We love supporting new talent. Every issue, we try to commission a few works from some of our favorite artists. We give them free rein of a full-spread; the only limitations are the generous dimensions of the page. For our Spring issue, Berlin-based Jens Ullrich sent over one of his graphic, iconic collages. Here’s what he had to say about it.
Berlin cult of the body.
A few centimeters below the plaster of a gigantic tile relief that presents socialist life in exuberant harmony, still marches a Nazi army, carved in dark granite. (Lobby of the Reich Air Ministry, which later became the House of Ministries in East Berlin—today it hosts the Federal Ministry of Finance.)
On gray, rainy days the modern world of color of this city flips back into the old black and white. One afternoon it was this atmosphere that enabled me to shoot photographs at the Olympic Stadium—seventy-five years after its construction—just like Leni Riefenstahl’s from 1936. For a whole lifetime the celebration of sports in the Olympic Stadium in Berlin has been producing the same breathtaking images: run faster, push off further, jump higher, fly…again and again producing new records in overcoming the inertia of the body in a race with the latest film and photographic technology.
For those sculptures posted around the stadium since 1936, any human emotion was prohibited. They were meant to be grown together with the ground they stood on and have since then been caught by the inert mass of their material as well as their fascistic spirit. Of the generation after the war, no one has managed to destroy this temple, including its demonic guardians, as happened often in history. Instead one tried to conquer the evil forefathers of this dubious place of worship in situ with a lot of peaceful and free competition. Their art, however, was banned with disregard, merely in words—apart from their harmless, traditional, slightly-clothed cult of the body, which, like everything else on the field, had been borrowed from even earlier ancestors. But that was not enough to successfully place them into a definite corner of aesthetic passivity! Berlin is full of these neglected sculptures, standing around in evil blankness. Unfortunately by this they mark the culmination of an entire genre of art, and you have to make their negative presence responsible for it. Because I love figurative sculpture, I forced them into symbolic reparations, by hustling their divided bodies into new action and by violating their authorship, so that free spirit, which is known to fly like a dove, can finally take possession of them.
Twilit (Flieger 77), for this edition of The Last Magazine, is my very special greeting to the sporting aces of New York.
—Jens Ullrich, 2012
Jens Ullrich is represented by Van Horn, Düsseldorf.