A VISIT @ OMZB - ONE MILLION ZENTRALE BERLIN
EPHRA ON THE MOVE
Visit: November 8, 2022
Location: One Million Headquarters Berlin, Bradenbugische Str. 43, 10707 Berlin
TEXT BY EPHRA
Uli Aigner warmly welcomes us to her bright, comfortable and spacious apartment in Wilmersdorf, where her studio is located. (Apparently children live here too, because we discover a trampoline and knee pads from inline skating lying on the heater.) Uli's workroom is mainly furnished in white and has a fairly high level of humidity, because this is important for her material - so that it doesn't dry out. She hands us all a small lump of it that we can knead and model: porcelain. From this, Uli creates vessels and other things on the wheel.
We are excited and want to learn more about the artist and her work. Uli leads us into the living room with a huge wall of books and a porcelain-filled shelf on which a large table has been set up. We'll quickly take a seat there. Not only do the chocolate croissants that are ready lure us, but also the different drinking vessels in front of us. So this is Uli's work! Although the vessels are all made of the same material, they vary in shape: some are curved, others are cylindrical, some are large, others are small - they provide different drinking experiences and each item has a four-digit number carved into it. We drink tea while interviewing Uli:
Why does Uli actually work with porcelain? Uli says that when she was 13 she watched a woman make pottery. She has been fascinated by this skill ever since and knew she wanted to be able to do it too. According to Uli, the special thing about a craft is that you get better and better the longer and more often you do it. And you work with your hands, not just with your head. Two years after meeting Uli did a pottery apprenticeship, but later took a longer break and studied at the University of Art in Vienna, among other places. The artist tells us that she now spends an average of two days a week at the wheel and uses a ton of porcelain a year. 1 ton! That is 1,000 kilograms – an unbelievably large amount. When the porcelain arrives, you can't use it at first because it's not supple enough. Then you have to work and knead it with your hands. Sweaty hands and small skin particles cause green streaks of mold to form on the material, but that's a good thing. (So we helped Uli a bit earlier and prepared her porcelain!) The artist not only makes pottery, but also makes large colored pencil drawings, paints and takes photos. What else would you like to do? Paint the facade of a house.
Next we want to know from Uli whether she learned a lot about art at school. She denies that; in the Austrian village where she grew up, there was hardly any access to art. For this she often went to the Austrian National Library in Vienna and pored over art books. So she does not run out of inspiration even today. What else inspires you? Time! She feels the passage of time when she does something with and for others or when she communicates - just like with us. Another question comes to mind: Can Uli remember her first interview? She laughs and agrees: That was in 1986 and the interviewer, Georg Schöllhammer from the Viennese newspaper “Springerin”, asked her about the work she was exhibiting when she was an art student. She is at least as happy to be interviewed by us and promises to remember it for a long time!
We have already discovered that Uli's porcelain vessels are always scratched with a number. This is because each piece is unique, i.e. unique. With the project (which will continue beyond her lifetime) "One Million by Uli Aigner" her goal is to make one million objects. To keep track, Uli numbers her works and creates digital twins. You can view and buy the objects online - or contact Uli and have your own vessel made, for example in a similar shape to the jug 6393.
Uli likes the idea that people live with their art, use it every day and thus become part of the work of art themselves. In her own kitchen, too, all the crockery was made on her turntable. An online world map on their website shows where their work is located around the world - it's really fascinating.
Now we're going to be part of "One Million by Uli Aigner" ourselves: we think of vessels and draw them on paper while Uli turns them on the wheel. She laughs as she remarks that she has never made so many cups with ears! We are fascinated by how every little movement of her hands changes the structure on the turntable. We watch her spellbound and the atmosphere is very special - everyone comes to rest, almost like meditating.
Of course, Uli carves a number (7266-7275) into each object and writes down where we live. In a few weeks they will be fired and glazed, then Uli will give them to us. What a great studio visit! (And who knows: maybe Uli will soon receive many orders for vessels with our prototypes as templates?!)