Pre-interview: Daniel Knorr

Cover photo © Ludovic Balland, Los Angeles, 2015

For their next episode in the series titled "Appropriating Language", Maniere Noire gallery invited the Bucharest-born, Berlin-based conceptual and performance artist Daniel Knorr to exhibit his installation, "State of Mind". 

The exhibition currently in preparation is a two-part show based on an exchange between the Stasi Museum Leipzig and the artist. One part of the work is in the Museum in Leipzig, consisting of a scalemodel of the soviet tank T-34 installed on a pedestal, with documents hanging attached to the model. The second part of the presentation, shown at Maniere Noire, are the file-stones made of former confidential documents issued and destroyed by the Stasi.

We reached Daniel to find out more about his work and the upcoming exhibition at Maniere Noire.


Can you tell us what the upcoming exhibition at Maniere Noire is all about? What exactly is exhibited at the gallery, and what it represents?

Daniel Knorr, "State of Mind". © The Art, Collection of Erste Group and ERSTE Foundation

Daniel Knorr, "State of Mind", part one exhibited at the "Runde Ecke" in Leipzig.

The work presented consists of two parts. The first part, consisting of documents that were destroyed by the Stasi, is on view in the gallery. The papers were destroyed in the last weeks before the re-unification of the GDR and FRG, of East and West Germany – shredded, crushed, and blended with water and oil, through converted farm machinery.

From secret documents and microfilms that underwent this process, cellulose clumps were formed, in whose coloured mass of gray, pale blue and pink only a few letters are recognizable. The second part is installed in the Stasi Museum “Runde Ecke” in Leipzig. Thereby, the object that I exchanged for the document hunks, is exposed. The exchange object is a model of the T-54 Soviet tank at the scale of 1:50 on a pedestal. On the canon of the tank, hanging on a lace, are preserved secret documents of original size. Among that, a leaflet is enclosed, written by three schoolgirls from Frankfurt Oder in 1968, to inform the East German population about the invasion of Prague by troops of the Warsaw Pact.

A booklet informing about the exhibition in two parts is on display in the gallery. The work is to be read as a historical point, in which the “Mind” of a state is deleted as bio-political surveillance and materialized as a creative element. The Stasi “Stone Documents”, point out the aspect of repetition of obscure political acts in history, and encourage us today to be more vigilant in dealings with government bodies.

How did you get involved in the topic?

Back in 2006 when my former Professor and mentor from NYC, Antoni Muntadas, visited Berlin and was researching for a piece around Olympia, he proposed me to make a trip with him to Leipzig and see the Stasi Museum “Runde Ecke”. This is when I discovered the file stones that were on display in the museum.

How did it come to the exchange with the Stasi Museum “Runde Ecke” in Leipzig?

After I saw the destroyed documents that looked like concrete stones, I got the impression that the state would be the “sculptor” or the designer of these objects. I was really stoked and wanted to have them. Even the director of the museum said I could get some stones. But I wanted to make something special for them and mark an exchange, I didn´t want to have it for free. So we put up a contract and I fabricated the exchange object mentioned above.

What is your opinion on the surveillance?

Surveillance becomes a status of normality and looks like a necessity in our modern society. Even the public space became “normal” when it has surveillance cameras. One feels more “secure” being surveyed. Kind of depressing I find.

Where is this installation going to be shown next?

After the presentation at Maniere Noire, the work will go to Künstlerhaus Bethanien for a group show called “Wolf Biermann und die Folgen“, opening in June.

Could you tell us something about your upcoming shows / projects?

© Daniel Knorr. "Welcome", 2011. 

June 5th there is another show called "Passengers" at Salon Dahlmann in Berlin, where a bigger work called “Welcome“, featuring 19 russian Matrjoska dolls sized 7 cm to 200 cm, will be shown. In September there is an older interactive photographic work that I will adapt and develop further for a biennial of photography in Switzerland. For next year I am preparing two bigger presentations for Lenbachhaus Munich and Kunstmuseum Bonn.


What is at the core of your artistic practice?

My head and stomach!


What do you find most important in art?

Changing perception on things in a way that we understand our bad and good.


What are you looking forward to at this year's Gallery Weekend?

Happy to attend the big dinner with Hiwa K, a great artist and friend, and see what´s new on display.


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Daniel Knorr: "State of Mind" @ Maniere Noire

22.04 – 31.05.2016; opening: 22.04 / 19h

Opening hours during the Gallery Weekend:
Friday, Saturday & Sunday / 14 – 18h

12.05 / 19h  panel discussion with Daniel Knorr, Myriam Naumann, Walter Seidl & Raimar Stange

More info

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