First scholarship holder of the “Artist in Residence” program on the Rosenhöhe in the Atelierhaus Ludwig-Engel-Weg 1 (LEW1) in Darmstadt

Valerie Wolf Gang (* 1990) – The first scholarship holder of the newly established “Artist in Residence” program on the Rosenhöhe in Darmstadt

Valerie Wolf Gang
First scholarship holder of the “Artist in Residence” program on the Rosenhöhe in the Atelierhaus Ludwig-Engel-Weg 1 (LEW1) in Darmstadt

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On the occasion of the »11. Darmstadt Photography Days «from April 24 to May 3, 2020 there will be a three-month artist’s residence for the first time from mid-February to mid-May 2020 in the LEW1 studio on Rosenhöhe in Darmstadt.

In December 2019, a jury selected the Slovenian multimedia artist Valerie Wolf Gang from a total of 66 international applicants as the first scholarship holder of the newly established »Artist in Residence« program.

The results of the residence stay will be kept in the studio house LEW1 for the entire duration of the »11. Darmstadt Days of Photography «from April 24 to May 3, 2020.

Valerie Wolf Gang – main focus and biography

Valerie Wolf Gang‘s works focus on the ideas behind human experiences such as aspects of consciousness and a reflection of social conflicts arising from political regulations and constraints. She mainly explores the relationship between man and technology, and is inspired by the connection between living and inanimate nature and the multifaceted nature of human character. Wolf Gang’s works are often
interactive and therefore create a site specific performance and interaction between the art piece and the observer.
She works as a multimedia artist, film director and transdisciplinary arts researcher, using different technologies and approaches to construct (interactive) installations, new media works and art films. Combination of digital components and physical materiality play an important role in her expression of the storytelling narrative. In her words “digital and material components represent the mind and the body, which need to be balanced in order to create a perfect harmony”. She is regularly working on different international artist-in-residence programs, where she researches and produces new projects inspired by local & international cultural scene (e.g. New York, Beijing, Singapore, Germany, Portugal, Luxembourg, Guinea-Bissau…).

Her work has been featured in various renowned international group and solo exhibitions, and she has received numerous international grants and awards. She is a member of international art collective Spielraum Ensamble, research unit Famul VideoLab, Directors Guild of Slovenia and represented by Collecting Society of Authors, Performers and Film Producers of Audiovisual Works of Slovenia. She is the founder of UV Arthouse, which is producing experimental films, video installations
and researching the field of new media technology and interactive multimedia works.

Besides her artistic practice and research, she lectures on contemporary art
practices, teaches film education in cooperation with different institutions, and is a Ph.D. candidate at Slovenian Academy of Science and Arts. Since 2018, she is a professional associate at The Institute for Fine Arts Vienna, collaborating with Academy of Fine Arts Vienna.

The artist’s work as part of the “Artist in Residence” program

Valerie Wolf Gang’s project as part of the “Artist in Residence” program from February to May 2020 is called “VANISHING ACT: body, space, identity”.

The work is inspired by various studies of astronauts’ psychological experiences in space, when they gaze back to Earth for the first time. During the era of NASA’s famous Apollo missions, over a dozen astronauts traveled to the moon, and many of them have spoken of the radically transformative experience that occurs when you are able to see earth from a new perspective. It suddenly seems so fragile when seen as nothing more than a small blue orb surrounded by the infinite vastness of space.

Artist Valerie Wolf Gang studied these experiences and compared them with her personal big life-changing event, where she recently completely transformed her body, lost more than 50 kg (100 lbs) and suddenly realized she does not recognize her own body anymore and thus needs to le-learn how to use it and construct new identity.

The case had a big impact on her life and she compares the experience with a complete vanishing act of herself; alien in her own body, re-learning process of the use of space and coping with new visual identity, which influences also the physical state of mind. Similarly, as part of the Apollo 14 mission, astronaut Edgar Mitchell spoke of having a deeply mystical moment when contemplating his home planet from the spaceship. He referred to it as a ‘savikalpa samadhi’, an Indian term that refers to the moment when your ego completely dissolves and merges with the infinite universe.

In this state, the concepts of time and space are altogether different. For a minute, an hour, or more a person reaching this state is in another world. Wolf Gang researches this stage through the perspectives of astronauts and her own strong intimate experience that positioned her in similar condition; a ‘vanishing act’ through which she explores the areas of body, space and identity.

Background information on the “Artist in Residence” program – open call, application requirements and jury decision The Atelierhaus Ludwig-Engel-Weg 1 (LEW1) in Park Rosenhöhe, Darmstadt, is part of the so-called “New Artist Colony” built by the city of Darmstadt in the 1960s. From 1965 to 1967, a total of seven studio and apartment buildings were built. Traditionally, artists lived there. The first of these studio houses, the LEW1, has been available as a cultural venue since summer 2019.

In keeping with this year’s theme of »11. Darmstadt Days of Photography “” Quirky Escapes – Humor in Photography “, the residence is intended to enable an escape from everyday life and to aim at the completion or development of an art project.

The results of the residency will be exhibited in the LEW1 studio house during the festival.

In addition to the presentation of a specific project, a biography and a portfolio, a statement about why the artist deserved the opportunity to “escape from everyday life” in the form of an artist’s residence was another selection criterion for the nomination.

After reviewing a total of 66 applications from all over the world, the jury chose Valerie Wolf Gang as the winner of the “Artist in Residence” program. The jury members were Lukas Einsele (board member of the “Kultur einer Digitalstadt” association), Alexandra Lechner (photographer / founding member of the “Darmstädter Tage der Fotografie” / RAY curator), Julia Reichelt (head of the art forum at TU Darmstadt) and Gregor Schuster (photographer / Founding member of the “Darmstadt Days of Photography”).

Information about the cooperation partner »Kultur einer Digitalstadt eV«

The association »Kultur einer Digitalstadt«, which has existed since January 2019, sees itself as an interdisciplinary platform for observation, investigation, visualization, networking and further development of various aspects of digitality from an artistic and cultural perspective. The association “Kultur einer Digitalstadt” is based in the Atelierhaus Ludwig-Engel-Weg 1 (LEW1) in Park Rosenhöhe in Darmstadt.

Thanks to its history as part of the New Artists ‘Colony, its architecture and, last but not least, the spatial and content-related proximity to the artists’ colony on Mathildenhöhe – a major pioneer of modernity – the Atelierhaus is an ideal starting point for various projects and events.
Eight to ten events are planned for 2020 so far:

In addition to the artist residence, these are lectures, exhibitions, symposia, performances or workshops. The form, duration, number of participants and the level of publicity at the events are very different, which means that they represent the diversity of the underlying cultural actors and their positions.

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