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Questionnaire: Joachim Koester

Do you believe in the existence of the soul? I believe in the existence of some kind of astral wildlife. I do not believe in the soul though.

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William Klein, Bronx River Bank: Auto Cemetery, 1954. Black and white photograph, 30 x 40 cm. Courtesy: Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York, and the artist.

William Klein, Bronx River Bank: Auto Cemetery, 1954. Black and white photograph, 30 x 40 cm.

What images keep you company in the space where you work?
In the studio I hang whatever I’m working on. But at my desk I mostly enjoy a blank wall. Occasionally I put up some images just for distraction. These days it’s a photo of a Marabou stork, and an image of Fordlandia, the overgrown Ford factory in the Amazon.

What music are you listening to?
DJ Sprinkles, Moritz von Oswald and Arthur Russell – all the disco stuff.

What are you reading?
Technologies of the Self (1988), a collection of essays on Michel Foucault’s last and unfinished project. The Place of Enchantment, British Occultism and the Culture of the Modern (2004) by Alex Owen. The Red Tree (2009) by Caitlin R. Kiernan, a trashy but innovative and, at times, well-written horror novel, obscured by the most awful book cover I’ve ever laid my eyes on.

What do wish you knew? 
Many more languages. 

What should change?
The notion of progress. If you could live with only one piece of art what would it be? An untitled Robert Smithson sculpture from 1964–5. It’s made of steel and red Perspex and is shaped like a diamond. There are so many ways to interact with this piece – so much to see and think about.

What could you imagine doing if you didn’t do what you do?
Something less stressful.

What do you like the look of?
Most of the subjects that I photograph are things and places that I want to look at more closely.

What should stay the same?
All the abandoned spaces. This is where the spirits of accident and chance are found. And we need them desperately to change history in better and surprising ways.

What is your favourite title of an art work? Some Los Angeles Apartments (1965) by Ed Ruscha.

What was the first piece of art that really mattered to you?
I was about 14 years old and I was going through a period when I had trouble sleeping. Late at night I would sometimes get out of bed and sneak down to the basement to watch TV with the sound turned off. One night I saw a film, which made an immense impression on me. Only years later did I find out that it was Macunaíma (1969) by Joaquim Pedro de Andrade. The film completely opened my young, sleep-deprived suburban mind.

Joachim Koester is an artist living in New York, USA, and Copenhagen, Denmark. This summer he had a solo show at Badischer Kunstverein in Karlsruhe, Germany (with Karl Holmqvist). Forthcoming solo exhibitions open at Galeri Nicolai Wallner in Copenhagen (12 November 2010) and Kestnergesellschaft in Hanover, Germany (26 November 2010). His work is included in the current São Paulo Biennial (until 12 December).

Issue 135

First published in Issue 135

Nov – Dec 2010
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