Ben Greber

1979
LA PAROLE AUX ARTISTES #4 — BEN GREBER
“I think what interests me in working with found object or remains, is trying to get a glimpse into society from the outside that I can’t get through anything else. For me, the form of presentation is not so much about value, but about imposing a point of view: what is being looked at and what is seen as important?”
Through his fascination with basic human needs and how they are defined by an increasingly technologised world of things, artist BEN GREBER has started creating a series of sculptures that entangle this topic. By decontextualising and reconstructing objects, he creates industrial sculptures that share his thoughts on the contemporary digitisation processes in our society. He is now developing a new series of works for his upcoming solo exhibition at Konsthal Esch opening October 2023, that continue to address these themes but also translate the concept of evacuations as a sculptural form.
SARIE NIJBOER: In your work, you address the increasing de-objectification of our environment, which is expressed in your work through the recomposition and decontextualisation of objects. Can you explain this approach in more detail?
BEN GREBER: I believe that we are living in a time where everything is becoming less visible or one could say more invisible. That is the most exciting subject/topic I am interested to work on at the moment. I am fascinated about basic human needs and how they are determined by an increasingly technologized world of things. The decision to work with recomposition and decontextualisation of objects has to do with the evolvement of my work and how it has changed over the years. In the beginning of my practice, I made technical objects out of cardboard, the purpose and idea was visible in these objects. It was about function – why an object is made and for what purpose – that I tried to turn that outward. While working on these works I realized that the connection to our environment has become more and more invisible, we somehow have lost the relationship to the world of things. So instead of showcasing the object as they are I choose to took the objects all apart and abstracted them to intensify this idea of “de-objectiviation”, as a way of documentation. The theme of modernity is here not so much an abstraction, but rather a process of de-objectification in the sense of digitisation, a process that, on a broader level, contributes to us losing our connection to the world we live in.
SN: Your artworks also reflect on themes such as memory, perception, transience or increasing digitalisation and technical optimisation. What inspires you about working with these themes?
BG: I’m not really interested in those themes as an individual element, but more how they become the triggers for de-objectification. People keep telling me that there is something archaeological about my work, a preoccupation with something that has passed. I am interested in reading and making visible of traces (e.g. digitalisation, progress and technologization of things) and how it influences today’s discourse. It’s more about what it means now.
SN: Through your way of presentation, found objects and/or architectural remains placed in boxes or vitrines, your work is inherently engaged with a shift in the value of the object. How do you deal with this question of value in your work?
BG: I think what interests me in working with found object or remains, is trying to get a glimpse into society from the outside that I can’t get through anything else. For me, the form of presentation is not so much about value, but about imposing a point of view: what is being looked at and what is seen as important? I am inspired by the religious form of presentation of objects, such as relics. What I find so interesting about this form of presentation is that it is actually about controlling the perspective and conveying and asserting the value in a convincing way.
I call these archives and boxes, screens, it’s actually like a display screen. It is a reflection on todays digitalisation of things, and how we perceive the world through our screens. For example, look at the conspiracy theories, everyone gets a platform, everyone is disoriented, no reference to real connections, real mechanisms, everything is such a fantasy. Through digitalisation one can feel like you are getting information but understanding less and less.
SN: You recently moved out of Berlin, to a village in Brandenburg. Has it changed the way you work and the topics that interest you?
BG: I grew up in a village, but lived in cities for a long time, now I am back to where I feel most comfortable. It’s true that here I can focus on my work in a different way. Berlin interests me a lot, but I didn’t feel comfortable there. This moving in and out of the city is important for me, to distance myself. I am now working on a second piece “Evacuation”, which is about my leaving Berlin. Among other things, about how I experienced my surroundings when I lived in Berlin. If something happened, and I witnessed it, and then watched the news, it becomes irrelevant when so many others saw it. You see it again as society. My studio is now a 3-minute walk away, I feel like I’m going to work. I don’t see this very simple trivial context in Berlin, the distances are much harder, ultimately it distracts me. It’s not the city’s fault, it’s just that I’m human.
(November 2022)

Biography

BEN GREBER (*1979) deals in his sculptural artworks with de-objectification and the associated increasing invisibility of all processes and contexts that sustain life and society as an essential feature of our time. Combining materials such as acrylic glass, cardboard and stainless steel, Greber reflects on themes such as architectural remnants of human intervention in the utilitarian landscape, whereby the objects can be viewed as fragments.
Greber is currently working on his “Evacuations” cycle, which began in 2018 with a series of works related to the landscape of his childhood in rural Münsterland. Since the beginning of the year, he has been working on a new cycle that concludes his stay in Berlin — he unfortunately had to leave his studio last December. Combining metal constructions containing plastic casts of singular objects that the artist discovered in the vicinity of his studio, located right next to LAGE EGAL, with laser cut-outs (similar to the “Skylinked” series) of images selected from Instagram, whose geographical tag is the surrounding area of Greifswalder Str.
End 2023 Ben Greber will return to Luxembourg for a major presentation of his work at the Konschthal Esch, at the invitation of Christian Mosar.

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