The Telekom Art Collection is being enhanced with a new work of art. The installation “ONCE INFORMATION HAS PASSED INTO PROTEIN“ by the Polish artist Iza Tarasewicz is now on exhibit in the foyer at Telekom headquarters. Hans-Christian Schwingen, Head of Brand Strategy and Chairman of the Board of Trustees, is responsible for guiding the Group’s promotion of the fine arts.
Mr. Schwingen, why has Deutsche Telekom decided to establish own art collection?
First of all, you should know that Telekom acquired a number of artworks in the 1990s and during the first decade of new millennium. However, these works did not represent an actual collection – a certain continuity and context, among other criteria, must be fulfilled when establishing a viable art collection. Generally speaking, the artworks were displayed in our offices without any particular guidelines governing the acquisition and exhibition of these works throughout Telekom. In 2010 we decided that action needed to be taken: Should we keep following this “patchwork” approach, or would it not be much better to launch a new concept? With approval from executive management, several art aficionados in the company volunteered to serve on a new board of trustees that would look into the possibility of starting an art collection, with support from two external professional curators. Since Telekom is a business focused on communication, we believed that it was imperative for the company to integrate matters of social relevance in its “world of communication.” Today we have 200 works of art that represent a small but exquisite collection that enjoys a high level of acceptance among both experts and the general public. It should also be noted that the value of the collection has increased by 25 percent since its inception.
What is the concept behind the “Telekom Art Collection?”
It represents a watershed moment, so to speak. The focus of the collection is on the promotion of young artists in Eastern and Southeastern Europe – in other words, talents in those regions where Telekom established new business priorities when the iron curtain disappeared. These countries are quite exciting in terms of their art history because their cultures have have changed dramatically in just a few years – a new wave of artists and intellectuals have more freedom of expression than ever before. There are very few art collections that are based on works from these artists, and there is very little support for contemporary art in these countries. By the way, the Telekom Art Collection is being financed through the sale of older works that do not conform with the new concept. Our goal is to establish a unique collection that will have its very own independent relevance – we want it to be one of a kind.
The new installation in the foyer makes a clear and strong statement. What is the relevance of this work?
Modern art is not generally self-explanatory. Knowing more about the context can be helpful. In this case, for example, the title of the artwork alludes to a statement made by Francis Crick in 1958 concerning molecular biology. The hexagonal matrix structure with an almost invisible motion refers to current research regarding the storage and transmission of digital information in proteins. The multidimensional frame is constantly changing, depending on the observer’s point of view. If you come to realize that even our daily memories and experiences are stored as chemical substances in our brains, then you can see that Iza Tarasewicz has created a beautiful interpretation of relevance to our own self-conception and image – life is for sharing – or put another way: With Telekom everyone shares the life experience.
How do you like this artwork?
I think it is absolutely outstanding. What’s more, modern art is intended to be provocative and should even be irritating at times. This is key to opening up new perspectives. Art is not always there to please us or make us feel good. Conflict and protest are not only legitimate – they are also a sign of a healthy and lively culture based on debate. The bold decision of the trustees to commission Iza Tarasewicz with this artwork was based on many of her successful projects. In 2016 she represented Poland at the Sao Paulo Biennial and the Gwangju Biennial in Korea; this year she is designing her country’s pavilion at the Architecture Biennial in Venice. In her works she often draws parallels among technology, biology, physics and research in relation to intuitive and organic structures.
How long will the work be on exhibition in the foyer?
We plan to exhibit the installation at several Telekom subsidiaries or even at select museums whenever possible – it will be a “work on tour.” We want to make art available to a wide public audience. That’s why we have redesigned the foyer at Telekom headquarters. Some of our works are also being loaned to museums and exhibitions. And we are launching our own exhibitions in cooperation with partners. For example, we are supporting the exhibition “I Am The Mouth” at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Zagreb starting January 19, 2018. What’s more, you can see our collection on the Internet and via the free Telekom Art Collection App for Android and IOS.