Jürgen Gässler is a german artist who creates bizarre but fascinating sculptures of old doll parts combining with scrap pieces like old wood boxes, broken mirrors or anything else he can find and use for his ideas. His art pieces has a strong statement. We wont to know more about his story.
Nomad: You're not a "capital child", what brought you to Berlin?
Jürgen Gässler: I come from Tuttlingen. Tuttlingen is located in Baden Württemberg between Stuttgart and Freiburg. I came to Berlin in 1979 to avoid the military service. At that time, Berlin was subject of the Four Power Agreement. This means that the city was divided among the victorious powers of the Second World War. West Berlin belonged to the sphere of influence of the USA, Great Britain and France, East Berlin to the Soviet Union. Around and through the city there was – as is known – the Berlin Wall. The military service for male inhabitants in West Berlin was not obligatory. That was my main concern at that time, to move to this city. Today, it is different, military service in Germany is voluntary and now women can also serve. After the fall of the Berlin wall in November 1989, I moved to East Berlin in spring 1990, where I still live today.
Nomad: You sold your photographs to a museum at a very young age, tell me how this happened?
Jürgen Gässler: Yes, that is true. In 1983 an art critic from the Museum of Modern Art "Humlebaek" near Copenhagen (Denmark) came to Berlin. He looked for photographs on the subject of "Homo Dekorans" (the man who documents himself), for a large exhibition project in the museum. Painting, sculptures, photography related to slide shows and video installations were collected. At that time, I photographed, among other things, punks and transvestites from the Berlin scene, and had also produced my first photo-video titled "IMAGE VICTORY I, which had its world premiere at Cafe Swing on Nollendorf platz. The art critic showed interest in my work and 12 of my photos landed in the exhibition in the museum. For me, this was an incredibly big thing and of course it strengthened my creative power.
Häuptling/Chief and Frühchen/Preemie
Nomad: How did you transition from photography to creating sculptures from found objects? What attracts you to used items? Why do you use them in your art?
Jürgen Gässler: Already in the 80s, I framed my photos in scrap pieces like old metal parts, screwdrivers, ammunition, preferably totally rusted. I covered them with varnish. Occasionally also the photographs. My interest at the time was to conserve these old and rusty parts and to work them up for a suitable presentation. I have been moving for decades, (oh that sounds like I am very old) and love visiting scrap-places like flea markets. These pieces help me understand where we come from or how our fathers and grandfathers lived. Anyway I feel good when I am well surrounded by old rummage and junk! Today, I collect everything I like for my objects, given that I have the necessary money for it. I would like to emphasize, I do not neglect my photography. My camera is still my companion and I collect my photos at least as much as the "junk" for my objects.
Nomad: How are your works created? Are you looking for a certain piece when you buy something, because you have a clear idea, or do you get the idea when you discover a certain object?
Jürgen Gässler: Both possibilities are suitable. Sometimes I have an idea or a title and search for something proper and sometimes I see something and get an idea. I am relatively open because both variants have their charm. The difficulty comes in reconciling the size of those parts, with a doll or a doll's head. Often you have a great find but not the appropriate doll or vice versa.
Eat Me, Schöpfung/Creation, Türsteher/Bouncer
Nomad: Your sculptures in context with the title have a very clear message...
Jürgen Gässler: My titles play an independent role, whereby they are not binding. They are often simple and obvious, but occasionally also full of irony. They direct the viewer in one direction and frequently they themselves, depending on the subject matter, invent their own titles. Always interesting to experience!
Nomad: What is your motivation for your work?
Jürgen Gässler: Letting off some steam is certainly a motivation! Creative work gives me the necessary scope for perceived freedom. I can relax and occasionally even give a touch of solace to my soul. I am human and understand myself as a humanist. I am surrounded by things and human behaviors which I am not comfortable with and which concern me such as wars, human trafficking, arms trafficking, child abuse, or any form of mistreatment, clashes, pollution; I could go on. Why does a man tick as he ticks? I ask myself again and again. I would also like to mention the moments of happiness and the good in man, and they also concern me as much. For example children, family, friends and all the soul-related artists, the beauty of nature, willingness to help, we do not forget the love, the ease of being and much more. Also these influences motivate me in my creative work.
Nomad: Your creations are sometimes really shocking, but always humorous. How would you like to be understood as an artist?
Jürgen Gässler: I think I can say I am a relatively positive person, with a certain affection for English humor. This is reflected in my works of art and the titles often add to
the humor. I do not think, however, that all of my works are humorous, some of them carry the necessary seriousness. My goal is not to shock, that is far from me, rather shake up would be
more aptly said; come down from the sofa, mingle, become active, become creative, live! If that succeeds, I feel well understood! That my opinion does not always coincide with that of the viewer
is self-evident in art.
Nomad: What do you think when the viewers sees your work as gloomy?
Jürgen Gässler: This is happening again and again, especially with visitors who are approach my objects with this expectation the beautiful doll and the doll's house". As a rule,
there is only one answer: life is harder!
In my objects that have to do with dolls whose arms, legs, or head has been demolished, it is legitimate to consider this as gloomy. On the whole, the viewer comes to terms with it. I, however, have not heard that my art has left lasting damages.
Opfer/Victim , Familie/Family
Nomad: What would you say are you more interested in politics or society?
Jürgen Gässler: Rather society! Of course, I am also politically interested and represent definitely my opinion but society and the interpersonal is closer to me.
Nomad: In your more recent works you use broken mirrors. Is this only for the aesthetic aspect or is there a certain meaning behind it?
Jürgen Gässler: Not all my works carry a message. A broken mirror, however, stands among other things as a symbol of a broken soul! A sad looking or even injured doll, embedded in mirror shards may seem aesthetically pleasing, but there is actually something more.
Nomad: What plans do you have for the near future?
Jürgen Gässler: At the moment I am working on a photo book about dolls, let's see if a publisher finds it. Personally, I wish that we would remain healthy and fight for the good in man. The rest of the story tells life.
Burn out , Gentest/Genetic Testing