Peter Moritz Pickshaus in conversation with Katharina Sieverding, 2019
Pickshaus: What does it mean: "Die Sonne um Mitternacht schauen [To look at the sun at midnight]?
Sieverding: That is an exercise for initiates1: You imagine the sun through the middle of the Earth, so it appears in a comlementary way. For me it's a strong image.
"Thou shalt not speak against the sun". One looks at the sun with regard to the Earth. You bear responsibility for the Earth. These are spiritual exercises. They have nothing to do with natural sciences and digital codes.
Pickshaus: ... and with NASA?
Sieverding: NASA and its probes cannot comprehend the mystery of the sun. Where plasma and radioactivity reign, nothing and no one will ever be able to land.
Otherwise there is little respect for cosmic territories, and their colonization is impending. That will not happen with the sun.
Pickshaus: Can you capture in words the chemical and animistic dimension of working in the darkroom?
Sieverding: It is the inscription of the outside world into my visual world. When the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf was closed in 1969 I developed photos myself for the first time. On Agfa P90. That was a very thin photo paper. The most amazing experience: In the darkroom something comes at you with lightning speed out of the developer. You are not the maker so much as the recipient. This process of transformation: This is the sun at midnight.
1 "If one learns to look through the astral material, one will see the sun at midnight: first initiation [...]." Steiner, Rudolf: Die Mysterien der Druiden und Drotten, Berlin, 30. September 1904 (notes), in: Steiner, Rudolf: Die Tempellegende und die Goldenen Legende als symbolischer Ausdruck vergangener und zukünftiger Entwicklungsgeheimnisse des Menschen, Dornach 1991, p. 46.
Source: Peter Moritz Pickshaus/Katharina Sieverding: "q&a" (Interview), in: Bärbel Schäfer: Katharina Sieverding Am Falschen Ort II, Dachau 2019, p. 106f.
born 1944 in Prague
lives and works in Duesseldorf
From 1963 Katharina Sieverding studied at Hochschule für Gestaltung in Hamburg before she transfered to the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf as assistant and student of the stage designer Theo Otto. Later, in 1967, she transfered again to the class of Joseph Beuys and graduated as his master student in 1972. Sieverding became famous for her large-scale photographs that she produces since 1975 and which are considered as an important extension of the expressive possibilities within contemporary photography. In her serial photography that works with cross-fading and often shows self-portraits, she reflects on her own identity and takes a stance on political and social issues. Sieverding detects the important conflicts of today and critiques prevalent social issues through her art. Her works for "Schlachtfeld Deutschland" and "Deutschland wird deutscher" even sparked a scandal.
Sieverding has been awarded the Preis des Kunstfonds (1981), the Deutscher Kritikerpreis (1994), the Kaiserring der Stadt Goslar (2004) and the Käthe-Kollwitz-Prize (2017).
Solo exhibitions took place at Museum Folkswang Essen (1977), Städtisches Museum Abteiberg Mönchengladbach (1984), Nationalgalerie Berlin (1992), German Pavilion at the Venice Biennial (1997), Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam (1998), K21 Düsseldorf (2014), Bundeskunsthalle Bonn (2017). Sieverding also took part in documenta 5, 6, and 7.