Kristine Alksne turns ephemeral urban grit into durable, emotionally evocative, sculptures. The Berlin-based Lativan artist and set-designer finds discarded books, carves into their overlooked pages, coats them in cement and presents the resulting topographical forms on stark metal and concrete plithes. “Displaced Fractures,” this series of redeemed but unread tomes, is a testiment to the myths, lived stories and opportunities for intellectual growth that create a city’s human substance. She uses concrete for an equally tender purpose with her “Assemblage” series of abstract sculptures inspired by techno music. For “Window” she transforms the cityspace with a massive sensually curved outdoor wood sculpture. The form frames the view and draws attention to Berlin’s changing sky-line but unique and consistent urban essence.
AFH: Tell me about how your algorithm determined the shapes representing techno for “Assemblage”?
KA: The algorithms were made using software that was especially created for this project by the talented Argentinian artist and programmer Emmanuel Pidre. The algorithms were produced as digital geometrical drawings. These formations ranged from being very complicated to being as simple as a cube. While creating them, I was thinking about the feeling that I had when I would go to Berghain, Berlin’s famous the music bunker. I used these memories as inspiration for specific forms. I related these forms to the passion evoked by the sounds that were captured in my memory.
AFH: How collaborative was your process with Pidre?
KA: We each chose our three favourite songs, constantly looping them like in meditation. Through this process, I was confronted with the loops of my own thoughts until I managed to reach a simple “clean“ line of thought which I envisioned as the form. The cemented form was the end result of that process. To me, the ambition of the work was to translate this feeling of memorized and cemented sound into a physical form. I wanted to transform sound into form, as my memory does to the sounds, when they enter my brain.
AFH: why use concrete for this project?
KA: Concrete symbolizes techno music to me because it is beautiful on the outside but empty inside. For me, concrete is a material closest to the experience of madness and euphoria. Berlin’s “concrete“ scene is where you can escape from the real world and then forget to come back home. I connected Berlin and “concrete,” as a material that defined the “concrete“ space, “concrete” city, “concrete” society and cemented memories.
AFH: What were your aspirations with your site-specific “window project”? How did that shape come about?
KA: I was asked to make in collaboration with a wood artisan a site-specific project. We were working together for clients who where inspired by the architect Gaudi’s art. It was a very challenging point for me. This window project demanded almost a year of constant work. It will be ready this spring and visible in Rozentaler Platz in Berlin. I spent many days studying and copying Gaudi’s architectural lines. At same time, I was studying contemporary American abstract paintings and observing the butterfly geometries in those artworks. Every atelier corner that I saw was fulfilled with those line drawings and solutions. It was challenging to juxtapose the big master towards a butterfly. In the end, I decided to follow the client’s rules, but combined them with today’s art forms.
AFH: How do your collages relate aesthetically and conceptually to your sculptures?
KA: My collages are my constant laboratory for finding and experimenting with the best ideas for me. I only use books that were abandoned on the street and I deconstruct them until their shapes are unrecognizable. That is how they became independent figures from the original past. Collages are like my refresh shower after my days dealing with Berlin “concrete.”
AFH: Do you find your works solemn? Or, do you have a different emotional interpretation?
KA: Actually, I was always attracted by ironic comedy solutions. Jokes, especially nonsensical jokes, inspire me. But my working and thinking process is solemn. The final physical work conveys my solemn state. And your question makes me think about our associations with minimal art. What is the borderline between a simple philosophical concept and a provocative nonsense gesture.