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10.05.2013 Text: william de worde // Pix: gerhard hoehn

Recycle Guru

Gerhard Hoehn is one of a kind, he truly lives his art and is on duty 24/7.

Gerhard, a pleasure to welcome you to our network, I am watching your art for quite a while now and finally we come together, sitting in your atelier surrounded by some of your pieces. Do you have an artist name?

I use the name ‘Art Unlimited’ or ‘Kunst für morgen’ (means ‘art for tomorrow’) as I do not like to use my real name so much. Both names mean basically the same, it describes an art that has no boundaries and does not exist yet as this is what I like to do, new things, not a repetition of something else.

How long are you in Ibiza?

2003 was the year I came down to Ibiza to live, a few years earlier I came here to party but finally I got offered a job to redo the terrace of the former Kiss club (now Sankeys) in Playa d’en Bossa. Finishing this job I got a call from Manumission to do their stage so I had a good income which I did not have in Germany at this point – so I stayed.

Well and the job offer was a unique one!

In Germany I already worked for Clubs and Festivals doing stage design so it was nothing new to me but yes, it was a very good offer.

Did you ever regret to have come down to Ibiza?

You can’t compare both countries but no, definitely not. At some point I wanted to leave the island so got myself a sailing boat to travel the world, restored it but then I realized I had no clue about sailing and having to learn something is not my thing, if i want to i can do anything but if I have to… so I finally decided to stay here.

It is as in so many cases, the island spits you out or does anything to keep you on it.

And the longer you stay the more you think ‘what shall i do anywhere else?’, I feel home here even if it is still hard to make a living but I can survive and the island’s beauty and its not-so-bureaucratic way of living is a more than enough reward for all the efforts.

Are you an autodidactic person or did you study art or anything like it?

No studies, I learn everything myself, like this I will manage to achieve what I want in my very own manner.

How would you describe your art until now?

First of all I don’t know if you can call it art, I see it as my job so it is hard to describe it?

You do things of great size with certain materials.

Yes I definitely like to do it big (laughter), and I like to do sculptures that do not have a direct use. Before when I was working in stage design it all had a specific use but lately it is of no obvious sense and I like to have challenges in working with materials and oversizes, I am definitely getting bigger.

Your preferred materials?

Steel is essential, if possible stainless as it is eternal, then comes glass, cement, other metals, no wood as I don’t like so much to work with wood.

Let’s talk about your new project, ‘Recycle Guru’. How did that come to life?

It was a spontaneous idea, I heard about the market in San Juan so I thought I could make a stand there as I started to do flee markets because I was in need of money and had so many things in store that I thought ok, let’s try to liquidize some of it. But soon I ran out of things and supplying your stand is a fulltime job. On the other hand I like to collect things but I do not like to give them away as they might be useful to do something different. On top all those items have a history, take this hub cap that I am using now to make a lamp, you never know where it travelled to, or the disk from a brake of a motorbike, when I purchase things on the junk yard I know they have a history.

So to be able to sell in San Juan I needed to do something different and I came up with the recycling idea. It is no hippie product, my vision is futuristic, based on science fiction. I like to work with hard materials without many colours.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

When I see something somewhere that interests me I know I have to have it. So I take it home and store it without thinking about its future purpose. Then when I got an idea for something I walk through my studio and get inspired from what I see, it sometimes even changes my idea completely. So you could say it is an organic process. Every time I walk through the junk yards I see so many interesting things and think ‘what a bummer’, this needs to have a new purpose.

Gerhard Hoehn in 20 years?

Let me see, I will be 67 by then. That is difficult to say, I normally count in periods of two years, in the past I constantly changed house after two years without really knowing why. This studio now is my home for the last five years, when I moved in I already thought ‘so much work for another two years?’ but the truth is it will be very hard to find something equal in Ibiza.

So back to your question, in the future I would love to live independently, self-sufficient and on my own piece of land. There I want to create a “plant house”, means a house that is naturally grown out of plants. And I guess this should be possible here on the island as the regulations are not as tight as they are back in Germany for example. And our climate makes it a lot easier to create such a house and be able to live in it the whole year round. With a good chimney you will always make it through winter and in summer you do not need any walls around you.

How does your perfect day look like?

Getting up, having a Mate – Guarana shake then work like Popeye until afternoon, good food, some computer work and bedtime around 11 pm. That is a normal day in my life which equals as well a perfect day in my life. During the summer heat I take a few weeks off but in general that is how I love to spend my days.

Gerhard, thanx for this fruitful conversation, it is always a pleasure to get to know people that do their ‘job’ with the enthusiasm that you have. All the best for the future, you seem well prepared!

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