Interview with Zasd

Who is Zasd?
Zasd: Zasd (or Zast) is not a person, even though the name is connected to me as the title of the book refers to. Zasd is a name that I came up with in the early nineties. And in the years from 1991 to 1999 I was Zasd, and my Zasd-tags multiplicated my physical presence all over the city. Then I recognized that Zasd is not me but a sign that represents itself only. The sign became an object which I could transform and transcend. So Zasd is not me. Zasd is an useless thing. It is material to work with. Eventually, Zasd became a vehicle to explore and shape space.

Please describe your artwork.
Zasd: The city is a vital space to me. People meet, observe themselves, they effect each other. This happens in moments which are not predictable. As an artist, it is important to me to transform the city as a space, without announcing where and when it will happen. So my work might be less predictable for the observer. I determine place and time (the start) of an artwork and I can try to transform a place without asking other persons for permission – just like rain falling (not a disastrous rain of course). I understand this as the positive power of art: It is always there, also in other states of aggregation than those we experience art in galleries and museums. To recognize art to be a natural factor of life, brings us back to life just like air to breathe and water to drink. That’s why my work welcomes others to change or remove it. If untouched, they just fade. The street gets sweeped. The water dries. Such an artwork does not exist as a permanent and fixed factum which somebody put down on somebody else. It is a real ingredient of everyday life, a transforming state. Art is a state. I can see it now, but later not anymore. No right, no wrong. When I work like that it is not my aim to destroy things, nor to do harm or to disrespect anybody. Still art which is not recognized as art – due to its state – and which was not ordered to become a part of the city could be perceived as damage or rubbish. From my perspective questioning the perception of life and art and its suspected rules produces vitality.

What influences/inspirations do you look at?
Zasd: It seems like I am often looking for ways to send an impulse in to the world which I could describe as a first contact, a sign of vitality. My works deal with the trouble of being a lonesome person trying to live in this world. I try to connect myself with the world, I put things together, I meet people in order to produce works that can stand on their own. Everything I do has to do with shaping the world in terms of producing space in which I think I can live better. I am a Stadtpflanze (city flower). Good life and art education was not where I started. I grew up under difficult conditions. Doing something creative and active was my strategy to survive serious threats that were real to me. I need to stay vital. Up to now I was not able to sit still and wait for the darkness to overwhelm me.

Did your art education influence your thoughts and your graffiti writing?
Zasd: My studies of sculpture and art has given me a free space. I worked intense and creative for six years and became clear about many things. I think it’s good to exchange ideas with others who study there, and have very different ideas.
The study was free. They left me alone but also challenged me. But they didn’t educate me for the art market. At that time I developed a relationship between sculpture and writing.
I’m indebted to Prof. Berndt Wilde and Prof. Inge Mahn, who then taught at the Art Academy in Berlin Weissensee.

Do you differ between writing and contemporary art?
Zasd: Writing can be art if it steps out from the craftsmanship and a ”trendy” or ”gangster” outward teenage rebellion. I think it is also about experience and living through certain phaces in the life of a writer. In the beginning being there is everything. Then, being up there – and get fame. And then?
When the widened study of writing; names, tags et cetera, the letter forms of graffiti and it’s elements like the letter itself, urban spots, personal and foreign handstyles, creation and destruction, including social aspects and feelings from life, the ambivalence of innocence and guilt in youth and in later life and much more is reflected and transcended, then that might perhaps be art.
There is no red thread, but new forms are developing, old forms getting disassembled, caress of traditions and the perfection of established graffiti forms. Executed with devotion all can finally open our eyes and enrich our own lives.

In some of your work you mix visual art and music. What is the biggest challenge in working with musicians?
Zasd: It is a way to communicate with each other just as if you need to communicate with somebody whose language you are not able to speak. But you like the sound of this strange language. And you try to get together somehow. Meeting the musicians in live sessions demands me to leave everything I normally do behind in order to experience something I could not imagine before. I am failing to do so quite often.

What’s up next?
Zasd: I am working on a small book which is showing objects that got transformed in a chain of action during walks through some cities. I am figuring out how things might be connected to each other. I use instant photography to document this whole thing.

Get your copy of ”Knowing Zasd by his Walk” here!

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