“Artists Have to Give Up Their Names” | Artist Daniel Knorr | Louisiana Channel

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“In a moment when there would be no names, and maybe art would happen outside of the museum, it would be something that you don’t even call art.” Meet Daniel Knorr, a Romanian artist who triggers debate about the systems of the world we live in with his critical, colourful, and conceptual art.

“I try not to be self-referential because, to be honest, I have nothing to refer to. I don’t feel like I’m special,” says Daniel Knorr. “I just feel like I try to show the moment we live in as much as I can.” Coming to Germany from Romania as a teenager, Knorr began exploring the world of art through books: “I felt this kind of moment of freedom looking into art,” he remembers and continues: “Somehow I felt that I was outside of the society and can do whatever I can and want.” To him, art gives maximum freedom both to the artist and the person experiencing the art: “All of us are freed, in a way, by art. I think this is one of the reasons why art should be around us and in us.”

Daniel Knorr’s work doesn’t restrain itself from the traditional gallery walls. Often, you’ll find his work out in the open; balaclavas on statues in public spaces (Stolen History, 2010), smoke from the Zwehrenturm tower in Kassel (Expiration Movement, 2017), making artist books with valueless objects found on the streets of Athens (Artist Book, 2007-). “The ideas grow together, and they trigger the materials.” Knorr aims to make us think, talk, and discuss. This is what makes his work materialise, he believes. When representing Romania at the Venice Biennial in 2005, he presented this to the audience: an empty room. “It was a work that was critical towards the format of the biennale itself as a trans-national happening. But also, to the idea of the expansion of Europe towards the East and the idea of why Europe goes there based on values like economic, territory, and military.”

At Art Basel in 2019, Daniel Knorr made a performance called ‘Laundry’. Cars made in canvases rolled through a car wash, which instead of cleaning the canvas cars, sprayed them with multiple colours of paint, leaving the vehicle as a colourful and abstract painting. “It’s a work that reacted to the system of Art Basel itself. And how financial things are behind the scenes,” he says, referring to the connection between the wealthy and the art world. The idea for the work started in Los Angeles, which “is a car city,” as Knorr points out.

The series Depression Elevation are depressions and uneven spots on highways and streets cast in moulds. The depressions, or potholes, are “witnesses of our history,” Knorr says and continues to explain: “It’s a biopolitical phenomenon. It’s the street. It’s made industrial in a way that makes us quicker. We get from a to b; we’re productive.” The moulds have been produced worldwide: “I have a work; it’s a form from Munich. It’s from the Feldherrnhalle, which is a place full of history. The nazis started, more or less, the Second World War there,” Knorr explains of the now democratic place. “I did a piece there where I put some pink in it, and I used different colours, but pink is in the middle. I call it ‘The Rebirth of the Pink Panther’. But Pink Panther, you have to know, is also a right-wing organisation and it’s totally related to this in a critical way.”

”Art now becomes industrialised,” Daniel Knorr reflects: “We live in a moment where everything gets evaluated.” He is mindful and somewhat critical of collecting, which he thinks is a way of building an identity: “Buying work and putting it inside is the highest moment of a system. A state finds its highest representation in its art.”

Daniel Knorr (b. 1968) is a Romanian artist living in Berlin, Germany. His works employ a vast variety of materials with everything from smoke to cocaine. Knorr studied under Daniel Spoerri at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich. In the 1990s, he moved to Berlin and represented Romania in the 2005 Venice Biennale with the work European Influenza. In 2017 he debuted the work Expiration Movement at documenta 14 in Kassel and Athens. His works are held in the collections of the Migros Museum in Zurich, the Stasi Museum in Leipzig, and the Pinakothek der Moderne in Munich.

Daniel Knorr was interviewed by Roxanne Bagheshirin Lærkesen at his studio in Berlin, Germany, in March 2022.

Camera: Mark Nickels
Produced and edited by: Roxanne Bagheshirin Lærkesen

Copyright: Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2022

Louisiana Channel is supported by Den A.P. Møllerske Støttefond, Ny Carlsbergfondet, C.L. Davids Fond og Samling and Fritz Hansen.

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