Juliane Tübke first studied African art history at the Free University Berlin and later Fine Arts at the University of Arts Berlin and the School of Visual Arts New York.
In 2018, she completed her diploma in the class of Monica Bonvicini and received the President‘s Fine Arts Award for her show "tentare", which explored the idea that material can have agency. In the same year, she was artist-in-resident in Beirut supported by the DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service). Further, she was selected to participate in the Liebermann Villa Emerging Artist Programme organised by the British Council, UK/Germany 2018.
Her recent project “tentare” is a compilation of different photographs that reveal her attempts to develop a sense for stone as a material.
The word “tentare” (lat.) means both “to feel” and “to try”. The basis of these works is a type of paper, which is used in archaeology to assist in deciphering unearthed stone inscriptions. With the help of a special technique, she examines the qualities of different stony surfaces. But rather than focusing on the text, she prioritises the material itself as co-creator of the final image. "tentare" is thus an attempt to approach a material that appears to passively wait to be shaped by the human hand or to gain meaning through our intervention. How could one think of the material itself as an actor?
tentare - Kochi
After working mainly with photographic images, Juliane recently became interested in exploring architectural space and the body through sculpture. During her residency at Pepper House in Kochi, Juliane will develop a new project dealing with Kochi city’s architecture. After taking imprints of Kochi’s architectural surfaces, Juliane will incorporate them into a site-specific installation. These imprints carry the residue of human touch left over many years. What does it mean to be touched by a surrounding? How do these traces of memory speak to us and how do we speak to them?
This residency is organised with the generous support of Malabar Escapes.
When the weather was good, I went on motorbike tours along Kochi’s coastline with a staff member from the Foundation. One day, early in the morning, we drove through Kumbalangi - a village located on the outskirts of Kochi amidst a network of lagoons, lakes and rivers. We stopped and walked along a narrow path to watch fishermen preparing for their day. The first person we met was Lalu, a banker from Mattancherry, who invited us to his house where he had lived with his family for several decades. His father used to work as a fisherman. Over the next week, we visited his family almost every day. We talked about the weather and had some fish from the farm right next to their house. Finally, I met Lalu’s mother Lakshmi. She told me more about how the village and its climate had changed over the last 50 years. Lakshmi also spoke about various buildings that we would pass every day on our way to her house and whose surfaces were heavily affected by the rain.
Paper imprints drying on the facade of a building in Kumbalangi. | © Juliane Tübke A dried paper imprint peels away from the facade. | © Juliane Tübke WEATHERING
I started to think more about the weather and how it affects our lives and surroundings in general. Exactly one year ago, there was a big flood in the state of Kerala where Kochi is located. Consequently, the whole Foundation team began to monitor the movements of the clouds over Kerala and to follow the news closely for any signs of further floods. Due to its elevated location and geography, Kochi is usually spared the seasonal floods and this year was no exception.
The weather would be a predominant theme in the interviews I would conduct over subsequent weeks. I decided to work in Kumbalangi and talk to the people I met there. During my conversations, I was aided by Jith Joseph, who is a member of the Biennale Foundation and whose father also used to work as a fisherman. Naturally, without him translating, I wouldn't have been able to have these conversations. We often started the interviews with a chat about the weather but eventually ended up talking about something completely different. After each interview, I would also roam the small village for hours photographing my surroundings. The stories and photos would later feed ideas for a project that I plan to realise back in Germany. For this project, I am going to interweave my interview recordings and transcriptions with paper imprints of Kumbalangi's architectural surfaces. When creating these imprints, I was assisted by Antony Ajay, another member of the Biennale Foundation. Additionally, I decided to give myself an extra constraint and only use those buildings that Lakshmi had mentioned in our conversations.
Installation view of the open studio at Pepper House. | © Juliane Tübke Installation view of the open studio at Pepper House. | © Juliane Tübke PEPPER HOUSE
When the rain was too heavy, I spent a lot of time in my studio and started working with the architectural surfaces of Pepper House itself. The imprinting process revealed the tactile textures of the weathered surfaces which included traces of minor repairs. I then emphasised these surfaces by applying black pigments to the imprints. For the open days at the studio, I installed a selection of these paper wall imprints as well as floor imprints that I'd made from clay. I also presented my research material from Kumbalangi as part of the Let's Talk series on August 14th. While preparing for my talk, I came to the realisation that my stay in Kochi had a huge impact on my working process - an impact that I had previously underestimated. One of the strongest influences were the conversations with Lakshmi and Jith that were to significantly change my way of working over the ensuing weeks.
Presentation in the framework of the Let’s Talk Series organised by the Kochi Biennale Foundation | © Kochi Biennale Foundation Considering I only spent 4 weeks in Kochi, my time there was surprisingly productive. Thanks to the great support of the Goethe-Institut Bangalore and the Kochi Biennale Foundation, I was able to collect enough material to develop a new body of work in Berlin. This wouldn't have been possible without the excellent organisational skills of the bangaloREsidency team, who enabled us to have an inspiring and productive stay in India. Also, I'd like to thank all the staff of the Kochi Biennale Foundation, especially Jith Joseph and Antony Ajay, for their tremendous daily support and their endless energy. Last but not least, I want to thank Malabar House for their generous support in providing me with accommodation. Back home, I'm now hard at work developing my project and I'm looking forward to presenting the results of my research in Kochi next year.