John Harten

John Harten is an artist and musician living in Berlin. His two creative outlets are Public Folder and Magazine: a formally open platform for print products and a record label, which are intertwined in many ways. Besides music – as a partner with Magazine, as an organizer, as a producer, as a DJ – Harten‘s medium is photography. He often works with found material, which he then manipulates through the use of digital techniques or assigns new meanings through recontextualization. He often chooses unwieldy images that convey or playfully imitate a certain documentary quality and thus transport a calm, matter-of-fact atmosphere. Nervosity is not his thing. A calm, clear view is. The tension arises between the pictures.

Public Folder – and the parallel Personal Folder – were there first. It is a serial book project, a magazine, also in the sense of a container, which has appeared in four editions over a period of 14 years. Each one has a thematic bracket - rave X change, Das Ich, Fussball, Golden Record - within which Harten compiles original works, both his own work and contributions by guest artists. He sees his curating function in the selection, arrangement and consideration of the guest‘s material, having granted total freedom for their contribution.

This is also a method he practices with Magazine. Friendship and trust. On the other hand, Harten uses the record covers as a canvas; he composes found images – loose, typographical, usually only two or three fields on a monochrome back- ground, a certain pale greyness, even if the motif is coloured, or architectural photography, even if the motif is a different one. He transforms the individual images into a narration that does not illustrate the album, the title and certainly not the music, but runs in parallel. He has never been interested in illustration. It‘s rather about a personal cartography, a kind of measuring. Harten seeks structures in the banal as well as in the sublime, makes references to art, history, to other artists. His work is a collection, an archive, his selection is always an assertion.

Himmel, Sterne, Rotzkaserne

John Harten - Himmel, Sterne, Rotzkaserne
26 April–16 Juni 2018
Opening:Thursday, 26 April 2018

Himmel, Sterne, Rotzkaserne is John Harten‘s first solo exhibition. The works shown were created in the period and context of work on the last edition of Public Folder. Harten published them under allusive pseudonyms in the book.

To describe his artistic approach here with the processing of found footage is not suitable. It is his own commissioned work, the motifs refer to original pictures, and finding was preceded by a targeted search: Golden Record is dedicated to a reinterpretation of the image on the eponymic record, which was sent into space in 1977 as part of the Voyager mission (with a record player and an explanation of how to decode the sound) with the idea of giving possible alien entities a glimpse of the Earth and humanity. Harten invited over a hundred artists to translate the encyclopaedic, iconographic advertising campaign of the 1970s for the present day. The result is a newly filled container, which was not sent into space, but which will report to modern man about our antiquated present day in forty years at latest. It‘s great fun! And a suitable measure in the best sense.

Text: Andreas Reihse

John Harten, Himmel, Sterne, Rotzkaserne, Installation view, 2018, Italic Berlin

John Harten, Himmel, Sterne, Rotzkaserne, Installation view, 2018, Italic Berlin

John Harten, Himmel, Sterne, Rotzkaserne, Installation view, 2018, Italic Berlin