Johannes Albers is in a predicament: he attempts to access culture and the art industry whilst opposing its money-making devices and seeking a solution to its very real financial downturn. His work, ‘Culture Industry Crisis!’ distils this anxiety: within his uninhabited sculptural set-ups are traces of human existence that cry for help. In one ‘aquarium’ piece, a flurry of snow engulfs an empty coach with its headlights on, and an abandoned campfire in another glows unguarded. The word ‘Help’ emerging from the arrangement of shelved office files comments on the crisis the artist finds us in, appearing as if arranged by a silent, lonely anonym.
The hope of believing in art as a source of wonderment and enchanting magic is discussed in both Richard Milward’s essay and the artist’s interview with Wolfgang Ulrich. Every copy is signed and both texts appear in German and English.
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.