Berlin has a new art foundation: Light Art Space. Director Bettina Kames talks us through its beginnings, big plans and ambitious first show.
Headed by art historian Bettina Kames, funded by an art-loving mobility mogul and counting among its inaugural team luminaries hailing from revered institutions like London’s Serpentine Gallery, Kunsthalle Basel and Berlin’s Gropius Bau, Light Art Space (LAS) is setting out to bring Berliners cutting-edge light-based art. The still homeless foundation is currently showing its first exhibition at Kraftwerk while already commissioning more work to be displayed in the new year.
How did LAS come into being?
Jan Fischer, our founder, patron and spiritus rector, and I first debated the ideas and concepts about four years ago. At the time I was involved with the Pinakothek der Moderne in Munich and that’s where we met. His background is in the mobility and transport sector and he supports a lot of museums and institutions. Our idea was to found a platform where we can showcase and debate issues that are relevant now but also in five, 10, 20 years.
And why did you decide to focus on light?
That was always the starting point – with light you can ask questions about who we are as humans. It’s also related to the newest developments in technology and scientific research. We always wanted to pursue this interdisciplinary approach, where you bring art and science and technology together. When we started thinking about this foundation, we also had the chance to meet James Turrell in Munich. As a well-known artist working with light he was one of the first people to be very encouraging. He said “you should do this, this is important, don’t get frustrated along the way”. And we took it from there, step by step.
You don’t have a permanent building in Berlin. Are you looking for one?
We actually had a location that we pre-developed for a year and a half, but at the last minute it turned out that it was not going to be our home, which was really very sad. So now we are looking again. However, since we already had the team and so many ideas and concepts, and because it will take at least two years to develop a new space, we decided to kick off our teaser programme in November. It gives us a little bit of time to experiment and sharpen our identity.
What awaits visitors at the Refik Anadol show at Kraftwerk?
Refik Anadol is really at the forefront of what’s possible with artificial intelligence. Latent Being is an installation on over 4000sqm that allows you to experience AI in a very direct and immediate way – you really become part of it as it develops! It’s an AI ecosystem in four chapters with different mediums. We have light projections, lasers and a huge LED screen. You can experience how a computer develops a consciousness about space and starts to dream about space. The final dreams become visible on the large LED wall.
Your mission statement says that LAS is “for all audiences”. How do you plan to draw in new audiences?
We are currently trying to set up a collaboration with Tresor which is in the basement at Kraftwerk. The idea is that everyone who goes to the club for the three-day extravaganza over New Year, would walk through our exhibition when they enter. And I really like that because sometimes I feel that institutions are very elitist and people don’t feel welcome. We really want to reach out to different groups, not just to the typical art crowd.
Will your next show be at Kraftwerk also?
No we are going elsewhere and there are many projects developing in parallel that are 80 percent there, but we can’t confirm yet. One of them involves quantum computing, the latest generation of computers based on quantum physics – it’s mind-blowing what they can do and what they will potentially be able to do…
So you will have an artist work with a quantum computer?
Well, it’s not a computer like the ones you can have at home. The hardware is tricky because for a QC to work you need to cool it down to minus 250 degrees. But IBM put their quantum computer in the cloud and made it available to institutions and universities. We commissioned a work that will most likely be developed by Robert Irwin using this open IBM computer. It’s really fantastic because Irwin is 91 and we really want to work with artists who were at the forefront of our field. We have the designs ready and it will be presented in 2020. It’s one of the biggest works he’s ever designed – I think it will be amazing.
Latent Being | Kraftwerk Berlin, Mitte. Through Jan 5.