INTERVIEW WITH MISS GLUENIVERSE UND JOANNA WIETECKA
- March 31, 2022
In October 2021, the artists Miss Glueniverse and Joanna Wietecka designed a 14-meter-long Community Wall in Frobenstraße/ Berlin Schöneberg, not far from the URBAN NATION Museum. Despite some difficulties caused by Corona, we passed on some questions to them. In their answers, they talk about the origins of their creative work, reflect on the longing for home, and think about further collaborations.
Joanna, you first became artistically active in your home country Poland. Can you tell us more about your beginnings there?
There are no official records of my birth, but I myself strongly assume that I came into the world with pens or similar utensils. Even as a toddler I felt the urge to paint everything possible. I often distanced myself from age-typical games, preferring instead to use wax crayons to beautify the half-asphalted village street in front of the house or to color the black-and-white family photos with the help of felt-tip pens. Later, in my teens, everything escalated a bit more. Inspired by my circle of friends, I began to steer my artistic madness towards street art and hip-hop. Freight trains, benches, walls, furniture, clothes… Little was spared from my amateur tags and simple stencils back then. I also felt at home in the local rap scene and could continue to celebrate the love for poetry in this way, which goes back to childhood.
Despite a lot of well-intentioned advice to “finally do something with it”, it took a whole 21 years until I was ready to study art. There I got to know myself above all: a person much too impatient for oil paints, but enthusiastic about nudes and photography.
Later you moved to Berlin. How did your art change with the move to the big city?
I already had several encounters with the capital before I moved to Berlin. Again and again I roamed the streets of Berlin during my summer vacations and took a deep dive into the diversity of urban art. Both seemed so natural and made for each other. An extremely successful coexistence. I captured a lot of it by taking photos, in the 90s. Later I looked at them with my Polish friends. For us, it was like an excursion into the world of infinite possibilities, a great source of inspiration and certainly an incentive to become better.
The numerous museums and galleries also made their contribution to my further development. I soaked up everything like a sponge and turned this energy, boosted by aesthetic experience, into a desire to create. When Berlin slowly became my second home in 2007, I was lucky enough to meet people who didn’t allow my creative streak to stop beating despite a few stumbling blocks. In that sense, it’s not Berlin per se, but the mix of “WHO, HOW, WHAT” that is responsible for what I do and who I have become.
Miss Glueniverse, you are originally from Austria. How and when did you end up in Berlin?
I grew up in Austria in an idyllic valley. What brought me to Berlin in 1999 was a mixture of adventurousness, rural escape, youthful recklessness, but also a detachment and liberation from narrow structures. This step was essential for both my personal and my artistic development.
Is there anything from your home country that you particularly miss and can’t find in Berlin?
What I really miss in Berlin are the high mountains and the physical as well as meditative experience of climbing a peak. The conscious experience of approaching a goal step by step and the liberating feeling of seeing far. However, I have taken this internalized image with me to Berlin and it helps me to focus on my goals and to look at certain situations from a different perspective.
The medium you both work in is collage. Can you tell us more about your working process? What inspires you, and how did you come to collage?
That I finally compress my creativity in analog collages is also thanks to Berlin. A chance visit to a furniture design studio (2016) and an exceptionally high heart rate while looking at the collages hanging there, and the great love was there! Similar to this encounter is my working process: starting from an impulse.
I rarely work on concrete themes. I much more enjoy leafing through magazines and letting myself be visually captivated by a motif. This then becomes the foundation of the collage. All the elements that find their place in the composition one after the other are in some way subordinate to the “chosen” triangle. This can determine, for example, the color scheme or the lines. This harmonious continuity is particularly important to me in the design of the collage. I would perhaps compare it with life in a community, where everyone makes a contribution to the successful togetherness.
The process has several levels for me: the material (the precise cutting and fitting of the triangles), the visual (creating from several details a new object that is visually perceived as a unit) and the ego level (recognizing and reflecting on my own perception and aesthetics, escaping reality, meditation, processing).
I draw inspiration for my works from experience (life). So, among others, some collage series, a search for answers (e.g. “Nonverbality”) or a response to a random conversation (“Ugly eyes”). Basically, much of what triggers strong emotions in me will probably end up as a collage. And if this medium is not enough, a poem will be added on top.
Street art and urban art have always been extremely appealing to me, which is why I started capturing the sometimes ephemeral art photographically in Berlin. The street and the many museums in Berlin, especially the URBAN NATION, inspired me a lot and encouraged me to actively dive into the street art scene in 2018.
Collage has been a medium for my artistic expression for quite some time. Breaking down existing structures in order to reconstruct them according to my own sensibilities is not only an artistic process for me, but in an analogous sense also stands for empowerment in shaping one’s own life. In this respect, my art is also very colorful, lively, always a little cheeky and mainly characterized by positive vibes.
Joanna, which current trends and developments within (urban) art fascinate and inspire you in particular?
Murals are for me an unimaginable sign of the organization, planning and physical effort that must be present in addition to artistic talent to realize such formats. For me, an almost superhuman feat.
I also find works that change dimension either through the skillful use of perspective and color design or NFC/RFID technology spectacular (peeta ead, Bond Truluv).
In the collage field, I appreciate surprising like details, minimalism… In a nutshell: thoughtful innovations that positively surprise me with their modesty.
The Berlin street art scene also lives from the community and a sense of community, which is what URBAN NATION is also committed to. Also with this wall you came together to create something together. Miss Glueniverse, how important are collaborations for you, and is there anyone with whom you would like to realize a joint project?
Networking, collaboration and exchange with other artists are very important to me. Apart from the fact that it is wonderful to be part of a community, the opportunity in collaborating with other artists is to inspire each other, develop ideas, share skills and expand horizons.
Whom I admire a lot is the French photographer, collage and street art artist JR. Especially the social aspect in his work inspires me. But I would also love to watch him and his team gluing his gigantic paste-ups.
Another inspiration for me is the New York collage and street art artist Dain. I really like his colors and the street style in his collages. I’m always open to collaborations and the design of the community walls for the URBAN NATION is proof that something beautiful can be the result.
Interview: Nicola E. Petek
photos: Sebastian Kläbsch (Berlin Artcore)