Jorinde Voigt is a Berlin-based artist best known for her large scale drawings that develop complex notation systems derived from music, philosophy, and phenomenology. Working primarily within the medium of drawing, Jorinde Voigt's works have been described as notational thought models which provide a pictorial form to an array of phenomena, and a means through which to explore individual perception, achieving a fascinating effect on the viewer. For many years in her youth, Voigt trained classically as a cellist, and, as a student of philosophy, she used musical notations as stand-ins for concepts that she didn’t understand through language alone. Her art practice today represents an expansion of this impulse, and a quest for truth through visual composition, visible in her spirited drawings and sculptures. Jorinde Voigt was born in Frankfurt and lives and works in Berlin. Her work is part of some of the most prominent public art collections worldwide, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Art Institute of Chicago, IL; Centre Pompidou, Paris, France; or The British Museum, London.
LVH: In the past, you have studied philosophy, sociology, modern literature and music. How do you blend all these different disciplines together into a visual form? What do you take from each?
JV: Every topic that one dedicates oneself to requires the use of knowledge from a wide variety of sciences in order to be able to take as diverse a perspective as possible. For example, if I am interested in the subject of “rhythmic field”, then I have direct links to music in the sense of time signature / beat, motif. At the same time, mathematical aspects are involved in extrapolating or playing through the possible forms, for calculating proportions, quantities, and possible variations. And in order to understand the topic from a perceptual point of view, I have to find it in myself, as an experience and as a physical (breathing, pulse), medical (organ function and interaction), biological (generation), spiritual - energetic (condition), physical (matter), psychological (psychosomatic, pattern formation, communication), cosmic (materiality), collective and sociological fact (culture). One can say that nothing is not of interest in the accompanying process for developing a topic.
LVH: During your early artistic career you were experimenting a lot with the medium of photography, how did this influence what you do now?
JV: The work is still visually orientated.
LVH: Do you also look at art history to find inspiration, what would you say are your main artistic influences?
JV: Lately, I've been most fascinated by Cy Twombly. Based on his work, I suddenly realised that we carry every age we have been in at the same time. In his work you can see the haptic action of a 3-year-old, next to tabular calculations of a young adult, at the same time suddenly senile letters fall out of words, self-doubts of a 40-year-old are celebrated and multiple corrections are made on each other, or outside of any age a gesture is very naturally and repeatedly executed, so profane and irreversible, so sensitive and final at the same time. That changed my whole idea of life. That we are not 1,… 10,… .20,… .30,… .40… .years old, but 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5 + 6 + 7 + 8 etc. Well, others probably have always known that ---
But I would also like to be able to paint in this entirety.
LVH: Music is a very important aspect in your work, indeed, when I visited your studio last fall during Berlin Gallery weekend, I remember you were painting to the sound of a techno soundtrack. Later on I learned that before turning to art, you were trained as a classical cellist. What is your relationship with music nowadays? Do you always listen to music while painting? Do you feel like the music that you are listening to, somehow dictates the outcome of the drawing that you are working on?
JV: Music is a space that allows us to be free without getting lost. Each music is structure, being the net under the rope on which we dance.
LVH: There is a certain fluidity and performative aspect to your work which I personally find fascinating. Before starting a drawing, or a series, do you have an idea in mind which sort of spontaneously develops once you begin the piece? Or is everything carefully thought of before you put your hands on the paper?
JV: Every single action is conceptually very carefully considered, but always consciously includes the aspect of the spontaneous, also knowingly that this could not be excluded anyway, I am alive while I am doing this, and I work from a concrete direct movement of my body onto the paper. The thought has to go through me completely before it shows up in the form of color or writing on the paper. In the course of time the “concept” became more and more a “concept of action”, that is performative. The previous thought is an immersive impact through the body and the body the direct continuation of the brain. My knowledge, my experience, my perception, my ability to resonate, my ability to learn is not only stored and active in my brain, but in the entire body and organism and its radius.
LVH: As we mentioned before, your drawings deal with the idea of how every individual’s sense of reality and perception differs from one another. Unsurprisingly, I recently learned that you have synaesthesia – a condition where the senses cross over and blend- How do you feel like your work embodies this peculiarity about your persona?
JV: The space in which my works are located corresponds to the musical space, I think. Music always creates concrete abstract colours and shapes in me.
LVH: You recently started making sculptures, or perhaps the right terminology would be mobiles, as they hang from the ceiling. The first time I had a chance to see these in person I was fascinated by the visual dialogue between them and your drawings. Walking into the exhibition space almost felt like walking into an immersive installation. Could you tell us more about the relationship between these two practices?
JV: In parallel to notation and painting, there have always been objects. These are directly related to work on paper. Mostly it is about a review or continuation of a thought in 3D and in matter. This makes new aspects possible and visible and completes the topic. Sculptural things usually arise at the point when a topic is almost finished, as the climax of a confrontation.
LVH: Any upcoming projects you would like to tell us about?
JV: I am currently showing my work in two solo shows in Seoul at P21 and King Seoul. The Korean context is very exciting for me and absolutely fascinating to see how the work is read there, whether the archetypical is conveyed, across language barriers and past history that partly has parallels in the media I use, but appears as an entirely different face.
I'm currently preparing my next solo shows with David Nolan in New York and the Moody Art Center in Houston, Texas. For this I work on the development of rhythmic fields. I imagine that every pulse, every beat, every interference is already there in an infinitely continuous manner, and every music that is there is a kind of message or report from this spectrum.
In the exhibition in Seoul, my most recent works on Beethoven deal with precisely this aspect. And of course it is the infinite joy in trying to make these structures visible, and in trying out what is possible to do with them, what qualities and possibilities unfold in front of oneself. I still have a lot to do ...