When we announced our New Year's Eve Masquerade Ball, we anticipated that this would be a LEAP year. And we were not just referring to the extra day in the calendar, but perhaps that wasn't accidental either.
Right in the city center, and facing the TV tower, LEAP is a non-profit interdisciplinary space fulfilling the gap of venues specialized in digital, electronic and performance art in Berlin. Their program includes activities such as solo and group exhibitions, performances, concerts, workshops, presentations and talks.
Founder members of this project are John McKiernan, Daniel Franke, and Kai Kreuzmüller. John, originally from Ireland, combined studies of economics and politics with performative arts, while Kai graduated in Cultural Sciences at the University of Leipzig. Daniel studied Experimental Media at the University of Arts in Berlin. He is also an artist himself, working in the field of electronic arts.
As part of the Transmediale and CTM's Vorspiel program, they are presenting the second edition of BodyControlled tonight, with live performances by Echo Ho, Mario de Vega, Alex Nowitz and Ignaz Schick. The performances will be live streamed here.
On Saturday LEAP is presenting the group show Drawing in the Age of Electronic Expressions, with works by Sanela Jahić, Takahiro Yamaguchi, Julius Stahl, Daniel Franke and David Bowen. All artists will be present and Sanela Jahić will perform Fire Painting on the terrace.
Picture courtesy of Leap
How did you get started?
We all met in October 2010 during our workshop "Operative Performances" that turned out to be quite successful and led to the idea for a space. We renovated the space in January 2011 and the first exhibition took place in March. Since then we have had 25 events and exhibitions.
What was your main concept?
We felt that there wasn't a space in Berlin which focused exclusively on digital and electronic arts. The idea of bringing both physical and digital worlds together is the central concept. We are interested in this intersection point, while still focusing on the performative side. Interaction with the works is central to our curation. An interaction that doesn't exclusively involve the artists and the audience, but that is also including the architecture of the space and the sound. Some works are then completed through the induction with the space. In that sense, the artists generate a work for and within the space.
What we show here has got a physical character, it's animated. A professor of mine often uses the idea of “extended animation”. It really hits the spot, because animation refers to something alive, as the subjects here. In that sense, performance also animates the body.
What's your curatorial angle?
We are interested in different fields. Our agenda comprises three different fields of work: electronic art, science and theory. We try to connect them with other related categories such as performance or sound art. We use the term lab to call this exchange between different disciplines. And it suits the project well since we are also working with science. But we will focus more in that aspect throughout the year.
We usually come up with a concept/discourse for an exhibition first and then find artists to fulfill this concept by researching in our network, using sources such as Vimeo (where we also share our research on our LEAP channel), and by visits to exhibitions and festivals in Germany and abroad.
How do you finance yourself?
We are financing this project by ourselves. This cost a lot of work and energy of course, but it's working out. As a non-profit space we never charge entrance, we only get donations from the bar during opening events and through renting out five work spaces to artists.
Sometimes we have ideas but we find ourselves financially limited. Our New Year's Eve Fundrising Party with Bpigs was a success. Even if we're not quite eager to host parties, we could afford a ticket for Takahiro Yamaguchi (award winner at the 2012 Japan Media Arts Festival) to fly from Tokyo to participate at our Transmediale Vorspiel Exhibition.
We aim to have a number of sponsorship partners in the near future, some financial contribution would help us to keep on expanding. We are currently researching for funds, but sometimes it seems that some institutions are not really understanding with this kind of art.
How do you find the current situation for non-profit spaces in Berlin?
A current discussion in the media addressed the issue of where the Hauptstadt-Kulturfonds are going. They are mostly issued to music festivals that are sponsored anyway, and to large institutions. That's not a fair distribution, that funding money could be very useful for smaller burgeoning galleries and project spaces.
What are your favourite spaces or institutions?
A longstanding festival like Transmediale is one we feel we share concepts with and look forward to future collaborarions. Their new Resources Program will be very important to spaces working in our field.
Any succesful of remarkable event?
We are quite happy with all that we have ahieved so far, we have realised over twenty projects in a relative short amount of time, but the most important fact is that we are in continuous developement: we learn and improve from every new exhibition project.
We find it really exciting to think about what is coming next, that the future projects are getting bigger in scale.
Tell us about the program...
2012 is already fully planned until after summer and we recently launched BodyControlled, a series of one-night events that started in November, and last week we opened Deconstructing with Reynold Reynolds, a series of monthly presentations in which established video artists show works that are influential for them. It will run until the end of the year, when we are planning to make some publication out of the archives that we are currently collecting from each presentation.
We are quite excited about the upcoming first solo show by Nikas Roy and a collaboration with MUU Gallery & artists association from Helsinki.
Kai, John and Daniel on the terrace
What are you expecting from the future?
When we look ahead, we certainly have a positive outlook for the future. We have many ideas... for instance, we're thinking of artist programs, collaborative exchanges, working along with other institutions and getting more involved with the lab and development side of our name. We will just continue working like this, in order to further develop our project and get well established.