GALERIE MOLLINÉ: But then you’re creating something out of the future.
ETAGE: Actually, we strive to reach a state of timelessness. We aren’t trying to create a picture of the future. We don’t claim to show the public what the future is going to look like. Not at all. What we’re interested in is the cross-linkage of time.
ETAGE: Of course it raises further questions, that is clear. But I find questions more important than answers.
GALERIE MOLLINÉ: Are you trying to cancel out the way in which art is generally viewed and how it is interacted with?
ETAGE: It’s not about cancelling something out, but about the results that are created. There is a fundamental interest – that is the future – and the idea that there will be other artists after us, that the art world will continue to exist after we are gone. And the possibility to break out of this state of “being an artist” becomes much easier when you have an alter ego. We consider the whole thing as a game.
That also contradicts the whole idea of competitiveness. Actually it works the other way around. You need recognition in order to be appreciated and applauded.
GALERIE MOLLINÉ: An artist usually needs to develop a “trademark”, a unique feature with which she is recognized, in order to reach a higher level of success. However, within ETAGE, completely different works of art may arise to those which each of you make outside the group.
ETAGE: ETAGE and its members represent an extension of possibilities. So much more can be done. Of course, the conveying of an idea invites all kinds of other difficulties.
GALERIE MOLLINÉ: You’re widening the reference system, the way in which art is experienced, the way it is seen as being professional, future-oriented, trivial, etc. In the 19th century landscape painting was not taken seriously. If someone looked at a landscape painting in 1820, he would have questioned whether he was looking at a work of art or not. Today the reference system has altered and landscape painting is regarded as the most important art form of the 19th century. By trying to think about the future, one starts to loosen up the reference system.
ETAGE: And to challenge it, I might add. If you don’t take that extra step, then it only works to an extent, what we offer as “Denkspass” (“mind-fun”). Of course, it could be seen as being an imposition, but I’m happier when we’re able to get some viewers to derive pleasure out of it.
ETAGE: We had an exhibition in the Kunstverein “Gästezimmer” in Stuttgart. The exhibition was conceived as a “walk-in catalogue”. In each room, pages of a catalog with works by ETAGE artists covered the walls like wallpaper. Each catalog-wallpaper showed a reproduction, a caption with the year in the future in which the work will be created, the artist’s name, material and dimensions.
It was just like a catalogue, only in this case, it was a projection. As long as I haven’t seen an artwork in real life, it’s a projection. There’s the connection with that strange moment when you’ve been looking at catalog reproductions of a particular artwork in catalogs for 20 years and all of a sudden you see it in a museum, it’s finally right there in front of you. It’s real.
Often, in the art world, you only ever see an artwork in print or digital form. The idea that someone actually made the piece is simply accepted, because the name of the person is printed alongside the image, regardless of whether or not you’ve met this person before. So we work with that principle, insofar as we invent a person and create an artwork, only it takes place in the future. Additionally there’s the possibility that it doesn’t exist. We allow ourselves this freedom. History is made.
GALERIE MOLLINÉ: Yet with that idea, you’re presupposing that the art market will no longer exist in 100 years.