Hosting her first exhibition in Venice, Italy, Anne talked to Katharina Joseph, a young art director who just realised her dream of opening up her own travelling fine art gallery named Kajo Collection. She told us about her collection, the ongoing exhibition of Birgit Wolfram’s series Schiller in Venice (until August 10th) and the happenings planned in Berlin, Düsseldorf and Amsterdam this year.
Katharina, at the age of only 23 you just opened up your own travelling fine art gallery. When did you have the idea of your own collection?
The idea of my own travelling fine art gallery evolved only a few months ago. I was working for a New York based art gallery, which sent me to several art fairs around the world, from London to LA, Mexico City to Miami and New York. By the time the work with the gallery was coming to an end I spent a few days at the Bahamas. Once the intensity of the past months vanished a moment of tranquility settled in and I used that moment to reflect on my life. While observing the power of the ocean and nature, my creativity and imagination unfolded in an unprecedented manner and a deeply rooted feeling to create something meaningful surged to the surface. The journal that I always have with me reads: “I wander around in this world. The ocean’s breeze refreshes my mind and soul. I’m reflecting on life, the past, the present and the moment I’m in — living with the great uncertainty of the future.” On that day I also wrote a poem on the intuitive feeling to create and numerous ideas floated in my mind. One of them was Kajo Collection.
“I wander around in this world. The ocean’s breeze refreshes my mind and soul. I’m reflecting on life, the past, the present and the moment I’m in — living with the great uncertainty of the future.”
What exactly is a travelling art gallery?
Our gallery constantly circles the globe to expose artworks of contemporary artists, who without support struggle to position themselves in a highly competitive art world. Our mission is to provide exhibition spaces around the world to promote our artists and stimulate society’s need for artistic creations. By doing so we aim to redefine the concept of space. For instance, we team up with existing galleries, however also enrich spaces, which usually aren’t used for exhibitions. It allows us to make art more accessible. We are also building up the concept of an Art Ambassador who establishes relationships with art institutions in the city he or she lives in to connect people through the arts. Hence, the travelling art gallery is a young and dynamic response to existing structures of the art market.
What were the biggest obstacles during your project?
After the idea was born and I left the Bahamas, I nurtured my thoughts and aimed to structure them. Two weeks had passed and I accidentally run into Birgit Wolfram in New York City. We knew each other from high school, but never physically met. She is a phenomenal artist whose point of departure arises from the desire to create a fictional romance, portrayed in a documentary fashion. During my work at several art fairs I haven’t seen anything like her works. I instantly fell in love with her paintings. We felt a connection and envisioned working together. I was about to leave New York two days later. Once, I returned back to Germany I shared the idea with my closest friends and family. Everyone was fascinated by the project and very supportive. Soon we decided to debut with the first exhibition in Venice featuring Birgit Wolfram’s series Schiller. Since the beginning of the project I contribute my entire time and energy to it. On the one hand following my passion and being able to work independently is extremely fulfilling. On the other hand, I face a great amount of uncertainties, responsibilities and everyday unexpected obstacles are occurring. However, thanks to a strong and very personal team behind the gallery, we always support each other unconditionally and find solutions for the challenges we encounter.
How did your love for art arise?
My fascination and love for art and artists developed throughout my childhood. I’m fascinated by the way artists observe the world beyond and beneath appearances and the methods they find to aesthetically represent reality. Further, I’m referring to scholar Klamer who once said: “Art has to be experienced as such; the experience might be an aesthetic one but is not necessarily that. Art also happens in the sensation of a problem, that is, a problem of meaning. In either case art exists not in the physical form of a painting or performance, but in the moment of wonderment, of the question-mark that the physical form evokes in our mind”. I love art because I believe it is incredible how it evokes thoughts and emotions. I am always pleasantly surprised by the impact an artwork has on the well being of our minds or the emotional journey it takes us on.
How do you find the artists?
In this case embracing life’s coincidences and the circles we live in become apparent. Through magnificent coincidences most of the collaborations with artists have evolved organically. I either was fascinated by an artwork and fortunately got to know the artist or some of the artists approached me because they found out about Kajo Collection through acquaintances or online. I feel very grateful that we all have a very personal relationship and being able to engage into dialogues with the artists is very meaningful to me as everyone inspires me on a daily basis.
“Art has to be experienced as such; the experience might be an aesthetic one but is not necessarily that. Art also happens in the sensation of a problem, that is, a problem of meaning. In either case art exists not in the physical form of a painting or performance, but in the moment of wonderment, of the question-mark that the physical form evokes in our mind”
Who is part of the team?
We are a rather small team, which organically evolved through fortunate coincidences life has offered to me. There is Jakob Meinert, Director of Communications, happened to sit next to me during a flight from Washington, DC to Frankfurt four years ago. We couldn’t stop talking within the blink of an eye we arrived in Germany. Years passed and Jakob followed the development of Kajo Collection and shared his enthusiasm towards the idea. He lived around the world and gained incredible experience in the field of communications, hence I am very happy to have him on board. Throughout my studies in Maastricht I got to know Anisoara Hüttemman, my Personal Assistant and Nikolaus Widmann, Director of Business Excellence, as we were all engaged with the United Nations Student Association we already worked on multiple cultural and art related events and felt the need to continue realizing international projects.
Tell us a little bit about yourself!
To me life is a wonder, a blossom, it is simply magical. I believe that we live in reoccurring circles. Therefore our communities are already somehow connected. My endless curiosity to discover undiscovered places, encourages me to constantly build connections and intercultural exchange networks. For me the most valuable moments in life are the times you instantly connect with someone due to shared interests, similar perceptions or the appreciation of thoughts. The magic of connectivity brings us forward in life because once we share a similar interest we unlock our creativity and imagination. Embracing people who cross my path, listening to their stories and building up profound conversations fills me with happiness, energy and positivity. My friends associate me with these characteristics and often call me a social engineer. My greatest inspirations are the dialogues I engage in, literature on art, philosophy and poetry, as well as the manifestation of my own thoughts as it is the most liberating feeling there is. I love moments of endless laughter, enigma and wonderment. Moments when time becomes endless which happens to me while dancing, surfing, diving or mountain-biking.
What motivates you?
I mostly let my intuition guide me throughout the day and the sphere of floating thoughts I engage with. The moments of wonderment and magic that I embrace. Emotions and signs, which remind me of something or make me wonder highly motivate me.
Where do your see your collection in five to ten years?
We are currently establishing an international network of Art Ambassadors who build up relationships with artists and art institutions in the city they are based in. So far Kajo Collection’s Art Ambassadors are present in Mexico City, Wellington, New York City, Rom and Amsterdam amongst other cities. Within five to ten years I envision that our Art Ambassadors realize Kajo Collection Happenings around the world to expose our artists and engage into a dialogue. We hope to find institutions to team up with beyond any borders to spread one language we all speak – the mutual appreciation for the arts.
For our readers – what shouldn’t be missed this year?
The next Happening will take place in Berlin. A discourse on familiar appreciations and valued customs. Our curiosity to explore undiscovered places. The impulse and drive towards change and continuance. The limitations towards the development of a self-determined identity. An exploration of the outer and inner self, of our expectations. Who determines our identity? The diversity of perspectives to respond to these questions will be shown in the group exhibition Identity opening on August 7th 2015 in Berlin. The artists of Kajo Collection will be exhibited at Mojavari Gallery. We invite our audience to discuss the topic of identity with our artists and engage into a dialogue with them. Also in August Birgit Wolfram’s series Lichteinfälle will open in Venice, Italy.
SAVE THE DATE!
Friday, August 7th 2015, 7pm
Opening of Kajo Collection’s “Identity”
Mojavari Gallery, Berlin