Lutz Henke | Cultural Scientist and Curator
Lutz is a man of little words and lots of knowledge, as they say ‘A still tongue, keeps a wise head’... or something like that. To this day I don’t know exactly what it means to be a cultural scientist and curator but my trade with Lutz was full of diverse experiences. He is also the man to talk to when curious about art during World War II and especially stories of the Berlin Wall.
The Pixel Trade was primarily to photograph the building that his office sits snugly in, an old grain silo where soldiers used to store grains in fear of not having enough food. Some would find parts of the building haunting but the curious would wonder about the stories and characters that moved within the walls. We also spent some time across the road in a vacant property that has become home for a group of cultures including Polish, Japanese and Germans. This little sanctuary they’re building is a tight community with their own laws of respect.
Interview with Lutz
Describe your most memorable adventure as a child.
Very general and in the very etymological sense of the word ad-venire: reaching new places which surprised and impressed me whether it was my grandmother‘s attic, a cabin in the woods or a secret basement hide-out.
What is the best part about living in Berlin?
There is a certain nostalgic, not to say melancholic, moment about living in Berlin. It is the city of perpetual lateness or as a friend has put it: „No matter when you come to Berlin you always have the feeling to be ten years late“. So for me growing up in the Berlin 90ies and being involved in shaping the „city without form“ after 2000 by making use of its free space with artists and experimenting was great. Tragically the city has squandered most of this metropolis-uncommon potential. So in the upcoming years of administering and institutionalizing this legacy the best part might be escaping from time to time. Still Berlin‘s gestalt-switch is a great feature.
What is one of the best things about working with artists?
It keeps you attentive and can be very rewarding. I am most interested in conceptual pieces and art which deals with „reality“ beyond the framework and conventions of institutions or disciplines. It is a way of alternatively - emotionally - approaching pressing questions your are interested in. Art can render things visible which are not perceivable in a merely cognitive approach. An artistic approach allows you to expand your conventional range of action and to overcome certain limitations, be it the corset of academic research, financial constraints of productivity or the „No Trespassing“ signs of a city. So mostly, I work with artists over a long period and we try to develop and realize new pieces. It‘s always an experiment and incredibly productive. And it is great to have a very condensed outcome of the process in the end, even if it is ephemeral and fleeting. Working with artist fosters your „sense of possibility“.
Has art changed the way you think?
Well, it depends heavily on your definition of „art“. The artists I work with or whose work (from all periods) I admire certainly have an influence on my perception. A lot of them escape the ivory tower of the art world and are concerned with the social sphere or public space. So this of course makes me apply a certain conceptual „filter“ to daily life.
But there are also paintings or „phenomenological“ approaches which have an impact on me. However, as stated above, thinking implies reflection and a cognitive act. The beauty of art often is that it has an impact on a less rational but emotional layer before you actually start thinking.
What is one of the most dangerous times of your life?
If you could teach the world one thing, what would it be?
When was the last time you cried?
„Wait... ummm yeah... must be something in my eye...“
Technically last month while riding a motorcycle in Morocco without a helmet.
What is something you haven’t told anyone in a while now?
(Lutz deliberately left this blank).
Describe your most memorable adventure as an adult.
Reaching new places which surprise and impress me, whether it is a hidden tunnel in Berlin, an informal architecture, the Algerian desert or polar lights in Northern Norway.
If you had to recommend a favourite music album, what would it be?
I am an album-enthusiast and am listening them repeatedly to the utmost if they are well arranged and not a hit-single compilation. Making sure the „growers“ do not get lost in times of isolated electronic single track downloads. But it is hard to narrow it down to one favorite as context and situation are crucial. For example I really recommend „The Bay“ by Metronomy if you happen to drive down a curvy costal road at the French Riviera in a convertible.
Among the all time favorites: White Album by the Beatles, Astral Weeks by Van Morrison, Moment of Truth by Gangstarr, Deltron 3030, the American Recordings by Johnny Cash, Aftermath by the Stones, Desire by Bob Dylan, all albums by Ween, Jurassic 5, Dabrye, A Healthy Distrust by Sage Francis Sketches of Spain by Miles Davis, One Nation under a groove by Funcadelics, Nick Cave‘s Push the Sky Away, and the new Darkside album is great, too.