Executed in 2007, this work is from a series of unique variants in which Johannes Albers brings the TDK cassette tape back to life. In today’s modern, digital world of MP3s and iPods and compact discs, Albers celebrates the analogue, rewinding to a not-too-distant past where ‘mix-tapes’, unravelling cassette ribbon, and wow and flutter reigned supreme. Printed with ink on canvas, these editions reverberate with nostalgia, whilst boldly staking a claim in today’s popular culture.
Individually labelled with studio terminology (‘Original’, ‘Recording’), or juvenile scrawl (‘Joy Division’, ‘Clash’), these works bridge a gap between mechanical reproduction and the personal intimacy of a homemade compilation tape. Whilst the image of the tape is identical throughout, the individual labels hum with their own life and story, entangled in the same school of thought as Mark E Smith, who famously ranted, “Repetition in the music and we’re never gonna lose it.”
Reproducing images of popular culture and everyday domesticity, Johannes Albers’ work seems to simultaneously praise and poke fun at modern-day interests and values. Starting out with the intention to ‘do the opposite of what was really hip’, Albers’ work has encompassed a range of printed motifs, from bathmats to band tapes, ping-pong tables to Stanley knives.
His incessant reproduction of these images reflects – and criticises – the disposability of much of today’s media culture and marketing imagery. His intention is to ‘one day see the uncorrupted mirror-images of this world. A twin world with extensions or channels into the real world’.
Founder of the now-defunct Club Vernissage – a two-man group with dogmas ranging from ‘Marketing is Bullshit’ to ‘Celebrities are Monkeys’ – Albers went on to pursue his own vision; a vision which, at its core, retains the desire to be always ‘different’. Whether idolising analogue compilation cassettes – scrawled with ‘CLASH’ and ‘Joy Division’ – or flattening a fuzzy bathmat across a sharp monochrome plane, Albers’ work remains positioned firmly outside the status quo.
Johannes Albers was born in Lingen, Germany, in 1966, and graduated from Goldsmiths’ College in 1990. He has exhibited in various exhibitions, including ‘Some went mad, some ran away’ (1994) at the Serpentine Gallery, London, ‘Free as a bird’ (1996) and ‘The good the bad and the ugly’ (1997) both at the Sophiensale, Berlin, as well as numerous Club Vernissage (2000-2) projects: ‘Marketing is Bullshit’, ‘Celebrities are monkeys’, and ‘Pop is Disgusting’. More recent exhibitions have included ‘Gute, Alte Arbeiten’ (2004) at the Galerie Khadr, Berlin, as well as ‘Neue Arbeiten’ (2005) and ‘Lazy artists in times of record sales covered by the yellow press’ (2006) at Raum 58, Munich. A freelance journalist since 1997, Albers currently lives in Berlin.