The German artist Felix Kiessling wishes to expand the human notion of spatiality and boundaries through his artworks. Linda Post met Felix Kiessling at his recent show Tür und Stern in the Alexander Levy Gallery in Berlin to talk about his work.
– By Linda Post

As you entered the exhibition space in the Alexander Levy Gallery where Felix Kiessling recently exhibited the show Tür und Stern you were greeted by an enormous aluminium star measuring approximately 12 x 12 x 12 meters. The fragile frame of the star penetrated both in a literal sense and conceptual sense the room’s physical boundaries by piercing through the gallery’s walls, windows and ceiling.

Photo: Felix Kiessling working on the piece Tief ins Herz, © Johannes Foerster

Through the deconstruction of the conventional gallery space Kiessling is referring to the way human beings construct their surrounding spaces to be able to exist, understand and communicate the world they embody in regards to spatiality, direction and orientation.

Photo: The star as it was shown in the Alexander Levy Gallery, © Johannes Foerster

The young artist is on a Merleau-Ponty-ian quest to re-sensitize his audience through his abstract and minimal artworks, wishing to make his participant aware of the phenomenological intentional mechanisms that you as a human being practices and uses every day. The crooked directions and orientation of the star while piercing through the space in which it’s placed is a way of pushing the human being’s inherent understanding of space, boundaries and how we navigate these in order to move and perceive our surroundings.

What kind of aesthetic experience do you want your participant to have when they go to one of your shows?

First of all I’m not in a position to teach anything to anybody, I’m not a dogmatic artist if you want. What I hope to provide is some sort of experience with space or with your self as a human being standing on this planet earth.
You cant tell anybody how to behave anyway because everybody will behave according to their own will, but what I can provide as an artist is some sort of experience that re-sensitizes you – maybe – for who you are in a very abstract way.

And again you can also experience the works in a naive phenomenological way by simply experience the sense of dizzyness when you perceiving the star as a weird object in weird or non-parallel angle to the architecture.
By having this experience and realising that a lot of the things you experience is a construction. By not showing objects where it is impossible to distance yourself from the objects, then you may also realise that everything is much more organic and fluent and this could possibly change your perception of a another human being and your behaviour in this world.


Photo: The SETI as shown in the Le Trac exhibition at 48Stunden Neukölln, © Johannes Foerster

The SETI piece is that an exploration of how sound can be restricted or expanded or a way of playing with conventional boundaries of auditory limitation and expansion?

Yes in the bigger scope, – it started as a humorous approach to something I read in the newspapers about the actual SETI project. SETI derives from Searching for Extraterrestrial Intelligence. It’s a multi million dollar project. Worldwide it consists of a group of scientist who’s looking for extraterrestrial civilisations. They do that by setting up a massive radio telescope and then they simply scan and send radio signals into outerspace.

Photo: Sketch of the SETI piece

Basically it has run for 50 years and they haven’t captured anything apart from noise, that they cant make sense of. This I find quite funny. This result should show them that they might have the wrong approach for finding anything. The civilisation or whatever is out there might not be constructed in the same way as we are.

To me the SETI project is a very subjective way of treating reality. I mean any information deriving from such intelligence might be incomprehensible because the data amount is insignificantly small or the total opposite intangible large. Imagine it happening on the smallest possible scale, equally to a particle size then the data would pass the telescope unnoticed. Or the data might be so enormous, that we stand right within the information without realising it. If you think about it at an atomic level there would be a planet with intelligence searching for intelligence, this atom would be a part of our world but is in no way able to grasp this fact. It had the ability to observe and register other atoms, the darkness in outerspace and shining weird clusters of stars and so on but it wouldn’t be able to comprehend OUR MESOSCOPIC world. Ultimately this SETI piece is about scale, dimension and their reality.
The SETI piece reduces you to yourself, to your own sounds.  Maybe it gets you to look into the smaller details, rather than the big scope of the universe.
Of course you wont find any aliens, if you’re in there but maybe you get a chance to reflect on yourself. If you’re in there long enough, you are able to hear blood or you start to hear noises that are descendents from sounds you’re not able to perceive.
The SETI piece can be understood as a potential space where the participant hopefully gets the chance to reflect on how he or she constructs reality and also how this construction is a form of limitation of the objective reality that lies underneath.

About the artist
Felix Kiessling is currently studying at die Universität der Künste in Berlin under professor Olafur Eliasson in the Institut für Raumexperimente. Kiessling did a number a group shows and most recently the solo-show Tür und Stern in Gallery Alexander Levy.
Website: www.felixkiessling.net

The author
Linda Post holds holds a master degree in nordic linguistic and media art from the University of Copenhagen and is co-founder of the blog www.welldonedaphne.com. She`s especially interested in the phenomenological aspects and qualities of aesthetic experiences.

All photos by Johannes Foerster: www.johannesfoerster.com