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Spiritual sense

Artist Joseph Marr was born in Sydney in 1979 of an English / Maori heritage and lives and works in Berlin. His work includes painting, sculpture, video and photography and it is always focused to issues of consciousness. In sculpture, he creates beautiful pieces working with sugar and resins mixing traditional and digital modern techniques. In his own words, sugar is a perfect metaphor of our relation with desire. His work has been shown in several solo and collective exhibitions in Germany and Australia. Next August 25th, he is going to present one of his sculptures in the group exhibition Lucy in the sky with diamonds as a part of the St Moritz Art Masters.

What does art mean to you?

For me, Art = Love. And for others Art means something else entirely, and that is whats so great about Art, it passes through layers of truth differently for everyone. You work video, prints and sculpture, always trying to play with reality to create something new. 

Is reality not enough or is it more about creating new points of view of it? 

New points of view is a nice way to put it! If we focus our attention on anything long enough we will see it from many angles, and if we are lucky maybe a seldom expressed interesting angle may pop up thats ready to be digested by people.

In sculpture you work with resins and sugar and the final result give us the feeling of being in front of something alive. Why did you chose this material?

Well sugar in various forms contribute to the building blocks of life in microscopic states for example in molecules in gas clouds in outer space or in the leaf’s on a tree, and then there is the well known refined form of sugar that we eat. As a medium its enticing and it can say so much depending on the context. For me personally I use it as a metaphor for attachment in a spiritual sense. I notice in my life as in everyone elses our suffering often stems from certain attachments, like wanting fame or fortune, wanting sex or power in various forms. Our pursuit for these things drives us uncontrollably towards the attainment of these things and often leads to all kinds of predicaments. Its these predicaments I try to show using sugar.

How is your creative process? Is there space for improvisation or every detail is decided since the early stages of your work?

The main aims are decided very early on, but with sugar there is no choice, there are always changes that are out of my control which are mostly more interesting than what was intended. 

What are the subjects that interest you artistically the most?

What interests me the most in art is how artists handle their subjects or their themes or their materials and if they achieve the goals they set out to, or if they have achieved more than this. Art is the master and we are the servants of it, if we think its the other way around then the work becomes contrived as if its a mathematical equation signifying the artists own intellect rather than anything transformative.

You were born in Sydney but you are based in Berlin. Why is Berlin a good place to develop your art?

Berlin is a great place for any artist at least for now, as the cost of living is low and there is just so much happening, so much energy for doing things. Its a fun place with certain freedoms that hardly exist anywhere else that I know of, for example the bars, restaurants and clubs have no official closing times, therefore no one is in a hurry which leads to a great atmosphere.

The exhibition "Lucy in the Sky with Diamons" is part of this year´s St. Moritz Art Masters. What are you going to present in it?

Yes, we are presenting a 170 cm blood red resin sculpture of a woman standing proud. The sculpture is about control, self control, control of desire. I wanted to try a medium that would work as an outdoor sculpture, as my sugar works are confined to indoors. 

I have new ideas for sculptures in blood red resin, and this was a chance to use a new material. My Sugar works are an ongoing series that I am sure I will continue through my life.

How the Swiss reception/reaction to your work differs compared to the European or American reception?

The Swiss are an open minded culture and I enjoy their friendly eccentric ways very much. We will present a life size sculpture of a woman in Resin.

What are your future projects?

I am actually painting with sugar at the moment and have plans for a big muscle man sugar sculpture next year. But as I mentioned the resin series will explore “Identity” as its theme. I am very interested in the last few years of our internal concepts of identity, how they form and the contrasts of fragments that make us up as individuals.

Could you tell us a dream that you've had while sleeping? 

Haha, I love this question, my dreams are never straight forward. A dream I had when I first came to Germany was that I was in a large factory like building but it had no walls, there were huge machines around, giant tractors bigger than a house. There were many animals around and I was feeding them Macdonalds. I was then asked by an art dealer if I could make my art back into paintings, and then another art industry guy was there and he held up a piece of paper and tore it in half. Whatever that means!?!

Exhibition: Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds
at Hotel Bernina 1865, Plazzet 20, 76020 Samedan, Switzerland
From 26 August - 3 September 2017

More at:

An interview by Juan Carlos Romero

Photos courtesy of Joseph Marr
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