Spiritus - Honey-Suckle Company
Spiritus - Honey-Suckle Company
A detailed history of the HSC has yet to be written, and it will pose a difficult task to art historians, especially given that so far the HSC has cleverly defied any attempt at pigeonholing their multifarious activities and manifestations. However, during the past few years the HSC has decided to give more definite shape to their intimate collaboration in several installations, realised as immersive and iconographically complex settings, in an ambiguous way reminiscent of many past poetics and movements in art, but also, in their structure, of religious heterodoxies and holistic philosophical systems.” Adam Szymczyk, director documenta 14
Honey-Suckle Company wanted to start a youth movement. The legendary group was founded in Berlin in 1994 and was moving in the subcultural circles of the post-Wende times, around the nightlife and social groups which they influenced with their projects in the public spaces of Berlin Mitte. In the beginning outside the art world HSC organised happenings and exhibitions in places like Friseur or the Suicide Club, and held gigs with their band Batterie ON/OFF. The legendary galerie berlintokyo (1996-99) at Hackescher Markt became such a self-organised location, on top of which HSC had their studio. In 1998 Klaus Biesenbach und Hans-Ulrich Obrist invited them to be part of the first Berlin Biennale.
The name Honey-Suckle was from the start a conceptual element in their approach as a group and referred to one of 38 essences of the honey suckle therapy. Honey-Suckle helps to learn from the past and to invest in the present time while looking ahead. In that way HSC worked like an “avant-garde production team” with fragments from Bauhaus, the Russian avant-garde or spiritual societies like Lebensreform in projects that built upon each other. The individual contributions of members who each specialised in a certain artistic field had to hold a step back in favour of the collective authorship.
Exhibitions and site-specific installations followed at PS1 New York (Children of Berlin, 1999), Künstlerhaus Stuttgart (Eswerde, 2003), Cubitt Gallery London (OHN END, 2005) and Kunsthalle Basel (NON EST HIC, 2006). The aesthetic elements and associative installations were further reduced and led to the, so far, last exhibition Materia Prima in 2007 at Kunstverein Harburger Bahnhof, where the group literally dissolved into essences: Each member could only be experienced as a fragrance essence.
This book is a retrospective monograph covering, for the first time, the complete artistic and inter-disciplinary oeuvre of Honey-Suckle Company over the last 20 years – with documentations, numerous photos, scenic installations and extensive material from the artists’ archive; accompanied with texts by Abel Auer, Philipp Ekardt, Lina Launhardt, Michael Hiltbrunner, Reimo Herfort/Franz Schütte (Jeans Team), Tim Voss and Lily Wittenburg.
The work of Honey-Suckle Company unfolded against the backdrop of an emerging transformation and gentrification of Berlin Mitte, which makes this monograph a rare document of a different time.
Designed by Hendrik Schwantes