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Interview With Berlin Street Artist Various & Gould

Bringing a colourful personality to the streets of Berlin, street artist duo, Various & Gould, talk about the differences between life in and outside the studio and the motivations behind their works

Various & Gould are an intriguing artistic duo. Their formula of 1+1=3 is a slight insight into their non-conforming, magical world.

With art popping up all around Berlin and the rest of Europe, the street artist duo are making quite the name for themselves and it was a huge pleasure to catch up with them to find out more about their work. From discussing Berlin studio life to opening up about their public displays and what street art really means to them, this interview scopes out exactly how Various & Gould, along with the creatives of Berlin, are coping with social change and what they’re doing to alleviate certain pressures and arising situations!

What object in your studio most defines you as an artistic duo?

Our scissors because they are representative for our collage approach. It’s not only about cutting things apart but to give shape. The scissors are like pencils to us.

Your work explores many socially prominent themes, how do you decide on the theme of your next, upcoming artwork?

This is usually very intuitive. We pick up things while reading, watching the news or talking to people and get inspired by these public and private discourses. Then we discuss these topics with each other, think them through properly and either agree on working on them or letting them go.

How much of a role do you feel the artist can play in bringing about social change?

Well this is quite an interesting question because social change is a very complex process! However, one thing is for sure, humans are shaped by their environment. Art, news, social media, advertisements – all of these images, narratives and role models that surround us in everyday life have an impact on our personality.

Because of that, we don’t want to reproduce the same old stereotypes over and over again but to create new imagery. We think that’s really important since we as artists have the platform to do so and to reach a wide audience. Personally, to us it’s about raising awareness for particular topics and also criticising shortcomings in general, but in a playful and partly humorous manner. We are not activists, but artists. We are dreamers and utopians. We believe that sharing your utopian dreams can have an impact 🙂

Book A Various & Gould Studio Visit Now!

Meet Various & Gould in person and take a tour of their Berlin studio

Tell us a story about one of your most memorable artworks?

We installed a life-sized marionette made from cardboard under a dismal high-line in Berlin-Kreuzberg in 2012. Its name was Heinrich and he stayed there for six days, which was more than we expected. During this time there were many reactions and interactions and Heinrich got played with a lot. Everyday we went back to check on him.

A group of regulars from the nearby Späti (mostly street people) started taking care and even fixed the puppet as well as they could, particularly Ben, a slim musician in his forties, despite he himself wearing a bandage at the time. One of his fingers got splinted when Ben was beaten up. During a conversation with him he suddenly got melancholic and said “So to speak, all of us are like marionettes… somebody pulls our strings and we move.”

You don’t only work in the studio. What does your studio space give you that working outside or elsewhere can’t?

Working in the studio is of course less stressful. We use the studio to prepare our work in the public space and to create collages, screen prints and works on wood and canvas. In our studio we have all the time we need and are not dependent on the weather or other influences. It’s like a haven of productivity which we really appreciate. But what we love about our art practice is the mixture between working in the studio and the public space. Both belongs together and keeps us going.

What, for you, makes Berlin such a creative capital and what does Berlin provide you with regards to artistic inspiration?

Berlin is full of inspiration and that’s what makes it such a creative capital. It’s diverse and people are mostly tolerant. When we bike around the city, we regularly find spots to place our paste-ups. Sometimes we even spot places and create works especially for these locations. We love discovering graffiti, rundown buildings and accidental beauty in everyday life.

Where is your favourite local spot when you take a break from the studio?

It’s either our big studio garden or back in Berlin-Mitte in the beautiful, enchanted backyard of Haus Schwarzenberg where you’ll find walls full of paste-ups and murals. Not to forget the wonderful, unconventional Neurotitan gallery & bookshop, run by a collective.

How do you feel Berlin has changed over the last years and where do you see it heading?

Berlin and especially its street art scene has changed a lot. It’s still such a diverse city but problems like increasing studio rents, closure of important unconventional cultural venues and gentrification in general make it more difficult for artists to survive. Everything gets more professionalised. Money is a killer for subcultures and if the city doesn’t watch out, its charm will be renovated and sold out!

What exciting projects have you got coming up that we can look out for?

We are proud to announce that we are one of the eight winning teams of the NGBK competition ‘Kunst im Untergrund – Mitte in der Pampa’ (Art in the Underground – The Middle in Nowhere). Next year we will release a new work in the public space from our “City Skins” series. More information coming soon… stay tuned!

And finally – My studio is my… what?

Magic carpet.