“We see our role as an an artist-run space differs very much from a commercial gallery. The space functions more as a platform for the artists to experiment with their work in exchange with fellow colleagues and neighbors”
AT: How did you start engaging with the art world and how/when did you decide it could become your profession?
We met ten years ago when we all started studying fine art at Kunstakademie Duesseldorf. Towards the end of our studies we moved into a shared studio and decided to open the off-space “sonneundsolche” together.
AT: What convinced you opening your own space?
While looking for a studio, we found an interesting space in the heart of Duesseldorf. Part of it is a large window show case which is 24/7 visible from the street – the architecture and location provided a perfect opportunity to open a new off-space.
AT: Do you remember the first show you organized? What it was like to be an emerging space?
After months of renovating, we opened our studio to the public by showcasing our own works and presented the new off-space to friends and colleagues. The first year was challenging but also exciting – as we were simultaneously working on our upcoming graduation shows. For the first curated exhibition at sonneundsolche we invited Mariam Odishelidze, Jan-Luka Schmitz, Willi Beermann and Denis Oechsle. Eventhough the first exhibitions were quite spontaneous, we had a lot of visitors and felt the interest from the surrounding art scene was growing. We were eager to continue and expand our organized program.
Damaris Kerkhoff & Jieun Lim, Noir, 2018.
AT: What are the toughest and the most fulfilling aspects of your job?
Being a low-budget, non-profit initiative we cannot always provide the artist with the proper funding they deserve. It’s tough to experience that it is a common standard to work for free in the art world. Applying for funds is a pretty tiresome job but we are trying to get the best out of it for our artists. Nevertheless we love the exchange with the invited artists. It is thrilling to get to know specifics about their artistic practices, their general backgrounds and local art scenes. It’s great to meet the artists on both a professional as well as a personal level by working with them and supporting them during their preparation processes.
AT: You are 3 artists to run sonneundsolche. How is managing an off-space and at the same time pursue your own personal artistic research?
Organizing an exhibition space is very time consuming, but working on our individual projects – studio work, exhibitions and residencies – is always prioritized. Even during Pia Krajewski’s and Antonia Rodrian’s residencies in Berlin and Tel Aviv we continued running the off-space as a team. We try to support each other and share responsibilities as much as we can.
AT: In the last 3 years you organized 26 exhibitions, including both group as well as solo shows with national and international artists. How do you select the artists to collaborate with?
It is a mixed bag: we choose artists whose work we like, who we find online, or knew before. Artist we always wanted to meet or would love to support. Sometimes artist contact us and apply for an exhibition. And sometimes we invite an artist to bring a collaegue along. We do exchanges with other off-spaces and invite curators to develop a show. We are always on the lookout…
Maria Wallace & Manuel Stehli, Little Room For Wildness, 2020.
AT: Does your gallery have a specific and coherent thread passing through the exhibitions? Why this choice?
Not really. We are trying to share a sense of community with fellow artists, giving them space to develop their own projects. Being three young female artist, naturally we have a slight emphasis on supporting fellow female colleagues.
AT: How important is ‘networking’ in your job? How do you relate with your same-field colleagues?
To some extend networking is always part of the business.
AT: What is the role of the digital tool in what you do?
Instagram, for example, is a useful tool to reach visitors as well as interesting artists. But in the end it is just a mean of communication – you have to come by to see the show.
Franka Scholz, Unsteady State, 2018.
AT: What do you think will be the role of the galleries and artist-run spaces, in the next future?
We see our role as an an artist-run space differs very much from a commercial gallery – our focus does not lie on the profit of an artwork but the space functions more as a platform for the artists to experiment with his*her work in exchange with fellow colleagues and neighbors. These kind of in between spaces play an important role especially in the early stages of a young artist’s career.
AT: Next projects on site?
We are working on our schedule for 2021 right now. It will be a mix of solo and group shows, as well as another off-space exchange.
AT: If you had to give some advice to a youngster who wants to open a space, what it would be?
Create a community and don’t be afraid of the bureaucracy of funding applications…
“Ventilator” Jan Luka Schmitz, 2017
sonneundsolche is an off-space run by the artists Antonia Freisburger, Pia Krajewski & Antonia Rodrian, all graduated from Kunstakademie Duesseldorf in 2017 and 2018. In 2017 they opened the exhibition space sonneundsolche and turned the adjoining workspace into their own studios. They started with almost spontaneous exhibitions, trying to share a sense of community with fellow artists, giving them space to develop their own projects. It was always important to them to have a lot of exchange with the invited artists, creating a supporting atmosphere instead of everybody elbowing their way by themselves. As the conversations with their colleagues grew, the perception of the space did too. They moved from inviting mostly local artists to also hosting shows with artists from other places and different art scenes. In the last 3 years they organized 25 exhibitions, including both group as well as solo shows. Being three young female artist, they have a slight emphasis on supporting fellow female colleagues.