“I like mixing photography and public intervention.” Sasha Kurmaz
Doing away with rules, causing irritations. Making everyday occurrences visible. Completely unexpected. Right in the face! The nonconformist actions of Sasha Kurmaz always take place in public spaces and almost casually break up the monotony of familiar modes of perception. The photogra-phic situations and illegal interventions of the Ukrainian artist throw a spanner into the works. They question habits and open new cultural and social spaces. His attitude is guerrilla or punk – auto-nomous, playful, disruptive, radical. For him, photography is not just an instrument for echoing and explaining life, but rather for exhausting art's potential and by doing so changing our understanding of society. Which artistic methods does Sasha Kurmaz apply to accomplish this? What kinds of cons-tellations does he create? And what initiates his strategies?
Sasha Kurmaz consciously and arbitrarily places his somewhat sexually explicit images between the pages of books in bookstores. He busts open advertising displays in public places and replaces the original posters with images of the homeless. At subway station exits, he distributes slips of paper to passers-by with photographs that depict the same location but a day early. He slides his prints unde-tected into strangers' jacket pockets. He cuts sections out of advertising banners, thereby removing the commercial information and creating a new context. Through these actions and misappropria-tions, he shifts his photographic artistic practices towards social interaction and personal encounters. The viewer remains unsure of what it all means – what exactly does this have to do with him? In this way, he's made aware of his surroundings for a short moment – a stumble that makes him conscious of the act of passing.
With all of this situationism, the individual image and its theme are not important, but rather their effect in a specific context. For Sasha Kurmaz, it's not the neatly framed print on the wall at an exhibition that counts, but rather the artistic act itself. That places him in the tradition of a conceptual approach to photography, as it has been implemented since the 1970s. Even at that time, the former understanding of photography was turned upside down and led to an expansion of the use, perception and definition of the photographic medium.
Sasha Kurmaz has his origins in graffiti art and uses photography like a can of spray paint. If someone sprays their tag on a wall in a city, that gesture immediately and symbolically destroys, conquers and appropriates that space. This logic concerning the understanding of public spaces, which one adopts and uses to create relationships between people and places, becomes part of his photographic methods.
For the exhibition at C/O Berlin curated by Ann-Christin Bertrand, Sasha Kurmaz' actions and interventions are not only present throughout the whole of the Amerika Haus but also expanded into public space.
Sasha Kurmaz, born in 1986 in Kiev, studied at the National Academy of Visual Arts and Architec-ture in Kiev and completed his bachelor in Design in 2008. He began his artistic work as a graffiti ar-tist. He has participated in numerous international collective exhibitions and festivals, including at the Centre for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle in Warsaw (2013), at the Centre for Arts and Media in Karlsruhe (2013), in The Vienna Künstlerhaus (2014), at the Saatchi Gallery in London (2015) and at the Festival international de mode et de photographie in Hyères, France (2016). His works are present in numerous international newspapers and journals, such as Foam, YET, Vice, Libération, Krytyka Polityczna, Bloomberg Businessweek and Rolling Stone. In 2015, he was awarded the ARTE Creative Award at the Düsseldorf Photo Weekend. Sasha Kurmaz lives and works in Kiev.
Svea Bräunert, born in 1980, studied Modern German Literature, Cultural Studies and Mo-dern/Contemporary History at the Humboldt University of Berlin, at Washington University in St. Louis and Cornell University, New York. She completed her doctorate in 2013 with the work "Spectral His-tories: Leftwing Terrorism and the Arts". Currently, she's a postdoctoral candidate at the Brandenburg Centre for Media Studies and a designated DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) guest pro-fessor at the University of Cincinnati. Co-curator of the exhibition To See Without Being Seen. Con-temporary Art and Drone Warfare (Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, 2016) and author of numerous essays on the relationship between art, politics and historical imagination. Svea Bräuert lives and works in Berlin.