Who is Maurice Funken?
Maurice Funken our first Art people feature.
A perfect example of someone in the art world, with the drive to follow his goals.
Together with the support of his team, always on the look out for emerging talent offering support and guidance.
Art is about quality. To discover this quality in younger artists in particular, and then to promote them is the task of an art association, at least that's how we see it. -Maurice Funken
Please introduce yourself
My name is Maurice Funken, I studied art history in Aachen and York.
Since 2018 I am the artistic head and director of the NAK Neuer Aachener Kunstverein (an art association).
What is the NAK?
The NAK Neuer Aachener Kunstverein was founded in 1986, making it one of the younger German art associations.
We show exhibitions of contemporary art, whereby my curatorial focus likes to sound out the boundaries of art, that sometimes protrude into pop culture.
Since when have you been part of the NAK?
After my studies and various positions in the arts and culture, I started at the NAK in 2015 as curatorial assistant to the then head Ben Kaufmann.
When he left the NAK, I applied to be his successor.
What is the NAKs mission?
To show quality exhibitions, for which we find and present new, artistic positions, always in the hope of reaching a wide national and international audience and, ideally, inspiring them.
How much does this task fulfill you?
Working at the Kunstverein is a 24/7 job. Not only Beuys didn't have a weekend off.
But that's part of this job, and I am fine with it.
The job is great and offers me a lot of freedom.
Freedom in being able to choose exhibitions and projects myself, as well as having almost complete curatorial freedom.
What are your plans 2021 and which artists will be exhibited this year.
As soon as Covid-19 allows, we will bring the exhibitions planned for 2021 to the Kunstverein.
We will start with the performance artist Daniela Georgieva, whose project quixotic essence of a breath of movement / 1 × 3 will celebrate its purely digital premiere in February and March.
Georgiev brings together visual arts, contemporary dance, performance, fashion and music.
A very unusual project for me.
Then we show Maximilian Rödel, who will present new paintings under the title Celestial Artefarcts.
Then Thomas Dozol, the French photographer and concept artist's first institutional solo exhibition will follow in the summer.
Ghost Light, its title, is designed as an elaborate room installation and will almost transform the NAK, perhaps comparable to the Fischerspooner exhibition SIR from 2018.
Then we will show a duo show with Christine Liebich and Gerold Miller, both of whom show their love for the material Stagl unite.
I'm looking forward to every single one of these exhibitions, all of which have been planned for a long time and have already been postponed several times.
How are the general conditions during the corona pandemic.
In short: difficult. Funding and sponsorship money is missing, at times exhibitions are repeatedly being postponed due to new ordinances and regulations.
The coordination of the shows requires a high degree of flexibility from all those involved.
Here, one has to take the opportunity to praise the invited artists.
They do their best to deal with the situation through mutual consideration and benevolently and open minded, accepting necessary changes.
How important is the digital transition to you? Positive and also negative?
It is important in that it is currently the only way to get certain things out there.
We filmed exhibitions and communicated them in this way as early as 2020, and we plan to do this in the coming months as well.
For example with Daniela Georgieva's performance.
Digital is better. At least for the moment.
How do you see digitization based on the artists you are exhibiting? How do you deal with it, how much you use it or how important is it for your work?
Digitization does not apply to every artist in the same way.
Some exhibitions are simply more suitable than others.
Because they may even have digitality as a topic or consciously one aspect of the works is its digital use.
I am thinking of Thomas Dozol, whose exhibition, with the smartphone as the central theme, is certainly open to the digital world in terms of content.
But actually Videos, streams, artist talks, these concepts can be implemented for every presentation.
How important has Instagram become for the art world. What is your experience and does it aid you in your research?
Instagram has brought the art world closer together, which is great.
Is an exhibition just a PM away? Maybe. Nevertheless, as a curator you have to be able to filter, thousands of likes does not always equal quality.
An image can not replace the original.
A profile visit does not replace a visit to the artist in the studio.
Previous knowledge, instinct and a trained eye continue to play a major role here.
But there are still exciting discoveries to be made, especially when it comes to young positions.
What would you wish for in connection with digitization and social media?
Better quality content, fresh ideas.
For example, when dealing with new tools.
Think of Club House, a new app that is only based on audio.
In talks, people can easily come together in a playful way, including from the art world.
Only the content falls by the wayside, entertainment seems to me to be more important than well-founded discussions.
But that's where the art world could deliver.
Are there artists who you are particularly close to you, and how so?
Some artists I have known for years, accompanied them, followed their careers.
Incidentally, this closeness does not necessarily have to come about through exhibitions at the Kunstverein, although it is possible.
And even after a presentation at the NAK, the contact does not break off, it intensifies mostly.
And this also creates new contacts, which can then lead to new shows via the spinning networks.
This is what happened in the case of Fischerspooner and Casey Spooner.
Casey made contact with Thomas Dozol, whom we are now exhibiting.
And who knows where this show will lead to ...
For more on Maurice Funken:
additional Information about the history of Neuer Aachener Kunstverein Wikipedia
Follow the artists on Instagram:
Xavier Mary: @xaviermarysculpture
Jan Hoeft: @janhoeft_
Julia Scher: @securitybyjuliascher
Egan Frantz: @eganfrantz
Lars Eidinger: @larseidinger
Phantom Kino Ballett: @phantomkinoballett
Tom Król: @tom_krol
Timur Lukas: @timurlukas
Berit Schendereit: @beritschneidereit
Daniela Georgieva: @dgeorgievaart
Thomas Dozol: @thomasdozol
Christine Liebich: @christine_liebich
We thank Maurice Funken for sharing with us, and for his support towards emerging talent in the arts. Respect!