Galerie Fons Welters - Amsterdam

PRE-SALE /virgin/waste/renewable

David Jablonowksi in conversation with Jeanette Bisschops

JB: I thought an interesting place to start would be with the basics. Other people may describe you in a myriad of ways, but who would you say you are?

DJ: I’m a German-born sculptor living in the Netherlands. I make sculptural installations, and I’ve been working with the widest range of materials, where the communicative quality of the sculpture has been my main focus since 2009. 

JB: And what is it that you would say you do?

Seeing, analyzing, prioritizing and making, and all this at the same time.

JB: You’ve described how your solo shows usually feel like doing a group show with yourself. This show is different, how did this presentation evolve?

DJ: In this exhibition, I wanted to focus on a limitation of materials having a strong interwoven habitat in meaning and background. Within the works, there’s a time difference of 18 million years of natural and cultural development, natural processes and human made innovation progress. For the first time, together with the previous show at SpazioA gallery in Italy, I felt like focusing on a minimal amount of material and I didn’t want to overwhelm the viewers with information and a variety of angles. That can come back into my work later again. 

JB: How do you plan your installations? Are they intended to read as planned compositions or choreographies, or are they more intuitive?

DJ: Both! My installations, they have to be composed, but they also respond to their surrounding environments. In this case I knew the approximate number and sizes of objects needed to show the internal variety of the works. But I then placed them playfully within the space. 

JB: This show is called PRE-SALE /virgin/waste/renewable. The exhibition title seems very important to understand and describe your work, especially when presented in a commercial gallery. What about the idea of ‘sale’ fascinates you?

DJ: The title PRE-SALE relates to the commercial cycle of for example the fashion industry, that actually stands perpendicular on the basic contract of art, which gains possible extra value by speculation, aging and conservation. As the show opens on the 2nd of June, and the summer hasn’t started yet, it’s a pre-sale. The show at SpazioA gallery opened on the 14th of January, and fell into the winter sale cycle. But it was also through earlier titles which refer to outdating phenomena, as well as innovation and prospects. Like the Gartner Hype Cycle theory, for example. 

JB: Your sculptures connect with material from your native Ruhr district, in Germany. Your origins seem to play an important role in the way you’ve imagined your work and your role as an artist and a storyteller. After this many years in Amsterdam, do you still feel this way?

DJ: The longer I’ve been away, the more I’ve become aware of my heritage and early thoughts and processes. In relation to material, economic growth and decline, and sociological impact on its surrounding. The Ruhr area was all about mining coal, and besides the environmental impacts, I saw the decline of these industries with my own eyes. At the same time, history didn’t end there. What the Germans call Strukturwandel – or structural change – was, or is, nothing else than investing in a gigantic experiment of stimulation, innovation and political decision making as well as will power, that had a deep impact on me. 

JB: There’s a long history of conserving art works, keeping them alive and preserving them for the future. What do you think will be the meaning and importance of conserving art works in the future? Could you ever imagine your works to be allowed to ‘die’ and be recycled, just like the materials you’ve been working with?

DJ: Actually all the recent works are recyclable. That’s why the object connections are only glued if absolutely needed. The last installation I made in public space, in Germany, in Dortmund in the Ruhr area, is also wearing a QR code. Deciphering the material passport for future recycling. So yes, depending on their condition, they can be smashed and recycled. Additionally, they are made from consumer waste or recycled waste materials, from Amsterdam and Rotterdam, only added with a little bit of virgin materials like the color pigments. That’s also how the subtitle of the show found its inspiration. 

David Jablonowski (1982, Bochem, DE) lives and works in the Netherlands. Solo exhibitions include: Centraal Museum, Utrecht (NL, 2019), Kunsthalle Baden-Baden (De, 2017), Kunsthalle Lingen (DE, 2015), Kunstmuseum Den Haag (NL, 2013), Baltic Gateshead (UK, 2013), Westfälischer Kunstverein (DE, 2012), Dallas Contemporary (USA, 2011), Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam (NL, 2010). Jablonowski’s work is part of the collections of a.o. Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam (NL), Kunstmuseum Den Haag (NL), LWL Landesmuseum, Münster (DE), BundesKunstsammlung (DE).