2018/19 Season

The Newcomers

Our stARTacademy is celebrating its tenth anniversary this season, and we are proud to be able to take a moment to reflect upon a full decade of sponsoring artists. The academy was founded in 2009 to support young, highly talented artists. Since then, the format has evolved from a pure sponsorship model into a forum for intensive mentoring relationships, sustainable career development and an extensive artists’ network. “Many of the artists continue their relationship with us beyond their active sponsorship period, which typically lasts three years. That speaks volumes about the quality of our stARTacademy,” says Thomas Helfrich, Head of Culture, Sports and Education at Bayer. “What makes this project so special is that we not only give the artists something, we also get something in return through intensive cooperative exploration, in-depth conversations, and joint projects. We would like to take this opportunity to extend a big thank you to all of the artists who put their trust in us over the past years. We believe our cultural engagement is essential in that art and culture, along with economic and social factors, are indicators of a creative and free society.”

Our stART artists demonstrate for us this freedom and creativity time and time again – with their performances in the Erholungshaus and even more so with their full personal engagement and stories.

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Sandro Roy meets Tobias Feldmann meets the Concertgebouw Chamber Orchestra
Mountain climbers create rope teams so they can reach their goal together, literally supporting and linking each other with a rope. They also have to be able to absolutely rely on each other. Ultimately, they are bound together. One false step affects everyone in the group. Our stART artists are in a similar situation. Many of them are soloists, pursuing individual projects but also occasionally working together – whether with other artists they have known for some time or with new colleagues. Our stARTacademy plays the role of facilitator, bringing together different pairings of artists, or convincing a dream team of musicians to perform together for an evening.

Tobias Feldmann (stART artist 2015-2018) and Sandro Roy (stART artist starting in 2018) check a number of these boxes. Tobias always wanted to perform with the Concertgebouw Chamber Orchestra, and Sandro hoped to take the stage with Tobias someday. We were able to bring them together for one special evening in the 2019/2020 season: Sandro Roy meets Tobias Feldmann meets Concertgebouw Chamber Orchestra.

“The joint concert is an amazing reward for the years of hard work I have put in throughout my own career. It’s also an important validation that I am being taken seriously in what can be – for young artists – a very competitive music community.” – Sandro Roy

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Philippe Kratz – inspired by Anni Albers

Philippe Kratz has made a name for himself as a talented, up-and-coming choreographer. Originally from Leverkusen, he has been living in Reggio Emilia in northern Italy for more than ten years and dances with Alterballetto. His first duet, “Lettres d’Amour,” premiered in 2012, and he has choreographed a number of works for his fellow dancers since then.

Philippe Kratz began rehearsals for his new work, “cloud|materia,” in spring 2019. He was intensely interested in Bauhaus, particularly the work of Anni Albers, while he was preparing for and researching the piece. Albers was a talented weaver and one of the few female workshop leaders at the Bauhaus in Weimar and Dessau. What few people know is that in addition to being a pioneer and master of her art and craft, Anni Albers was also an eloquent writer. Philippe Kratz found approaches in her essays and writings that agree with his understanding of dance and movement.

Two ideas particularly fascinate him. Anni Albers was a very pragmatic person, and she believed that one can remain immersed in theory only up to a certain point. But it is important to put theory into practice, to get a sense of the material, literally to grasp and to take hold of it. Only in this way can true understanding emerge that allows a new interpretation, a formation, a movement to build a strong and clear expression. “That really speaks to me,” say Philippe Kratz. “I am also very hands-on in my work. I have a physical mission in my daily work.”

“I also feel a connection to the idea that Anni and Josef Albers traveled to South America a number of times to study pre-Columbian peoples like the Paracas and the Nazcas, with Anni integrating their ideas into her own work. This is something that really interests me and I want to take a similar approach for my piece. Dance is the oldest art form in the world, going far back in human history. I believe that the ritual of dance first connected people to each other. It was an art form that inspired transcendence in humans. I want to return to this form of ritual in my piece. I want to bring the 15 dancers and 15 performers together and enable a rite to emerge.”

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Alexej Gerassimez: Genesis of Percussion
The new program from Alexej Gerassimez reveals a panorama of virtuosity and complexity, from silence to soundscapes, urban groove music, and sophisticated compositions. In a compelling performance that is both concert and dramaturgy, Alexej Gerassimez and his percussion group take the listeners on a voyage of discovery through different rhythmic and stylistic cultures. The “Genesis of Percussion” is based on the emergence of sounds and rhythms from our everyday environment. Cooking pots, newspapers, keyrings, gravel, and the body come into play.

With “Genesis of Percussion,” Alexej invites the audience to discover and experience the beautiful and the fascinating aspects in our everyday acoustical surroundings. He and the other musicians create a complex world of sound using archaic instruments that include all branches of the percussion family tree, from small and large drums to Asian and Latin American instruments, as well as the vibraphone, marimba, and xylophone, enhanced by accompanying electronic sounds. The performance comes to life in the fast tempo of various instrumentations: whether as solo, duo, trio, quartet, quintet, electronic, or in elaborate interactions with the audience.

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Art colleges visit Leverkusen:
Academy of Fine Arts in Munich / Class of Professor Pia Fries

As part of the stARTacademy, our annual “Art colleges visit Leverkusen” exhibition series features the class of Professor Pia Fries at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich.

The current debate about art and its relevance is as emotionally charged as it is political. Productions that come under the term “art” are drifting apart as well. The spectrum ranges from politically motivated, actionist media productions to the mirrored surfaces of expensive artworks as status symbols, such as that of Jeff Koons. In view of the growing need for art to justify itself in the face of morally charged demands for censorship to ensure “political correctness” on the one hand and economic constraints on the other, how can art be perceived as, let alone lay claim to being, autonomous, based on what art history has taught us? When is something to be labeled a work of art versus simply expression? When is a creation “just” a design object?

Art students have the difficult task of orienting themselves in this highly charged environment and finding their own path that legitimizes them not only as producers of art, but also has human beings. They need not only the chance to produce art, but also the opportunity to try their hands at engaging with the cultural players, with the institutions, the public, the financial sponsors and clients, so they can put themselves, their art, and their teachers and institutions to the test. Teachers do not necessarily have to know the answers to the pressing questions. Ideally, the teachers have been through these processes themselves and are able to help moderate the effects on the fledgling artists as well as to sometimes provide a target when needed.

Pia Fries studied sculpture in Lucerne and painting under Gerhard Richter in Düsseldorf. She lives and works in Munich and Düsseldorf. Following her professorship at the College of Fine Arts in Berlin, she has held a professorship of painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich since 2014. Her work is known internationally and has been shown in exhibitions and collections. Her extensive solo exhibition “Fabelfakt” is at Museum Kunstpalast in Düsseldorf until June 16, 2019.

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