© 2020 – 2022. 2chairs artspace

A talk with Josephine Riemann

Hi Josephine, thank you for coming! You used to work as a biology teacher for more than 20 years. Why have you decided to leave school and focus entirely on art?

I longed for the intense feeling I had when I worked with all my might on art projects. My
children are grown up now: I saw the chance to return to that state. I have lived long enough between these two (or more) chairs.

Based on your teaching experience, can you imagine coming back to school as an art teacher? Why?

I enjoyed teaching in schools but cannot imagine returning to school. I have been doing this for so long. Sometimes I miss working with the energy of young people. So, I do not rule out starting projects with young people again one day.

What does it mean for you to be an artist?

It means to fly. And while I am doing that, one idea shows itself to me, and the next one is right below, next to it, above it, a little further, on the other side. I just have to pick it up and anchor it in reality.

Of course, it also means applying, preparing, organizing, maintaining my website, and working in workshops or factories to build my artwork.
Could you please describe your artistic practice? You're working with ready-mades, textiles, performances, etc. Why do you choose a certain medium? How do you come to the decision?

Yes, I work with ready-mades, but they are not finished in my eyes when I have found them. So, they are more like "objets trouvés". Often, they are starting points: I can feel the time and the (personal) history with which they are charged. This is an important difference from using pure material, not things, to compose works of art. I use this energy of used items to turn them into art. Often everyday objects catch my eye and lead me to a subject I am particularly interested in.

But the most important thing is to interweave my themes with the things, transform them, combine them, and make them into hybrids. And because the theme of the content is most important, the material follows.
2chairs artspace represents "Chair-Woman". Please tell us more about your artwork and the story behind it.

The fauteuil is Tarnkleid (Camouflage Dress), made in 1994 of crocheted wool buttons, and an original fauteuil of the 1970s. I or someone else can slip under the crocheted wool, sit in the chair, and wear the dress during a performance.

The idea is derivated from the toilet paper-roll-dolls, that were widely used in the 1970s/1980s in Europe. Many cars back then were well-equipped for certain eventualities: the roll of toilet paper in the rear window! But the rolls were usually well camouflaged under the self-crocheted skirt of a doll, which was tucked into the roll. At the same time, the roll was provided with the new function as a petticoat. So banal to disgusting quickly became pretty and decorative.

My crochet dress fulfils a similar dual task. The cover is also a woven, metamorphic cocoon. And indeed: the armchair (taken) from the street "have turned out something".

Here, my camouflage dress was combined with an armchair from my work Mehrzweckwohnen (Multipurpose Living). Mehrzweckwohnen (Multipurpose Living) is a four-part installation from 1992, in which silhouettes of a table and two chairs were cut from a used living room carpet and hung.

The decisive factor for this work was the examination of living environments of the 1970s
and 1980s. In those decades, interior design was typically space-saving. Instead of
individual pieces of furniture, cabinet-table beds were increasingly produced, sometimes
for pulling out or folding up individual functional units. At the same time, the quasi-
furniture in the work Mehrzweckwohnen (Multipurpose Living) also haunts living spaces as ghosts: for me, decades-old carpet stores both its function as a base for a table and
chairs, for example, and the feelings of the people living on it. An old carpet can remind of
a room and can store emotions. Here it gives them back.

In the 2chairs constellation, the installation/performance Chair-woman represents the past disruption in my life as an artist, teacher (and mother). My pride in the two paths I have taken is described the meaning of the word I have chosen as a title: "a chairwoman" is "a female chairperson of a political or economic body or a committee".

You're living and working between two cities. What does each city mean for you? What do you find in a such "between" life?

It seems, that I love to sit between chairs. "My" two cities are "home" (Vienna) and "Heimat"
(Berlin) for me. I need them both and welcome the change every month.

What are your ambitions as an artist?

Seeing art can give me a lot of fulfilment. For example, I loved being in Venice this year at
the Biennale. I hope that I can give some of that happiness back to the viewers with my art.

Thank you so much for talking!