All posts tagged: Anne Wizorek

Various & Gould and a Collaged Human Future:  “Permanently Improvised”

Various & Gould and a Collaged Human Future: “Permanently Improvised”

“Our early conceptions about a future robot world were made from what we knew about automation and mechanics. Thankfully the surrealists and Dadaists were there to help us with flying ships made of tea pots and mystic, amiable metal helpers soldered and screwed together with spare train pistons and kitchen implements. Our helpers were all carefully oiled and pumping, marching in a mathematical concert through dry-ice fog, propelling herky-jerky humanoids up the path to the thoroughly modern world.

Do Rabotniki exist? They are already here. It just took Various & Gould to remind us.”

~ Steven P. Harrington in his essay “A Mixed and Matched Future-Past: Robotiniki” for “Permanently Improvised: 15 years of Urban Print Collage” by Various & Gould

Various & Gould. Permanently Improvised. Editors Various & Gould. Published by seltmann+sohne. Berlin 2019.

The Berlin based Street Art/fine art duo have released a colorful patchwork overview of 8 major campaigns they formulated for the street in the last decade and a half and present their practice in a series of analytical essays ranging by urban/art intellectuals, activists, and experts including Jan Kage, Steven P. Harrington, Toby Ashraf, Alison Young, Luis Muller Phillip-Shohn, Ilaria Hoppe, Anne Wizorek, Mohamed Amjahid, and an illuminating interview with the artists and Polina Soloveichik. The two open their kooky-cryptic inner fantasy world to the reader and to fans who have wondered how their idiosyncratic method works, and what a world of hybrid thought will produce in our future.

Various & Gould. RABOTNIKI. Essay by Steven P. Harrington. Permanently Improvised. Editors Various & Gould. Published by seltmann+sohne. Berlin 2019.

The medium sized hardcover book features instructive and illustrative images of their collaged works placed illegally in the streets, created in studio, presented in the gallery, and in one case, Papier-mâchéd upon public sculptures of Marx and Engels. Intelligent, inquisitive, infused with riddles, the work is delivered with sincere scholarship and humor – even during the process of creation, public interaction, and mid degradation due to the natural elements.

Various & Gould. CITY SKINS. Essay by Jan Kage. Permanently Improvised. Editors Various & Gould. Published by seltmann+sohne. Berlin 2019.

Professor Young discusses V&G’s broken glass abstracts in the context of law reforms that have used the “broken glass theory” as excuse to demean and exploit targeted populations, and Phillip-Sohn looks at their recent bus-stop installation campaign called “Broken Screens” and he observes a fragile technology that, when shattered and inert, “makes us all too tragically aware of how dependent we’ve become on these devices.”

Various & Gould. FACE TIME. Essay by Toby Ashraf. Permanently Improvised. Editors Various & Gould. Published by seltmann+sohne. Berlin 2019.

Viewers get a greater appreciation of the tribe-like mentality humans possess just beneath the veneer of civility – the dry timber only waiting to be sparked into flame.  The “Wanted Witches” campaign placed 13 portraits of people who are framed as modern pioneers in respect to social issues. Painting them with phosphorus and encouraging you to light a match on them takes public interaction beyond the realms we’re familiar with. The carefully planned and executed installation on city streets powerfully presents the saint-like sacrifice of people who push ahead of us, sometimes burned at the stake as witches – whether literally or perhaps via a hostile media and politicized rhetoric.

Various & Gould. BROKEN WINDOWS. Essay by Alison Young. Permanently Improvised. Editors Various & Gould. Published by seltmann+sohne. Berlin 2019.

Up to their elbows in paste, ink, paper, and possibility, at the root of much of V&G’s work is an examination of identity; its malleability, its fluidity, even its perceived relevance in societal strata. The through-line in many projects is apparent in its meditation of our flexible selves: Identikit interchanges personalities and keywords to present tensions and examine associations. St. Nimmerlein mocks the arbitrary power of declaring sainthood with fictional personas who surely don’t deserve it. Face Time is a Dadaist study that combines the likenesses and features of many into implausible yet familiar glitch-humans. The aforementioned and early Rabotniki mixes and matches bodies, parts, genders, classes, and identities in a handmade heart-conscious way.

Spread over a decade and a half many of these projects overlap and recombine, creating and reflecting a global evolution we are undergoing- a convulsive re-examination of nearly everything and everyone. The question they may be asking is, “What is the sorting method we will use to recategorize our social and political groupings?”

Using techniques that are reassuringly un-digital, the stunning power of V&G’s mission, even if subliminal, is its intuitive ability to explain our current state. With subtle nods to robotics, androids, AI, identity politics and our innate human creativity, the duo cannily constructs the present and predicts the future, with a sense of humor that we are going to need.

Various & Gould. BROKEN SCREENS. Essay by Luis Muller Philipp-Shon. Permanently Improvised. Editors Various & Gould. Published by seltmann+sohne. Berlin 2019.
Various & Gould. SAINT NIMMERLEIN. Essay by Ilaria Hoppe. Permanently Improvised. Editors Various & Gould. Published by seltmann+sohne. Berlin 2019.
Various & Gould. WANTED WITCHES / WITCHES WANTED. Essay by Anne Wizorek. Permanently Improvised. Editors Various & Gould. Published by seltmann+sohne. Berlin 2019.
Various & Gould. IDENTIKIT. Essay by Mohamed Amjahid. Permanently Improvised. Editors Various & Gould. Published by seltmann+sohne. Berlin 2019.
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Various & Gould Spark a Witch Hunt on Streets of Berlin

Various & Gould Spark a Witch Hunt on Streets of Berlin

Witches are burned at the stake.  Or hanged, drowned, beheaded. Ask the American Puritans.

Of course, demonizing and ostracizing and terrorizing never quite went out of style since those formative years of the US, and the global history of the race is rife with this inclination. From Salem to today, ignorance and fear can be stirred rapidly into hysteria, usually by an invisible hand. In a tumultuous period of finger pointing and fear mongering that is often laced with latent prejudice, it is possible to whip people into a fevered frenzy of sanctimonious vigilante vitriol to purge that evil that resides amongst us, and within us.


Various & Gould. (photo © Various & Gould)

A riveting interactive witch hunt, complete with matches, candles, smart phones and QR codes, has just begun on the streets of Berlin – the creation of conceptual Street Artists Various & Gould.  Better yet, you know many of the 13 ‘witches’, as they are people from modern times who have suffered fates of being accused and depicted as evil.

“That these people might have been persecuted and burned as witches in earlier times is a mere speculation here,” say the two artists, whose project encourages you to strike a match across the face of their screen printed posters and light a candle at the base of it.  But whether or not these people would have been called witches in earlier days, there are other similarities V&G want to draw attention to. “They still have to fight for their ideas, their freedom, their dignity or in some cases even their lives today,” they say.


Various & Gould. Yoko Ono and Malala Yousafzai (photo © Various & Gould)

Who are you talking about, you ask? Edward Snowden is one – currently a polarizing figure for revealing the extent of spying the US is doing on world citizens and governments – is alternately spoken of as a folk hero and an evil traitor.

Yoko Ono is another – once vilified, now celebrated, for the very same violations in art and cultural orthodoxy. Also she broke up the Beatles singlehandedly for Christs sake. Also she’s a peace activist, so that is upsetting. Now widely considered to have been ahead of her time,  Ms. Ono once felt the firey public disdain for her so adamantly that she wrote and performed a song in the 1970s entitled “Yes, I’m a Witch”.

V&G even had a little luck reaching out to some of their witches for the project and got some responses. “Yoko Ono said that she was touched by our mail, but was having an important event elsewhere, which was no surprise,” says Various.

Also, performance artist Marina Abramović is a witch, as well as Antony Johnson and a Pussy Rioter. The reasons for selecting the witches who include journalists, rappers, human rights activists, artists…. may be obvious to some, perplexing for others. Their controversial status is the space of the public mind in which they each hang.


Various & Gould. Yoko Ono. (photo © Various & Gould)

Various explains, “In this respect, the witches series can be understood as a homage to the portrayed people and a reference to the intolerance of today’s apparently enlightened times.” Gould agrees, “Different-minded people are being scape-goated and demonized in the public just as they once were.”

Of the 13 witches you will see a variety of names and if you don’t recognize them you can use the QR code beneath it or go to the special website to read and hear audio giving biographical information in German and English.


Anne Wizorek, a feminist blogger and one of the portrayed witches will even be on hand to introduce the gallery show entitled “Witches Wanted – Wanted Witches” at Open Walls this evening.

Speaking of the installation and the reactions they have received to the witch hunt that spreads across the city, Various says they had been afraid of negative reactions but thus far there have been none. “Somehow we were afraid someone would maybe get our intention wrong or be mad … but so far reactions are good.”


 Various & Gould. Malala Yousafzai. (photo © Various & Gould)

In an increasingly polarized political atmosphere throughout the western world due to many factors, Gould says their imaginative project and execution of it hasn’t touched off controversy and has been really well received. “It was also very fulfilling for us to return to one of the portraits that we have in the street and to find some of the candles still burning!”

This witch-hunt in Berlin-Kreuzberg is not to be understood as a chase, but rather as an interactive scavenger hunt they say on, where you can see the map locations and follow the hunt.

You can also follow the hashtag #WitchHuntBerlin on Twitter.

The full list of people portrayed as witches includes Marina Abramović, Mae Azango, Ameneh Bahrami, Antony Hegarty, Le1f, Yoko Ono, Nawal El Saadawi, Edward Snowden, Aung San Suu Kyi, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Anne Wizorek, Lana Wachowski, and Malala Yousafzai.


 Various & Gould. Edward Snowden. (photo © Various & Gould)


 Various & Gould. Edward Snowden . Amenem Bahrami . Le1f  (photo © Various & Gould)


 Various & Gould. Le1f. (photo © Various & Gould)



 Various & Gould. Lana Wachowski. (photo © Various & Gould)


 Various & Gould. Mae Azango. (photo © Various & Gould)


 Various & Gould. Aung San Suu Kyi . (photo © Various & Gould)


 Various & Gould. Nadezhda Tolokonnikova. (photo © Various & Gould)


 Various & Gould. Nawal El Saadawi. (photo © Various & Gould)


 Various & Gould. (photo © Various & Gould)



 Various & Gould. (photo © Various & Gould)



Various & Gould “Witches Wanted – Wanted Witches” exhibition opens today in Berlin. Click HERE for more information.



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