Well a few things made me think of it. In 1990, I was watching MTV and saw Madonna with an American flag in the song Vogue; I think it was at the start of Rock the Vote. I always travel to America and see how they arrange the flag, hang the flag; work with the flag, even within pop art. In Germany this wasnít so easy, 25 to 30 years ago even for me, the German flag was bad, it was a no-go area, when we saw the flag it was a kind of enemy. Then I had the idea to take the flag out of radical hands into more liberal hands. I worked on a song at Universal Studios with Paul van Dyk and Peter Heppner called ďWir Sind WirĒ [we are one]; itís all about Germany getting back on track after the war. After the song, there was a pretty intense discussion about it being Nazi pop or something like that. People were getting very nervous, and I think if people are getting nervous, there must be something behind it. I wanted to take this and make something creative out of it. The idea was to create a high-level project. I donít curate it, otherwise itís like censorship, so I donít want to curate it. Itís not about art, itís about what people think and what they can do to show what they think.
Q2. Following the fall of the Berlin Wall twenty-one years ago, two similar yet very different parts of Germany were reunited. What are your thoughts on the progress that cultural identity has made here, and what are the challenges that still need to be overcome?
Well I was here in Ď89 at the Brandenburg Gate and New Years Eve was a crazy night. I was living at the time in Cologne working for RTL and we saw it on television. In that situation when it all happened, it was too close, it was not real. I think itís getting bigger and bigger after 20 years as it becomes a historical thing, unlike when it is in the present and you donít recognize it. There is still east and west of course, because the people who are living right now who were born in another state lived a life of other backgrounds, and had other views. But itís always interesting when you bring these people together because when there is dialogue,† people often talk about things they never saw because they donít go there. Most of the people from the West have never been to the former GDR, and I think you have to go there. Of course both sides definitely have to move on, and this needs 20 years or 50 years. But itís good because I see it like the wall. The first year everyone was involved in putting the wall away, now everyone is like Ďwhere was the wall, we want to do something!í I think right now itís the time to hold on itís the normal situation; itís a good opportunity if you donít have to be too fast. Itís a relationship thing, thereís a movement behind it, but itís only one thing as we have the whole immigration thing going on and the discussion surrounding this. Its like this in many other countries to. I think it needs more time.
Q3. ďFarbwerte-SchwarzRotGoldĒ hasa wide variety of artists participating and coming from various fields such as the fashion industry, art and others. What were you looking for in the artists you worked with and what have they brought to the exhibition?
Well to be honest from the beginning we just dropped a note in various networks. Itís like a snowball thing going on, and itís always nice when people grab one of these snowballs and try to send something back. Last October was the first exhibition in Berlin, we opened something at the MŁnze, and I got feedback from about 50-60 people worldwide from doing this. It was interesting because weeks before, I received a package in the post with the stuff in it. It felt like Christmas because there were tiny things and big things. Itís always good when you start a project and you get feedback. I started in March 2009 and in October there was an exhibition of 750 square metres with 120 portraits, exhibits. Itís still ongoing, and right now people are still working with me.
Q4. German society is known for being one of the most multicultural in Europe. Major cities see the descendants of Turkish guest workers, immigrants from Eastern Europe and millions of study-abroad students converge and remodel the social tissue of Germany. How did you go about portraying this variety in your exhibition?
I think the whole project is kind of a mosaic; itís never going to be ready, maybe thereís more black stones or more red stones or more gold stones, I donít know. Iím a networker, so itís easy when you start with your network around you. Itís like dropping a stone into water, first you start with the people around you. We were in China and Tehran and it always needs somebody to begin with, so Iím not deciding that I need more immigrants, so letís look for more immigrants. The people in the portraits are people I know, so itís somehow personal too. We are taking photos, for example, starting tomorrow here of some keynote speakers and some participants maybe, so itís a bit by surprise and itís a network.
Q5. Having showcased your exhibition in numerous locations such as the Universal Exhibition in Shanghai, in what ways do you think this work can contribute to a better understanding of each other in Germany and cultural diplomacy internationally?
I think itís all about building platforms and starting to communicate. Itís always good if you have a story to tell you can start right away talking about something. Itís like a Trojan horse, you go there and start talking and try to look very interesting. The first thing you talk about is the project, then you talk about the German flag, and then what can you do with the Chinese flag, although I canít do something with the Chinese flag because itís not allowed. So itís very interesting, because right away on the one hand you start, everything around you in German flags, but after 20 or 25 minutes you start to talk about China, what you can do with the Chinese flag, and thatís very interesting. The most important thing is that Iíve been building networks for many years, its building a platform and itís the easiest way to bring creative people together on an eye level. Itís not something in which someone from above tells you how things have to be, itís always interesting to go in on eye level and start working, talking and doing something. The first time I was in Shanghai was September of last year, where I met a friend of mine who suggested he might have a room. That was the first time it was suggested, and then I met the people from the German Pavilion Expo 2010. Everythingís a little bit by surprise of course, itís a lot of work to do, and it always came down to the fact that itís like this conference.
Thank you for your time.