Julius Von Bismarck

by Caspar Böhme

Julius Von Bismarck is energetically whipping a small piece of the majestic landscape to the point of physical exhaustion”*—Where artist Julius Von Bismarck enjoys some tea in an elevator with Flaunt

Did you dream last night?

Dreamed? Yeah, I dreamed but something sexual. It wasn’t about the city.

Do you get your dreams? Is it always in a loop? Where what you were dealing with a year ago, is coming back now?

Yeah, it’s all kinds of things. Sometimes its very obvious, the stuff that happened the day before, sometimes it’s some struggles I had a year ago. Like I learned Russian in school and I had those Russian exams. So, sometimes I’d still think that tomorrow is a Russian exam and I didn’t learn. But then a lot of sexual things also. You always have sex. It’s just something that comes up every night. So that was last night.

Are you able to control your dreams?

When they become sexual, yes. Not if it’s the other way around. If they become controllable, they become sexual, but then they’re not long lasting anymore because then I know it’s going to end. Once you control it, you know it’s a dream; once you know it’s a dream, you’re kind of close to waking up. You know, “Okay, yeah, I have a couple minutes to finish this dream.” So yeah, got to have sex. You can do whatever because you can control like you’re god in a dream.

I guess you face more constraints in art?

Yeah, but artists are supposed to be more free than other things. Sometimes you’re so frustrated as an artist because there’s so much stress and you don’t make enough money to do what you want to do or to pay your bills. Art is commercial and you don’t want to be a part of the commercial world. You don’t want to do the commercial works, but you have to do them in order to actually make some money to do the other works that you want to do but you couldn’t do if you wouldn’t do [the other thing]. In the end, I’m so happy that I can actually do what I’m doing. No other economy would support what I’m doing except for the art world. So, I’m very happy that it’s possible.

Well, it’s kind of like pushing constraints. [Böhme spills his tea] Sorry!

No no, it’s fine, I like it actually. It’s kind of like a performance of running tea all over little rivers. Becomes a landscape, your elevator, of the tea running around here.

My landscape is a big scene for you, no?

It’s always like you have the inside and you have the outside. So the outside is kind of the landscape you live in your environment. There’s like two parts of it, the natural part and the people part and the society you are in then the world you are in. Art history was always kind of picturing that world you are in. Because now the meaning of landscape changed, the meaning of nature changed, so redoing this is very simple again and again and again. In a different way it makes a lot of sense for me. It’s a different meaning now than it was ten years ago or 20 years ago. Nobody knows what landscape actually means right now. It’s a new kind of meaning that its just getting right now and art always helps to go at what’s important and to give meaning to certain things or to get a feeling or to give a visual to a certain kind of meaning.

Science is supposed to explain the world in one certain way. Philosophy is supposed to explain it in a different way. I’m not happy with the way philosophy describes nature right now because if you look at the Green Party, that was supposed to save nature, and if you look at the pretty good decisions that happened, and the program of the other parties, now it’s actually pretty green. If you would read what they write now it’s very green. In the end, it’s kind of also a fake green idea that is now everywhere. At the same time, you have the absence, you can see how less important god, or the church became. So there’s this process of a change, what people believe is good is changing, and what people believe is changing. Goes away from a more Christian value system to as a new value system that is influenced by what is supposed to be supported by science. I don’t understand it. I don’t find any philosopher that is explaining it to me in a right way, but I know it’s new: [in] a new system where god is less important, nature becomes more important. Everyone agrees that saving nature is something good. Doing good to nature is like the only thing people can agree on is good. There’s nothing else. The fight between capitalism and communism is kind of over. Everyone agrees that it’s something in between, and the extremes are not that good. Democracy is also kind of okay. What is good now? It used to be doing good, but now doing good is saving nature and that’s the only thing we can agree on. It seems like an incessant query people have. What is painting? What is photography? What is new performance? What is contemporary? I appreciate the sentiment and welcome that kind of recounting, but I’m suspicious of the way those questions frame artwork in such a hermetic space. Art should be more fluid and understood both in the context of art history but more importantly in the context of culture.

I think the term performance is helpful in understanding different art practices and methods they employ, but the answer to “is it performance or not” isn’t particularly urgent to me. Vito Acconci, undoubtedly a totem of performance art, put it best, “I stopped doing so-called ‘performance’ because I got too used to it. And also because I hated the word, but couldn’t find a better, more appropriate, more specific word.” STILLS FROM “Landscape Painting (Desert & Jungle),” (2015). 2-channel video projection. 28 min. Courtesy the artist and Marlborough Chelsea, NEW York.

Photographer: Sophie Caby at sophiecaby.com

* Bismarck, J. “Punishment,” juliusvonbismarck.com, n.d.