Art in Berlin: Jen Ray

Jen Ray, photographed by Trevor Good
Jen Ray, photographed by Trevor Good

Trevor Good, a young and aspiring photographer living and working in Kreuzberg is the newest addition to our StilinBerlin team. In the future he will portray artists and other interesting figures of today’s Berlin for us. You can see his ongoing documentation of Berlin’s art-world here: GOOD + UP.
For his first portrait he chose Jen Ray, because, as he says: “Her artwork and her personality have truly inspired me for many reasons and I wanted people to know about her and her drawings.”

Ana Finel Honigman interviewed Jen Ray for an upcoming book accompanying her curational project “Saccharine” at Grimm Museum and we are delighted to publish an excerpt here.

Ana Finel Honigman: How would you articulate the tensions between opulence,
decadence and control in your work?

Jen Ray: If you look at the pure definition of decadence, it refers to
deterioration and decay, but when people refer to decadence, they are
usually referencing over-the-top behavior. I deal with that in my work but
I’m also interested in the breaking-down, be it positive or negative. The
women populating my drawings are destructive, yet they create this world for
themselves. They are the wild things, which can create negativity.
Radicalism often means you risk decay. When you push boundaries they
sometimes push back.

Anarchists rarely plan past their revolution.

Sure, they are more focused on the action. But my drawings always
show the ramifications. There will be a beautiful structure depicted in my
drawings with color and decoration, but somewhere you’ll see the structure
is crumbling. The destruction is part of my work. But I still want my
characters to go forth and do what they need to do. I don’t want to hold
them back. I just want there to be that constant push-pull. I want viewers
to see the same dichotomy in the small details hidden amidst the opulence. I
want a dirty newspaper to be seen against a golden robe.

Tell me about how your performances relate to the paintings and
drawings.

It was important to me when I began the performances to create
something visual that directly related to the drawings. I wanted the viewer
to get the impression of a drawing come to life. For my first performance,
“Last Call”, I gathered together a unique looking team of women and asked
them to wear costumes that in some cases were militaristic and others more
anachronistic looking, each slightly different. I surrounded them with
color, smoke, candles and glass. The main stage consisted of a full-sized
utility vehicle. Ihu Anywanu, a singer, performed Black Sabbath’s “Sweet
Leaf”. One of my main concepts was that I wanted a woman to sing a love
song to an object instead of to a man. The performer sang it with intensity
but she sang it to herself and to the women around her. No pandering to the
audience! Each woman was directed to look straight ahead as if she could
have cared less about the audience.

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  1. Hannah on

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    Wow – she sort of dresses like her painting! The colours and shapes are so bold and simple, and her paintings have that added softness in the watercolour – and the fabric in her dress looks soft. All together = best. Great pic, really well done!!

  2. Patricia on

    Reply

    Looking good Jen!
    Your circus pal. Pat C

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