On a sunny friday afternoon I find myself in a lively street in the center part of Prenzlauer Berg in Berlin. The Dutch musician Rik Spann and today’s interview partner Stephen Nachmanovitch are at my side. Stephen came here to give one of his popular improvisation workshops. Rik and I are two of the participants. None of us know that area of Berlin so we decide to go to an Italian restaurant just a few steps away; artists need to eat as well.
Michael Spencer played for 14 years with the London Symphony Orchestra, before he decided to give up his career as a professional musician and become an education director at the Royal Opera House. In this job, he started to look at how he could give children a better understanding of arts, or the artistic processes. Nowadays, as a coach and consultant, he is basically doing the same thing. The difference being that he shares his experience primarily with adults in organizations and he has created a close connection to Japan and the people living there.
“I never thought of doing something else than music”. Truly passionate about music and raised in an artistic environment, Lubnan Baalbaki started by studying violin at the national conservatory of Lebanon, before pursuing musicology studies in Lebanon at the Saint-Esprit Université with the aim to become a conductor.
The opportunity to reach his goal appeared when he travelled to Romania and met Petre Sbârcea, a maestro who would be his first teacher and mentor.
Artist and author Johannes Stüttgen studied at Düsseldorf’s art academy as one of Joseph Beuys star pupils. “It was him who instilled my interest in the concept of art”, admits Stüttgen before elaborating with ease on the decades that have passed since his graduation. “Essentially, you (Age of Artists) are striving for something similar. You are not searching for single artistic particularities, but a paramount concept of art.” By establishing the extended concept of art – the idea that artistic practice is not exclusive to art itself, but applicable to a range of disciplines – Joseph Beuys and Johannes Stüttgen became pioneers of a movement which refused to understand art solely as a physical artwork.
After a one and a half hour drive by car from Beijing’s city centre to the south the many skyscrapers and blocks begin to clear. The end of the city isn’t reached, but instead another micro cosmos which is not part of the everyday life in the Chinese capital: Abandoned, decayed buildings and curious looks mark the way to the artist Dai Chenlian. His studio lays in this remote part of the city where proper administration by the government doesn’t exist anymore.
Hans-Jörg Rheinberger is a scientific historian. He not only has a humanistic background in sociology, philosophy, and linguistics, but also a life science background in biology and chemistry. Since adolescence, he has been writing poems and essays. From 1997 to 2014, he was director at Berlin’s Max-Planck-Institute for the History of Science.
In his research, Rheinberger mostly occupies himself with the nature of the experiment and experimental systems, a term he coined for configurations which contain uncertainty, unpredictability and the state of not knowing, “One has to look at them as places of emergence, as structures that have arisen from the development of the sciences in order to discover the unimaginable.
In one of the most popular art districts in the East of Beijing, photographer Zhang Wei invites me into his stylish studio in a dark backyard. The neighborhood seems central and lively, even though we are at least two hours from the city centre. Zhang Wei has the view of someone who has seen quite a lot of things in life. He speaks quietly and thoughtfully.
On his walls hang world famous people depicted in perfect photographs.
SAFI is a musician and eponym of the same-named band; the band’s work can be identified somewhere between punk and poetry. After a graphic design education in Halle and Leipzig, and various jobs in that area, SAFI’s dream to become a full time musician became more urgent and she decided to concentrate on that genre while continuing to work as a graphic designer.
Because of her concerts and meetings with clients far away from her hometown of Berlin, she told us that to “work on the fly” is one part of the creative process.
“I think, that people can learn empathy through dance”, dancer Lucija Mikas said. She began her dance career at the age of eleven at the John Cranko School in Stuttgart and quit her classic ballet education there, after four years of hard training. What she learned during this strict dance lessons, confirms established clichés as she says “Discipline is definitely necessary, because classic ballet is on the same level with ice skating and gymnastics.