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Alumni-Interview: Ekaterina Skladmann

Ekaterina Skladmann (born Filist) studied art in Minsk and textile and surface design in Berlin. Between 2017 and 2019 she was in the master program Bühnenbild_Szenischer Raum. She lives and works in Berlin with her husband and daughter.

You studied fine arts and textile design. How did it continue for you after the master’s program and what are you doing today?
Today I do various projects with a focus on scenography. In my textile and surface design studies at the Kunsthochschule Weissensee I had worked and experimented a lot with materials. For the short film “Jazzelle” for the rbb it was my task to develop a new material for their installation.

What did your entry into the field look like?
In my final thesis, I focused on the topic of the loss of a homeland. This resulted in many interesting and valuable contacts, which then, as fate would have it, helped me to get involved in numerous projects: For Monika Dobrowlanska’s play “Die Wiedergutmachung” I was able to develop the stage design. For the German-Polish association “My Life – Narrated Contemporary History” in Słubice/Poland, I designed a 35㎡ large paper installation. The book “Flucht-eine Menschheitsgeschichte” by Dr. Andreas Kossert was illustrated by me. Another part of my master thesis – the story of my grandmother – is described in this book. After that I organized the exhibition “Retina” with different artists on the topic of 50 years moon landing at the Zeiss-Großplanetarium Berlin. Currently I am working as an exhibition designer in “REWOMEN – Europeans Women’s Remembrance”, the project deals with the historical development of women’s rights in Europe, with European women’s peace movements – as well as with the experiences of women as victims of war. About 100 women from 10 partner countries will participate in the final exhibition in 2022-2023.

Your way of working is very versatile. How do you approach a design task?
Most of my projects have a documentary background, a historical story. And my task is to present these stories visually. I start my work by researching historical periods, eyewitness accounts, creating mood boards: a collection of emotional images, textures and materials. Several ideas for realization already emerge in the process.

What do you particularly like about your job?
Because of the wide range of topics that interest me, I appreciate the variety in the different projects and the opportunity to use different artistic techniques craft and digital.

What memories do you associate with the Bühnenbild_Szenischer Raum course?
It was a very intensive time for me. I was able to try out a lot during the two-year master’s program. Our group was very heterogeneous, each with their own professional experiences, artistic approaches and attitudes to life. These insights and learning from each other inspired me a lot.

What advice would you give to a first-year student of the Master’s program Stage Design/Scenic Space?
I would advise already during the studies:
Read a lot and watch a lot – plays, exhibitions, projects by designers and artists, sketch a lot, document and develop your own ideas, complete several internships to make new contacts and to explore your own strengths and focuses and always stay hungry for something new!

www.ekaterinaskladmann.com

Photo credits: 1, 2 Documentary installation “Garten der Erinnerung”, 3 Short film “Jazzelle” by Stefan Rossius, 4 Theater project “Die Wiedergutmachung” by Monika Dobrowlanska, 5 Remembrance wall for the association “My Life – Erzählte Zeitgeschichte”, 6 Illustration for the book “Flucht-eine Menschheitsgeschichte” by Dr. Andreas Kossert, 7 Group exhibition “Retina” at the Zeiss-Großplanetarium Berlin

Alumni Interview: Janina Sieber

Janina Sieber is a freelance set and costume designer and architect. She studied in our master’s program in 2016-18. Afterwards, as a set assistant at the Münchner Kammerspiele, she also created some of her own work, such as sets for “Werther’s Quest for Love” and “Nirvanas Last” and stages for the queer party series “WUSS 3000″ and the Münchner Kammerspiele’s new “Habibi Kiosk” in Maximilianstraße, a post-migrant multipurpose store for cultivating radical alliances. She is a founding member of the Munich architecture and urbanism collective PointOfNoReturn, which develops alternative visions for a more vibrant city in temporary structures, resulting in proactive performances.

Did you already have your current career in mind when you began your studies at Bühnenbild_Szenischer Raum?
Actually, a lot of what I had imagined has turned out to be true. I couldn’t have imagined the combination of relatively classical theater projects that are connected to an institution and the completely self-devised free projects any better. At the same time, it’s nice to see that my start as an architect is still part of my work, and influences my view of theater. What I wouldn’t have thought during the Masters is that I am now passionate about costume design, in addition to spaces. The intuitive work and the even greater possibilities for quick changes give me great pleasure and expand the possibilities of making productions by so much.

What do you particularly like about your job?
I find it incredibly fascinating how you build entire universes within a few weeks, often in a newly assembled team. I’ve always been interested in utopias and dystopias, and I really enjoy creating new ones. But the beauty of theater is that you can make even the smallest moment insanely big and exciting in order to inspire enthusiasm for the small everyday things.

What memories do you have of the TU BBSR program? What was special about your master’s?
Since a year consists of just under 20 people, you get to know each other very quickly and grow together. I really enjoyed the time in the large studio, cooking together in the communal kitchen, and the pub crawls through Wedding. Also, working in the place detached from the rest of TU felt like an enclave, which was liberating.

Looking back: what does studying at the TU mean to you today? How influential was the time at the TU for your work today?
My studies at the TU Berlin brought me to theater. I decided relatively spontaneously to give classical architecture a rest in order to devote myself to more performative formats, for example in urban space. My passion for theater has always been very strong, but I only really immersed myself in this enchanting world through the master’s degree and its practice-oriented teaching. I had considered going back to architecture for a while with my newfound knowledge, but the degree ultimately persuaded me to stay with theater full-time.

What did it mean to live in a cultural metropolis like Berlin while studying?
Berlin’s many theaters and the wide range of cultural offers made it possible to watch a lot of theater very quickly and thus to gain access to a broad spectrum of the arts, which I also learned a lot from and found very enriching.

janinasieber.com

Alumni-Interview: Eleonora Pedretti

Eleonora Pedretti is a freelance stage and costume designer working with directors, performers and collectives from all over Germany. She comes to Berlin from Italy, where she now lives and completed her Master’s degree at the TU in Bühnenbild_Szenischer Raum in 2017.

When you started your studies at the Bühnenbild_Szenischer Raum program, did you already have your current job in mind?
To be honest… not at all. At the time of my application for the master’s program, I was convinced that becoming a stage and costume designer was the appropriate job for me. Since I studied at art academies in Italy and the U.S. and subsequently worked in fashion and installation art, it felt quite logical to take the step into performing arts. Looking back, I now realize that I made the decision more out of fascination, without knowing what exactly the profession would be like and, above all, what the dynamics behind the related institutions were.

What happened after graduation, what did your entry into the field look like?
During the master’s program, I had the opportunity to do some realization projects. Therefore, I already had basic knowledge of how a production runs and what steps have to be taken. Immediately after my thesis, I applied outside of Berlin to gain experience with a large city theater and was hired at Schauspiel / Oper Köln as a set assistant. At first I was totally enthusiastic, but soon I realized that it was not about creativity, but about logistics and rehearsal supervision. However, I learned a lot from the props department and the workshop. At the same time, I started my own projects as a stage and costume designer in the independent scene. After two years in Cologne I came back to Berlin, where I have been working as a freelancer on theater, dance as well as opera projects ever since. One of my most recent projects was the set design for an interactive live-streaming performance.

What do you like most about your job?
Every project is different and holds new challenges… that never makes the job boring! I especially like the preparation: the research, building models, the 3D drawings, discovering fabrics and experimenting with different materials. The dramaturgy and the directorial concept of the piece are important factors that influence my designs. I find the whole process interesting, even if it happens that my visions, differ from those of the directors. Many inspirational and emotional highs but also lows stand out in every project and strangely enough I enjoy it. Most importantly, I have met many wonderful people, which I am very happy about.

What memories do you associate with the TU BBSR degree program? And what does studying at TU mean to you today? How formative was the TU time for your work today?
The studies were a turning point for me and an inspiring time. I went to the studio every day, where the hours of model building and exchanges of ideas with students from all over the world inspired and motivated me greatly. Today, I miss the completely free creative approach that the real working world unfortunately doesn’t always allow. Personally, I found the internationality at the TU, but also the practical projects, to be the greatest gain. Even though in the first semester the lecturers made a student selection and I was not allowed to participate in any realization, I got the opportunity of a practical experience in the second semester after I won a competition. This experience, along with other projects, had an uplifting effect on my portfolio and my self-confidence. Without my studies, my path to theater would have been more difficult.

Is there anything you would do differently or wish you did differently today?
I’ve always done parallel jobs and I wouldn’t want to commit to just one today. There is so much to learn and discover. I’m currently studying for a second bachelor’s degree alongside my self-employment, which has nothing to do with art at all. Still, I wouldn’t do anything completely different today. If I could wish for something, it would be a lot more international projects.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to go into theater?
I would advise everyone to do an internship and find out about different people who are in the profession. This can give a good impression of the very different approaches. Personally, I find that the theater world, like any field, has both – sunny and dark sides. It might be necessary to grow a thick skin, especially when starting out in assistant positions. Those interested in spaces in general should get additional training in exhibition and space design to have flexible work opportunities. The last thing to consider – more for foreigners like me – would be in which place you want to live and what compromises you can deal with. Whereas Germany has many opportunities to work in theater, elsewhere, it could possibly be more difficult.

https://eleonorap.com/

Images ©Eleonora Pedretti

Alumni interview: Maria Wolgast

Maria Wolgast works as a freelance stage and costume designer and also teaches regularly at various universities, including with us at TU Bühnenbild_Szenischer Raum. From 2008-2010 she studied at the Master program.

Maria, before studying at the Technical University Berlin you studied Art and Drama as well as Scenography in Norway. You worked as a stage designer and assistant at various theaters in Germany (Stadttheater Hildesheim, Parkaue Berlin) and Norway (Nationaltheater Oslo, Oper Kristiansand, Black Box Theater Oslo). What made you decide to complete the Master of Arts at the TU Berlin?
For me it was crucial to develop my own approach especially for music theater and without the production pressure in the theater. At that time I had one wish: to get out of the daily routine of the theater once again. It felt quite tense there, everything went very fast and all that happened between Germany and Norway. I actually wanted to spend a lot of time designing and understanding opera. My theater studies were about acting with a focus on contemporary, interdisciplinary, post-dramatic forms and studying at the Norwegian Academy was great, experimental, very free. But I always felt the need to immerse myself in the complexity of music theater. With this in mind, my focus during the Master was clearly in the field of theater but also the wide range of courses on exhibition design and urban intervention were very inspiring for me. With the Master’s degree I have been able to afford the ‘luxury’ to expand the base for my artistic work – and that certainly shaped me.

When you speak of your artistic approach, how would you characterize your work?
Whether it’s an installation for an exhibition, a musical, a drama, opera, children’s and youth theater or projects in urban space: I am looking for a central image or universe and for a connecting materiality that is as versatile as possible.
I do not think in categories such as built indoor or outdoor spaces,  I rather think I am more abstract, but at the same time also more sensual. Anyways, I am always interested in metamorphosis and the process of material and the resulting space – initiated by the actors.

What memories do you associate with the degree program?
Above all, an impressive variety of courses, topics, fields of work including actual realization projects. The intensive supervision by the teachers and above all the lively exchange with the fellow students. We were already quiet an international group, which became even more polyglot in the subsequent study generations I think. What I greatly appreciated are these different cultural and professional backgrounds. I like to remember many valuable conversations and the mutual appreciation of our work in the team and the honest interest in each other and the contents. Many friendships from this period last until today. And last but not least, the studios located in Ackerstrasse, where we worked and actually lived. The Master’s program was a very precious, enriching time for me.

What are your fields of work, with whom and where do you work?
Being a teacher myself was important to me even before my studies at TU, which I continue to pursue next to my work at the theater until today and I am very happy to be able to combine both. Since I am teaching myself at Bühnenbild_Szenischer Raum now, the contact remains and I get to see the changes in the degree program, which I like a lot. Apart from that, I am doing quite well in the fields of theater as well as with teaching. I am regularly lecturing at the Osnabrück University of Applied Sciences, at the Theaterpädagogische Akademie Heidelberg, at the Theaterakademie Mannheim and also give workshops for various educational institutions.
After completing my studies, I have worked a lot as an assistant and in artistic collaboration, for example at the Frankfurt Opera, Stuttgart Opera, Stockholm Opera or Oslo Opera. Then I did my own stage designs at the Junges DT / Deutsches Theater, in the Kulturforum, at the Tischlerei / Deutsche Oper, for the summer opera at Schloss Britz, at theaters in Heidelberg, in Hildesheim, Baden-Baden, Potsdam and Münster. Together with Patrick Bannwart I was in Antwerp and Ghent, in Essen, in Basel (for ‘Elektra’) and at the Burgtheater in Vienna (for ‘Käthchen von Heilbronn’) wich were both directed by David Bösch.

What do you like most about your job?
With all the advantages and disadvantages of freelancing: I can not imagine anything else and always appreciate my independence from institutions. Working together at the theater can be great – working with the directing team, with the workshops and all the people from the house, I love this! It can be very inspiring to see ideas grow. But sure, I would admit without hesitation, that it can also be exhausting and disappointing sometimes. Probably anyone who is working in this field has made this experience at least once…

Is there something that you would do differently today?
I really do not think so.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to go to the theater?
Basically, if there is real interest and commitment, then just get started! Unpaid internships and assistants are the reality at institutional theaters and not just there. Don’t be afraid of that fact, but decide for yourself how much and how long you want to continue with the unpaid internships. It is important to get to know people you want to work with. Which topics, working methods and artistic formats are interesting? Which conditions and projects make it possible to work like you want to work and how and where can they be found or how can they maybe even be self-initiated? That’s quite a lot, but trying out really is the only way to find out.

(c) Images:

Picture 1: Stage / Costumes for “Economic Comedy” by Elfriede Jelinek, Theater Baden-Baden, Director: Katja Fillmann, 2016. Photo: Jochen Klenk
Picture 2: Stage / Costumes for “Economic Comedy” by Elfriede Jelinek, Theater Baden-Baden, Director: Katja Fillmann, 2016. Photo: Jochen Klenk
Picture 3: Costumes for “The special life of Hilletje Jans” by Ad de Bont, real-time theater Münster, Director: David Gruschka, 2016. Photo: Roman Starke
Picture 4: Costumes for “The Special Life of Hilletje Jans” by Ad de Bont, echtzeit-theater Münster, Director: David Gruschka, 2016. Photo: Roman Starke
Picture 5: Stage design with Patrick Bannwart for “Elektra” by Richard Strauss, Oper Antwerpen / Gent, Essen, Basel, Director: David Bösch, 2014. Photo: Annemie Augustijns
Picture 6: Stage design with Patrick Bannwart for “Elektra” by Richard Strauss, Antwerp / Ghent Opera, Essen, Basel, directed by David Bösch, 2014. Photo: Annemie Augus tijns
Picture 7: Stage / Costumes for “Pyramus and Thisbe” by Johann Adolf Hasse, Summer Opera Schloss Britz, Director: Antje Kaiser, 2012. Photo: Oxana Sulzbach
Picture 8: Stage / Costumes for “Pyramus and Thisbe” by Johann Adolf Hasse, Summer Opera Schloss Britz, directed by Antje Kaiser, 2012. Photo: Oxana Sulzbach

Interview: David Roth

David Roth is a video artist, scenographer and architect. After his diploma in architecture he founded prjktr. [projektor_berlin] together with Florian Machner and graduated in 2014 with the Master of Arts in Bühnenbild_Szenischer Raum.

Hi David, with what expectation did you start your studies here in 2012 and did you already have your current job in mind at the beginning?
The human being in spatial situations, that’s what interests me most and that was what brought me from architecture to scenography! And from there it evolved to staging things visually with an emphasis on video animations. I think it’s important to understand that studying is not a vocational education, but rather exploring contents, methods and processes. Not everyone who studies architecture necessarily becomes an architect, but maybe a scenographer. And not everyone who studies scenography necessarily becomes a scenographer, but – let’s say – a video artist.

What shaped you during your studies for your practice?
In classical school education it is slowly established that the learning effect is minimal with teaching approaches based on direct instruction or lecturing, they are simply no longer adequate. So when in your studies, it’s essential to design, to research and to develop as much as possible. I was really influenced by the ability to participate in teaching topics and contents. For example, as an extension of the curriculum we’ve already had in the Master’s program, we founded the lecture series ‘Intergraph’. Over a period of several semesters we experimented with different spatial formats, invited new artists and got to know potential lecturers.

You founded the agency “prjktr.” after graduation. What do you guys do exactly?
Let’s say: we are the directors of rooms. The space is our stage. We unleash its scenic performance with light and projection. Our work is an artistic installation in space. We work with expansive video projections, interactive media and exhibits with video. We realize these visual set-ups for exhibitions, theaters and stages, retail spaces and trade fairs or for all kinds of events.

Could you tell me a bit more – how is your working process and with which partners do you work exactly?
A few of our fields of work are for example sketching ideas, doing key visuals, writing concept texts, drafting storyboards, rough animations, editing and postproduction, but also technical planning, programming of media art installations, video mapping, production of mock-ups. Of course, project planning, time and cost management, contracts, etc. are also included. Almost every project is created in collaboration with musicians or sound artists, filmmakers, graphic designers, programmers, interior designers and generally spoken with a lot of great freelancers.

What do you like most about your job?
That we do everything. We develop from the first idea to the final realization of the installation. Each task is different, but always hyper-disciplinary, neo-creative, multi-visual and super-contemporary. It is always exciting.

What tips would you give to someone who wants to start their own studio?
It’s very simple:

1. Do it!
2. Continue!
3. Continue anyway!
4. Enjoy.

What that could look like, you can see at our website: prjktr.net

Thank you, David!

 

© all images: David Roth

Interview: Raimund Schucht

Raimund Schucht realizes spaces and stage designs for the Berlin-based agency TRIAD and the Movimentos Festwochen Wolfsburg, among others. After completing his apprenticeship as an interior decorator and subsequently studying architecture, he studied at the Master’s program Bühnenbild_Szenischer Raum of the TU Berlin from 2013 to 2015.

Raimund, you have studied architecture before, did you already have your current job in mind at the beginning of your studies?
I had already realized during my architectural studies that classical architecture will not be my path. Therefore, I was looking for an alternative that would combine my experiences from apprenticeship as an interior decorator and my classical architecture studies. I had a strong desire to combine media and architecture – so I worked in agencies that specialized in virtual and interactive spaces when I was a student. After a few years of agency life, I felt the need to fill spaces with content and life, to bring spaces to life, to charge them with spirit and emotions. This is how scenography came into play.

What were your expectations when you began your studies here?
Actually, I started the Master’s program without much expectation, and one should not misunderstand that! It was a privilege for me to study again. Therefore, my goal was to just get as many impulses as possible. Eventually, the artistic handling of space came more and more into focus. At the end of my studies, I had the feeling that all my previous studies had now come together in one profession. For the first time my many professional detours finally made sense! That’s a very good feeling which I continue having until today.

What were your priorities, were you interested stage design or in the scenic space?
At the beginning my focus was on ​​scenic space, at which time my interest was still strongly driven towards digital interactions. Over the course of my Master’s studies, I developed a curiosity about how content and interaction can be blended together. The approaches could also be analog. It was important for me to question old ways of thinking and to allow new ideas. My goal was to let go of the rather structural planning I learned when working in architecture, to break the boundaries of the strongly digital-driven architectural processes. I rather wanted to incorporate artistic aspects, such as painting or model making, into my creative work. I got new input from fellow students and lecturers, all of whom came from a wide variety of fields and also from the field of stage design that I had actually previously ignored. The confrontation with the stages of Hans Dieter Schaal and the Bauhaus stages of Oskar Schlemmer especially led me to new trains of thought. It was especially their transformation of architectural means into stage sets or costume pictures and scenographies that I found inspiring. These strong inspirations from the field of stage design are still incorporated into my design processes – be it for an exhibition, a trade fair stand or retail architecture.

What was so special about studying at the TU Berlin?
For me, it was the people behind the Master’s program who were truly special. It really was the diversity of cultural and professional backgrounds of the classmates and the lecturers that enabled a lively and inspiring student life. The practical training helped me to establish international contacts. The artistic approach and the analogue way of working also introduced me to new, inspiring ideas.

And have you been able to get in contact with clients during the practice-oriented study at the TU?
Early in my studies, I used existing contacts with cooperation partners or made new ones. My entry into the agency life also began during my studies at the TU. In the third semester, thanks to the help of two of my lecturers, I was able to establish contact with TRIAD, a Berlin-based agency for communication in space. I completed my obligatory internship there. Ever since I have been working as a freelancer for TRIAD. My first steps in the field of stage design were also made possible by lecturers at TU Bühnenbild_Szenischer Raum. I was able to realize a set design for the award ceremony of the KAIROS Prize for the Töpferstiftung at the Staatstheater Hamburg with two fellow students. Through this program, we made contact with the Movimentos Academy. Since then we have realized several stage sets as an alumni team for the Movimentos Festival at the Theater Wolfsburg.

What do you like most about your job?
I especially like the versatility of this profession. In order to be able to experience all aspects of it, I have decided to become self-employed as a freelancer. Today I do not only work in creative agencies for communication in the room but also for cultural institutions. I really work in two different worlds! The mixture of stage and scenography helps me to always have a different view on the current task. Compared to classical architecture, working on scenographic projects is much faster. I like that very much, because you can always deal with new content and exciting topics. And somehow I like being on the road, too. The restlessness inspires me.

Is there something you would do differently today?
Today I would use the international opportunities and network of international students offered by the degree program even more. In addition to the regular curriculum with lectures and practical projects, the programme offers many additional opportunities for further education. For example, there is the Interdisciplinary Space Laboratory, founded by Prof. Albert Lang, which enables lots of opportunities for developing projects that go beyond the regular timetable. When I was a student, I did not realize the value of such offers. Today, I would use such opportunities much more and integrate them more into my studies. But all in all, I am very satisfied. Studying again in a Master’s degree was a great luxury and a tremendous asset.

What tips would you give to someone who wants to succeed in an agency?
The term scenography offers a lot of room for interpretation. To assert oneself in the agency world, it helps to position oneself clearly with his or her own profile: Where are your own strengths? What educational background do I include? As an aspiring scenographer you can engage in a variety of activities, for example in the field of conception, narration in space or as a designer of staged spaces.
The course offers many starting points that have to be reflected and researched first. I can understand when fresh graduates start their professional lives feeling a bit unsettled. In my opinion, it helps to remain persistent and to always believe in one’s own strengths – every dream and every strength finds its place!
It has helped me to realize that my entire professional career with the Master’s degree has finally resulted in a symbiosis. In the end, I realized that somehow everything belongs together and has its justification. I do not want to decide whether I want to work as a scenographer in an agency or as a stage designer at the theater. I can do both, and each helps me with the other’s work. I take this versatility as a great gift and it helps me to take new steps. It sounds a bit dreamy, but nothing is wrong – it only needs the right circumstances and goals – and those you have to develop for yourself. Also, sometimes it helps to not listen to social conventions or lecturers ;-) and to go a completely different way instead.

Website/Instagram/Facebook

© all pictures: Raimund Schucht and Ulf Büschleb for Triad

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