Interview with Ivo Wessel
Sammlung Ivo Wessel - Berlin, Germany
What was the first piece of artwork you purchased, and when was this?
As this question is about the first buy and not the first work I collected, and I have been buying art works since I was a schoolboy and one isn’t really a collector yet then, and as I haven’t been in school for a long time now,- well, to make a long story short, I don’t know anymore. I do remember my first Documenta in 1977 and especially the next one in 1982 – the one with Joseph Beuys’ 7,000 Oaks. I bought an edition of that work then, which was definitely one of my early buys.
Why do you collect?
I don’t really know that either. Perhaps that is why one collects, to figure it out. It is an almost inexplicable phenomenon, art works at times almost seem to chase you – and in a way find their own collector. Perhaps one is a collector when you have no clear or sensible reasons to acquire a work.
Does your collection follow a concept or a specific theme?
No, or at least no conscious one. Of course you have your preferences, and it is nice when at times friends or visitors find a leitmotiv in the collection. But just as nice are surprises. I lean towards literary themes, science and technology, but when a gallerist recommends a work "for you, as a software developer and computer specialist", I am out the door.
Who are the artists you are currently following?
The number of "chosen ones", be it artists or writers, has stayed the same over the years. I resist the temptations of new artists with the help of unfulfilled wants for works by my favorite artists, namely Via Lewandowsky, Bjørn Melhus, Sven Johne, Stefan Panhans and Karin Sander. It is the same for new book releases, which then actually do not measure up to my evergreens of Joyce, Kraus, Perec, Proust and Wilde, which I re-read since my school boy days. I do really like Judith Schalansky as a younger author. I am also interested in the art works by Vandy Rattana, whose extremely moving video "The Bomb Pounds" opens my new endeavor VIDEOARTGARAGE during Berlin Art Week.
Do you have a personal relationship with the artists you collect?
Yes, in most and best cases. Most of the time these friendships are so close and full of respect, that as a precaution you still use the polite personal pronoun "Sie" to address them. And often, like recently with a smartphone-app of Bjørn Melhus as an art work for the construction site of the new Berlin airport, an inspiring collaboration comes alive. I, for instance, took over the programming of the iPhone-App.
Why did you decide to make your collection publicly accessible?
Apart from a need and want for discourse, there is also a sense of responsibility, to not let certain works disappear in your own collection. At VIDEOART AT MIDNIGHT, video art gallerist Olaf Stüber and I show video art in Kino Babylon in Berlin every month on a Friday at midnight, to be able to share an obsession like that is wonderful.
Which publicly accessible private collection would you recommend visiting?
If you are in Munich, you definitely shouldn’t miss the collection of Ingvild Goetz. She has recently gifted a part of her collection and the exhibition space designed by Herzog & de Meuron to the Free State of Bavaria. Likewise, the video art-centric collection of Julia Stoschek in Düsseldorf, it is not often you come across such perfectly staged and presented works in a publicly accessible space.
The collection of Ivo Wessel is included in the second edition of the BMW Art Guide by Independent Collectors which will be available in September 2013.