“It’s pretty important people feel and understand the whole universe. Whether they like it or not, the most important thing to me is that everyone leaves with a deep emotional impression,” explains stylist and regular HERO contributor Erik Raynal, speaking about his recent group exhibition, Sound & Noise.
Together with SORT Zine, the London based multidisciplinary creative studio founded by in 2015 by Joseph Delaney and Matt King, Raynal was tasked with piecing together an immersive installation of work taken from SORT’s upcoming fourth issue. The idea was to reimagine the print project within a physical space, combining photography, video, sound, light and live performance for a nine day installation at Space_31 gallery, in the heart of Berlin’s Shoneberg district.
From Amy Gwatkin‘s sensual photographs and Joseph Delaney‘s film piece, to live performances by Alobhe, a reading by subversive Russian artist Slava Mogutin and set design by Joshua Höareau, Raynal was tasked with calibrating this diverse array of media into a coherent space that reflected SORT’s unique visual identity. According to the release, Sound & Noise is about creating a “hedonistic area of free expression,” and “a world of quiet strength and subtle variety…the harshest noise, the brightest lights and the blackest shadows”. Quite the billing. We spoke to Erik about the challenges of curating and how he sees the show as an extension of Berlin’s immersive nightlife.
Finn Blythe: How did the exhibition come about with SORT?
Erik Raynal: I met the SORT guys about a year ago and I really like what they’re doing. We also really wanted to work together on one of their upcoming zines or other projects and it just happened that I was already thinking of curating a first show in Berlin so it made sense to ask them to be part of it.
FB: The contributing artists represent a cross section of media and form, from set design to music and photography. Was there an emotion or aesthetic that guided your selection of artists?
ER: For this first show, as it is also a collaboration with SORT, it was really important to involve a team that understands and feels their very particular aesthetic and universe. That mean we chose people who are involved in the collective and the upcoming zine, but also close artists and friends that could develop the SORT universe and bring depth into an exhibition context.
FB: This is your first time curating a collaborative show, what sort of challenges did you face?
ER: We were working with a lot of different teams so it was a question of coordination and planning ahead and during the show. Because it was a collaborative project we had to make sure everyone felt they had the enough involvement and were satisfied with the outcome.
FB: Did you have a preconceived idea about how the works would interact or did that only come with the installation?
ER: We’d been studying the whole space a bit and thinking carefully about the different works we were collecting for the show. The main idea, as well as the aesthetics, were already conceived, but it is true that there were some major changes and adjustments made once we started actually building and shaping the space. The installation was pretty key to the structure of the show and was obviously the last thing we did before the show opening.
FB: How does the exhibition dovetail with SORT’s upcoming fourth issue?
ER: Most of the artists involved in the show will be part of the SORT’s up coming issue, all the prints will be also in it, some of the videos playing have also imagery that will be exclusively printed there! The importance of sound also results in the fact that SORT’s upcoming issue only features artists in various series shot by different teams.
FB: Do you see a connection between the works exhibited and the city of Berlin?
ER: To me, SORT’s universe is pretty London but has a huge connection to Berlin and its rave and underground scenes. The roughness and sense of obscurity you might feel while walking around the show has a pretty deep connection with the Berlin underground and its immersive parties!
FB: What do you want visitors to leave the exhibition feeling?
ER: It’s pretty important people feel and understand the whole universe. Whether they like it or not, the most important thing to me is that everyone leaves with a deep emotional impression. I want them to feel as though they were really part of an experience and to continue having thoughts and feelings about what they’ve seen for several days after.