degeneration. I loved the piece, but even more the title, because it really summed up our generation of artists then, who were all somehow obsessed with the surface of images. But today, this statement could be true for society as a whole. With everything being digital, we yearn for a sense of patina, and degeneration as a technique lends this patina, or at least an illusion of it. And yes, I am worried about degenerating into that sphere.’

Are you?

‘That’s not for me to say. The point is that I shouldn’t worry about it, because, really, my work is not about degeneration….’

Another paradoxical statement. It seems that you are trying to justify what you perceive as a weakness in your work, by saying: it does not exist.

‘You certainly have a point there, again. But as I said before, this is an experiment to analyse and question my own work. And the fact is, that the starting point of my surface gateway project series had nothing to do with degeneration as a technique. It was about the concept of time, in particular the idea of connecting specific moments. The time that passes between those moments is integral to the work, and that can sometimes be years. When I worked on Imparando da Firenze during a residency in Florence in 2014, I realised how important this fact is to me. In terms of the working process, I see my work in the tradition of people such as Botticelli or Raffael, who would sometimes spend years on a painting. The problem is that the passing of time, represented in images of the key moments, creates degeneration naturally. In order to focus attention away from this ‘side effect’, or rather to clarify what’s happening, I have been trying to find ways to communicate the passing of time through the work itself.’

How is that a problem?

‘In theory, there is no problem. In reality, it is futile to attempt the reproduction of time in an artwork, especially if it is a static one. Even in film, or music, true reproduction of time can never be longer than the length of the piece itself. Anything else by default is an illusion…’

A pretty obvious statement…

‘…yet an incredibly complex issue at the same time. In a world of digital media and image manipulation, it is almost impossible to distinguish between real and artificial degeneration [of images], which affects our perception of time, memory and history. For my work this means the layers of moments, represented in layers of images, could have just as easily been produced digitally, including a false sense of image degeneration. That’s why I often use a combination of video and printed images in my final exhibition presentation’

And that is a problem for you?

‘Not as such, I love video, and combining it with printed images, but I came to a point where it felt the two media are there only to justify each other. To say ‘Hey look, this is actually real!’. Also, the format of video, and in particular the way I’m using stop frame animation, means that all the images I use have to fit into the 16:9 format, which is itself is limiting. All in all, this has stopped me from freely experimenting with the second subject that I am trying to explore with this project series. And that is to approach the city, and my printed images in this city space, as a canvas of fragmented spaces. Ultimately, my aim is to sculpt time and space through a visceral process into a visual expression that has similar qualities to painting. That’s why in this current project, I am trying not to worry about the concept of degeneration. I hope this will help me to bring back a more visceral and free approach to my surface gateway project series.

The Bloqs Cafe

This week, I would like to introduce to you an amazing space for artists and makers of all disciplines, which opened just over a year ago in North London.
Building Bloqs, as it is called, is a member based workspace, providing users facilities so they can process wood, metal, paper, plastics, and fabrics, and make almost anything imaginable.
The latest addition to this inspiring environment is the Bloqs Cafe, which offers food and drinks to users and friends of Building Bloqs in a beautiful setting.

I would like to introduce the Bloqs Cafe by way of this week’s menu, which I had the honour to design.

the design of the menu incorporates a shot of the cafe at the opening night on the May, 10, 2013

Building Bloqs is located in Edmonton, North London, just 2 minutes walk from the canal and Tottenham Marshes in Lea Valley Nature Reserve.
For more information visit:

www.buildingbloqs.com
bloqs cafe (facebook page)
© by Rupert Jaeger, all rights reserved

Magma Collective Camping

On the 21st of September 2013, Magma Collective will present Inter-Scape, the latest of the group’s Mnemonic City projects, in the form of an exhibition and event day at Building Bloqs in North London. The event will start at 12pm by the canal outside Tottenham Hale Tube station (Victoria Line) and will run north along the canal through Tottenham Marshes up to Building Bloqs, with performances, installations and other interventions on the way. At the Building Bloqs Gallery will be an art exhibition and in the Bloqs Cafe there will be video projections, music and food.

Inter-Scape is the 4th of Magma Collective’s Mnemonic City series, all projects that explore ideas surrounding cities and the urban environment, this time focusing on the strange mix of nature, industrial ruins, countryside and urban wasteland that exists in Tottenham Marshes, the setting for Inter-Scape. To get fully immersed in the subject, Magma Collective organised a camping night on the 9/10th of August 2013 in the marshes…

Below are a few snapshots of the night.

…about 8pm, 9th of August 2013, Tottenham Marshes, North London…the Magma Collective camping attempt (part 1) starts….

…after some looking around the area, and debating, we have selected a spot….right in the middle of the field….

…this is where we’ll spend the night…the tent we brought turns out is missing some main components, so it’ll be an open air experience….

Pascal Ancel Bartholdi is the first one to get the camera out…true Magma style….

…next one up is Yuri Pirondi with his GoPro…

Ines von Bonhorst is showing her photos to Jaime Valtierra… while Michael Baur is smiling to himself….

Yuri, this time with a slightly larger recording device….

Yuri and Ines in the distance, seen across the burnt patch of the marshes….

….and yet another shot of the gas tower structure and the electricity pylons….all very post-industrial…

…the whole magma group, the gas tower and the chimney of the incinerator in operation…at around 9:30pm…

…and finally a shot taken at around midnight…at this point we were talking about the euro crisis and other things, basically putting the world to rights…
© by Rupert Jaeger, all rights reserved

My First Blog Post

Everyone want’s a blog, right?…well, me too, but this is my first post and it’s June 2013, so I am not exactly setting a trend here. Don’t get me wrong, I am generally quite net and media savvy and have actually set up and written for a few blogs, but they were not mine. So, this post, published at 09:29:56 (BST) on the 21st of June 2013, is my first own blog post ever. And therefore I feel compelled to talk a bit about myself, what I do and what I intend to blog about. And this, I hope, will help you, my audience, to make a judgment on whether this blog is worth a regular read.

Let me begin:

Who Am I?

I am one of those ‘creative individuals’ who’s been trying to find a place somewhere in the spectrum between true artistic expression and commercial succes. In other words, over the last 10 years or so I have been floating between living the life of a penniless artist and selling my soul to the devil.
Sounds familiar? I know, there is a whole army of us out there, a generation of people who grew up with the desire to express our individuality and fulfil our true creative potential, only to end up pushing pixels for Beelzebub.
Gadzooks, I am being extreme! Of course it’s not all that bad, but I do feel sometimes as if I have fallen prey to a clever ploy to establish a new type of slavery. We work for free, without contracts, benefits or any sense of security, all in the name of expressing our creativity.
I wonder how many of us will be able to afford a dentist when our teeth start falling out.

What Do I Do?

Now let me elaborate how the above abstract analysis translates into the particular reality of my existence:
I make a living as Head of Communications for an international architecture firm, which builds properties, mostly large shopping centre complexes all around the globe. It can be pretty exciting work, I get around quite a bit, helping to find new clients and projects, winning awards and expanding the business in general. What’s on the other end of our operations is too far removed from my job for me to really make a judgement on whether the results of my work are for the good or detriment of humankind.
In stark contrast to that are my artistic ambitions and the life and social environment that come with it. I live in a warehouse community in North London, sharing my existence with artists,  left-wing liberals and hippies. My artistic practice revolves around issues of history, cities, places of memory and the reflection of those through images as objects. The two obsessions of my life are the concept of time and America. My preferred media are photography, film/video and writing, usually brought together in some kind of narrative.
Add to all of that an interest in politics and economics, in particular the state of Europe at this moment in time, and you might understand next time you see me walking around Finsbury Park with a can of cider in my hand.

Is This Worth A Read?

I’ll leave that to you to decide, but if my brief introduction made you just a little curious, then do come back, because I intend to create regular posts that draw inspiration from my somewhat contradictory life and the experiences around it. And of course I’ll present  my art to you, keep you posted on exhibitions, events and happenings, and last but not least, I’ll let you in on on a little secret of mine.
© by Rupert Jaeger, all rights reserved

The Book

I. Something

One evening, a few years ago, four individuals were drinking in a pub. The four were part of a larger group of people, who were all connected in some form, which was partly due to the fact that, by some random coincidence, they all shared their existence at the same time in the same place, and partly due to their sharing of certain, similar kinds of interests, thinking and ambitions. These overlaps of space, time and character traits resulted in a number and variety of shared, or common, activities. In the weeks preceding the evening, which had been a period of particular intensity, an unusually large amount of these activities had occurred.
A few years ago, one evening, four people were drinking. They were sitting around a table, in a pub. The four decided to form a band. Therefore, firstly, and most crucially, they had to come up with a name.
preface to the first edition iii

The Book – 150 pages, © by Rupert Jaeger 2007

The Book’ tells the whole story of Rentner, from its birth to its death, its strange disguises and hybrids, from the band that never happened, over an image retrieval project that spanned across six european cities, a company run by hard-nosed business men, and ultimately to its own total corporate and conceptual deconstruction…

The story starts at an undisclosed location in space and time, which serves as a framework from where the present is always the past, and then jumps to a very specific location in Barcelona, Spain, at precisely 15:17:28 hrs local time on the 22 of September 2001. From here onwards unfolds an experimental narrative in image and word that is at once a fictional account of a group of time travellers from the future , and at the same time a documentation of the real live story of a group of artists who called themselves Rentner.
The group was active from September 2001 until September 2004 with projects and exhibitions in Barcelona, Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam, Berlin, Frankfurt and London. The Book, which is largely made up of photos, sketches, writings and other documents from that time, was first published in 2007.

The preface (to the first edition) sets the framework of the story by presenting a collage of documents that piece together a fragmented concept of the world experienced by the characters of the narrative. The above document is of particular focus, with its text forming the main context of the overall narrative. A full transcript of this document can be found here.

A photograph of Barcelona, Spain, opening the chapter ‘Old Europe‘, with the precise location marked where a particular moment occurred, which was not only to be the defining moment of the book, but the initiating moment of a process that is still ongoing today.

Double page recalling what happened during the Rentner agents’ stay in Brussels, Belgium, in mid October 2001. It was here that they started to not only question their mission, but to deviate from their original plans, and ultimately disrespect the timetable and route across Old Europe.

Snapshots of a number of ‘durational moments‘ that were retrieved in Amsterdam, Netherlands, late October 2001.
After  Amsterdam, the Rentner agents left a number of traces in Berlin and Frankfurt, Germany, in November 2001. After that,  there was no trace of them…

…for just over one year, when a company by the name of ‘Rentner Collective Ltd’ was incorporated at Companies House, in London, United Kingdom, on the 27th of September 2002. Around the same time, a number of public interventions, events and exhibitions started to occur across London, organised by a group called ‘Rentner Collective‘. Whether the two entities consisted of the same people, and who those people actually were could never be verified.

These photos were taken around Oxford Street, central London, on the 12th of December 2002. No other details are available about the nature of this intervention, the person on the photos or who the photos were taken by.

The same location, a few months later, on the 15th of April 2003. This time, the cardboard has been replaced by a proper sign with a logo, evidently of Rentner Collective, which is accompanied by a web address. The domain, www.rentnercollective.com, is still available online, but has not been updated since September 2004.

The same sign, as one of the centre pieces of ‘This is Rentnercollective‘, an art exhibition that took place at the ‘Islington Arts Factory‘ from Friday the 13th of February to 5th of March 2004. The exhibition was a group show with 7 artists showing work, which were connected via red ropes, continuing a theme running through the work of Rentner Collective at that time, which was the colour red (C:0 M:99 Y:100 K:0), and in particular in the form of a red line.

Double page spread of ‘The Book‘, showing visitors seen from above at ‘This is Rentnercollective?‘, across the red ropes connecting the work.

The Red Line‘ was to find its most extreme prominence as a theme of Rentner Collective in the art exhibition ‘The Vault‘ that took place at ‘The Foundry‘, in London’s Old Street from the 24th of June to the 11th of July 2004. One of the centre pieces of this exhibition was a straight red line, that was painted along all four walls of one of the basement rooms, the vault of this former bank building. The Red Line was painted around every corner or other protrusion of the wall, creating unusual perspectives and distortions of the line.

Double page spread of The Book showing the take down of ‘The Red Line’, which had been painted directly onto the wall, and therefore was only existent for the duration of the exhibition. In order to keep physical objects that can represent the exhibition in retrospect, various techniques were employed to preserve pieces of the wall or of ‘The Red Line’ itself.

From the 11th to the 22nd of September 2004 ‘Credit History‘ took place in the ‘Pavilion‘, a gallery next to the river in the city of Frankfurt, Germany. Before the exhibition, a large number of business cards of some of the members of Rentner Collective were cut into random pieces, from which a selection of 6 pieces was made, which were to feature in the exhibition in Frankfurt.

The six selected pieces were then enlarged and painted on the main wall of the gallery space, which created an abstract combination of seemingly random shapes of red colour on the wall.
Credit History‘ was the last time that Rentner Collective ever presented an exhibition and since then there has been no trace of any of its members.

450 St Ann’s Road‘ in the North London Borough of Haringey, where some of the members of Rentner Collective purportedly lived from 2002 until they disappeared in September 2004. The property was bought in early 2005 by an unknown property developer, who demolished the building a few months after it was acquired. No development plans have since been presented to the local authorities and the plot remains derelict.

© by Rupert Jaeger 2007

The first edition of ‘The Book’ was a limited edition of 200 copies, which has since its publication sold out. Edition 2, a slightly updated version, is currently being produced. If you would like a copy or an electronic version, please contact:

Rupert Jaeger
+44 (0)751 233 1561
contact@rupertjaeger.com