Raphaela Vogel was born in Nuremberg in 1988 and is now considered the new comet in the sky. Well equipped with multimedia and musically talented, the artist dares the spectacle on the edge of horror movie, fantasy and fun fair effects in order to address absolutely existential topics. She studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Nuremberg, the University of Fine Arts Städelschule in Frankfurt and at De Ateliers Amsterdam.
Her solo exhibitions in Basel, Berlin, Munich and most recently Bregenz made waves. But she also took part in group exhibitions such as “Affective Alliances” at Callenberg Castle in Coburg. The catalog “Raphaela Vogel”, published by the publisher of the bookstore Walther König, shows her impressive installations. When the 31-year-old is not filming with drones or hoisting gigantic tarantulas and architectural models into the room, she is out and about in the world with her white king poodle – dog Rollo is the living mascot of the shooting star. Raphaela Vogel is withdrawing a little from the focus of attention. VOGUE met her before our March 2020 issue appeared in a Berlin café for an interview about the arts of seduction, the position of women, excessive demands and fear of death.
Your art is characterized by an exuberant imagination. And the bizarre narratives of your sculptures and videos seem to follow an inner logic much like in our dreams.
The dream logic is not a coincidence because I actually pay attention to my dreams and write down a lot . After all, that’s my production too. However, if I used dreams as scripts, it would only be belated surrealism. And I’m not interested in automatic production at all. My narratives are heavily constructed, from conflicting images. Not too much imagination, not too much reality!
It gives the impression that as a child you have spun your own cosmos.
I grew up alone with my mother and was relatively spoiled by her, a nurse. Growing up in the countryside near Erlangen might not always be nice, but it was definitely very safe. Because we had a big house, I was often allowed to change the inventory and try out a lot. We searched flea markets, and she too enjoyed piling up old things. My mother is still my extended arm today. For example, the street lights have recently been removed in our village. She collected the pieces and so I am now the proud owner of old street lamps.
And at the end of the day should a kind of “children’s theater for adults” emerge?
I think metaphors, pictures that are easy to get around, are very good. The precipices then appear later. After all, there is also good and bad children’s theater. Didactics or teaching is far from me.
You are considered a great narrator in contemporary art. But there is no conclusive story, the narrative threads seem to be lost in the loose like chain stitches.
I often sift through the video recordings for months and then only know where the errors that are important for my aesthetics are. Deficit moments are often the key to great openness, even in contrast to today’s video art of production value, where the images are very high resolution and sharp. And finally, I work with drone shots and a 4K resolution – a lot of things automatically have a high end. I therefore try to counter the false evidence of advertising aesthetics by deliberately allowing myself improperly crafted transitions when editing.
You often play a key role in your videos. As if that weren’t enough, the background music is also tackled with courage.
I learned accordion when I was a child, but I had piano lessons and sang in a choir. I don’t have a professional voice, but I still love singing. I also like to get out of sync on purpose. What fascinates me about the accordion is that there is something organic about blowing out the notes as if through a lung. But what is carried in the music goes very well with my films.
What part is your white king poodle taking on recently?
Initially, Rollo appeared more in the background, but at my solo show at the Kunsthaus Bregenz, he literally acted as a character in one of the films – at the time, Rollo was only my companion for a year. However, this does not mean that he will always play along from now on.
Although there are definitely diabolical moments in your art, Rollo is not necessarily a Faustian poodle.
Quite the opposite! Rollo has no “core” and certainly no evil. But it already stands for loneliness in the human context. Dog owners often have an abysmal relationship with their animal and assume social roles. This motif resonates, especially because the king poodle is so highly domesticated. He is anything but a wild animal, on the contrary, more than a well-kept companion. I am interested in what can fall by the wayside in a personal life, perhaps also as a reflection on my own artist life. Coincidentally, the dog is also called Effi Briest at Fontane Rollo.