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Arnolfini - est 1961

A talk by artist Johann Arens.

Johann Arens uses installation and video to survey the documentary properties of public interiors. By systematically re-editing the hardware of a location he draws up an abstract inventory of the social textures inherent in the site. His work is an enquiry into the role of mobile interfaces, the mechanisms of user behaviour and the desire to touch artefacts.


Arens’ employs the language of both sculpture and film and set in motion a direct comparison between visual culture and actual social space. He merges elements of a seemingly incongruous nature; domestic interiors alternate with stylised film props; institutional and scientific work environments transition into exhibition facilities and found memorabilia is reconstructed in computer-generated landscapes. Through a body of work produced in different material and media, visual artefacts are framed in a non-hierarchical order; the object is not approached as a monument but merely as a public situation. 

His recent project ‘100 Arches’ is a permanent installation for the two sites of St John’s Primary School in Bristol as part of the Primary Capital Programme, commissioned by Arnolfini in conjunction with Art in the Public Realm Bristol.


Johann Arens (b. 1981, Germany), lives and works in London and Amsterdam where is currently attending the Rijksakademie voor Beeldende Kunsten. Recent solo presentations were ‘Internet Centre & Habesha Grocery’, Paradise Row, London, 2013, ‘Apple and Pear’ at ASC Gallery, London, 2012 and ‘Effect Rating’ in De Service Garage, Amsterdam, 2012. Group exhibitions include ‘TTTT’, Jerwood Space, London; ‘Hard Copy’, Pastificio Cerere, Rome, 2014; ‘Institute for Mathematical Sciences’, Flat Time House, London, 2013; ‘Members Show’, Outpost, Norwich; ‘Young London 2012’, V22; ‘A useful-looking useless object’, Sierra Metro, Edinburgh; ‘I’ll explain you everythiinnngggg’, Chert Berlin, ‘New Contemporaries’, ICA London, 2010 and No Soul For Sale’ Festival at Tate Modern, 2010.