Infinitudes.

Following on from SUPERFUTURES, Reference Studios’ biannual Reference Festival returns to Berlin for its sixth edition – featuring Michèle Lamy, Matt Lambert, Miles Greenberg, and a cohort of the city’s fashion and art creatives.

Photographs by Till Milius

Following on from SUPERFUTURES, Reference Studios’ biannual Reference Festival returns to Berlin for its sixth edition – featuring Michèle Lamy, Matt Lambert, Miles Greenberg, and a cohort of the city’s fashion and art creatives.

Berlin-based Reference Studios has never been just a communications agency. Since it was founded in 2017, the agency has operated as a platform to highlight the city’s burgeoning creative scene on a global scale. “As a communications agency, our main subject is fashion, but more and more we represent clients from other backgrounds – music and the arts specifically – and these correlate and catalyze each other,” founder Mumi Haiati tells System. “Berlin is a breeding ground for creativity first, fashion to an extent is just part of that universe.”

In 2019, this birthed Reference Festival, a biannual immersive experience melding the worlds of art, fashion, music, film, and more – collaborating with creatives such as Hans Ulrich Obrist, Isamaya Ffrench, Jordan Hemingway, and Wolfgang Tillmans, as well as brands including Comme des Garçons, Diesel, and Gentle Monster. “The festival may take different shapes each time, in accordance with the state of the world and our surroundings, but perhaps it can be described most simply as a trans-disciplinary group show,” Haiati says. “We suggest a framework to our participants, but to an extent leave its interpretation to them. It’s the ultimate platform for special projects.”

Following on from SUPERFUTURES – which saw Reference Festival take over Selfridges’ London store – the event returned to Berlin for Infinitudes, a concept devised by Haiati and creative lead Tim Neugebauer. Taking place over the last week, the latest iteration of the multidisciplinary event featured a live performance by Michèle Lamy and Matt Lambert as well as film premieres by Matt Lambert and Miles Greenberg.

In addition, Reference Festival hosted its first ever exhibition – held at the Schinkel Pavillon – featuring 15 emerging Berlin-related artists, each responding to the theme via their specific medium. Here, System meets with six creatives from the Infinitude exhibition to learn more about their installations, Berlin’s creative scene, and what inspires them to keep creating.

What does ‘Infinitude’ mean to you? How did you respond to it as a theme?

Gerrit Jacob: It means not being constricted as a creative and creator, finding the freedom to be expressive and explore authentic narratives even within the parameters of working within a system.

Describe your concept for the exhibition. How does it represent you as a creative?

Gerrit Jacob: I don’t feel like I am necessarily rejecting the ‘system’, but I do feel like using the airbrush to explore certain aspects of my storytelling does feel limitless. Usually when making clothes, there are very clear restrictions in terms of accessible materials, price, minimum quantities, delivery windows, wearability etc., but this particular technique has actually allowed me to keep an important part of the work free of those constraints. It allows me to be limitless and spontaneous within the process in a way that otherwise would not be possible.

How has Berlin inspired you and/or your work?

Gerrit Jacob: To me, it is actually more of a quiet city which has allowed me to really focus on certain aspects of my creative process, really honing in on what certain things mean to me and why they are important to me.

What is unique about creativity in Berlin?

Gerrit Jacob: The availability of both, a very high level of contemporary art, as well as access to limitless hedonism makes it a unique place in all aspects.

What inspires you to continue creating in 2022 and beyond?

Gerrit Jacob: My mountain of debt.

What does ‘Infinitude’ mean to you? How did you respond to it as a theme?

Yein Lee: I understood Infinitude in relation to possibilities. After seeing pieces at the festival, I could see Infinitude in transition, transformation as a common interest among young designers and artists. In the end, this theme blurred the boundary between art and fashion, asking for unlimited possibilities.

Describe your concept for the exhibition. How does it represent you as a creative?

Yein Lee: My work is a body in a becoming state, looking into several mirrors. The humanoid figure sculpture looks into a mirror – some of the mirrors reflect the viewers, the sculpture itself, and sometimes nothing. I make whatever I want to do, often I create with my gut feeling which leads me to an unknown area that provokes imagination. These two works were very intriguing to me in that sense too.

What is unique about creativity in Berlin?

Yein Lee: Diversity in its cultural scene, young initiatives trying to make something refreshing, and an entangled status of the scene including visual art, performance, club, fashion, and music scene.

What inspires you to continue creating in 2022 and beyond?

Yein Lee: It’s different from time to time, from my personal emotions to social dissonance.

Infinitudes. - © System Magazine

What does ‘Infinitude’ mean to you? How did you respond to it as a theme?

Sia Arnika: It is incredibly hard to grasp the concept of infinity, but I also think this is why it is so fascinating. When you sit out at night staring at the sky and knowing that it just continues infinitely, it fills me with an enormous amount of excitement and wonder. It has a mystic quality and it is this feeling that I wanted to tap into for the exhibition.

Describe your concept for the exhibition. How does it represent you as a creative?

Sia Arnika: My interpretation revolves around my practice of expanding the meaning of a fabric by manipulating it into a delicate almost web-like pattern, creating complexity from the simple. As a creative, there is nothing more exciting than stepping into the unknown and exploring the infinite (no pun intended) possibilities that lie within my own mind.

Also, I can definitely imagine an alien form on a distant planet getting all cute and ready for the weekend in this dress.

How has Berlin inspired you and/or your work?

Sia Arnika: Here there are no rules – it’s a perfect base for experimentation with no limits. The community of creatives and the scope of the city gives room for being exactly who you want to be.

Infinitudes. - © System Magazine

What is unique about creativity in Berlin?

Sia Arnika: There is an energy here that is unparalleled. It is a rowdy teenager trying to figure out who it is in the larger scale of things.

What inspires you to continue creating in 2022 and beyond?

Sia Arnika: I think it’s a personality thing – I’m an insanely curious and observational person, I question everything around me. This investigation turns into tales I try to translate into my collections. Even my first name, which comes from Egyptian mythology, means the God of perception.

Infinitudes. - © System Magazine

What does ‘Infinitude’ mean to you? How did you respond to it as a theme?

Kasia Kucharska: Infinitude is a process without an end or ending. It’s an evolutionary process that we wanted to envision with an installation showing the evolvement of the ornament.

Describe your concept for the exhibition. How does it represent you as a creative?

Kasia Kucharska: At the core of our design work stands the reinvention of traditional craft through technology-driven manufacturing techniques. Drawing from an investigation on historic lace and its depiction of nature, we combined our synthesized lace garments with real vegetation elements into an artificial hedge.

Infinitudes. - © System Magazine

How has Berlin inspired you and/or your work?

Kasia Kucharska: Berlin is a city where one still has the space to explore and elaborate one’s ideas without too much pressure for instant (financial) success. This gives opportunity to many creatives like us to come up with new ideas and solutions to revitalize fashion’s ways of working.

What inspires you to continue creating in 2022 and beyond?

Kasia Kucharska: The new luxury will be well thought through and innovative products, where traditional boundaries are coming down in favour of smaller, more disruptive brands and approaches. That’s why we are excited to continue our investigation and revitalization of different crafts and introduce new ways of garment making into fashion through our work.

Infinitudes. - © System Magazine

What does ‘Infinitude’ mean to you? How did you respond to it as a theme?

ASYNC: Infinitude, to me, means a lot. It’s not only a platform for artists and designers, it’s a space where people come together and experience different vibes and feelings within the exhibition. The space itself, Schinkel Pavillon, is an extraordinary institution in a listed architectural jewel in the centre of Berlin and its atmosphere mixed with the stories behind every art piece was really impressive.

Describe your concept for the exhibition. How does it represent you as a creative?

ASYNC: As the name suggests, ASYNC is intended to represent an aesthetic statement of two worlds in the emotional subconscious and in the functional (conscious) way, since the work is based on 3D structures.

The style is a mix of organic couture elements that adapt almost poetically to the body and the clear silhouettes create layering in contrast to the structures. These aspects of my design and the theme makes my brands and designs infinite because I can create almost any shape I want.

How has Berlin inspired you and/or your work?

ASYNC: Berlin inspired me in many ways. I have learned a lot since I’ve lived here and there is a significant amount of creative people and artists that have inspired me to do what I’ve always wanted to do. Berlin has always been a place where you could be and do whatever you want without being judged or looked down on. It became a safe space for me where I can create and work on my creative process.

What inspires you to continue creating in 2022 and beyond?

ASYNC: Being a creative in Berlin is a challenge and a blessing. I have the privilege of being surrounded by so many creative people and seeing the process of my work and the work of others has awakened my mind to the idea that everyone can be and do what they love while being supported by other creators. Showing love to others and helping each other out is what makes Berlin unique to me. There is no competition so that makes Berlin a magical place where I can work on my designs for now and in the future.

Infinitudes. - © System Magazine
Infinitudes. - © System Magazine
Infinitudes. - © System Magazine
Infinitudes. - © System Magazine
Infinitudes. - © System Magazine

What does ‘Infinitude’ mean to you? How did you respond to it as a theme?

Julian-Jakob Kneer: MURPHY’S LAW / ETERNAL SOLIPSISM.

Describe your concept for the exhibition. How does it represent you as a creative?

Julian-Jakob Kneer: BIMBO FORTRESS / LEATHER FACE / ROSES ARE RED. VIOLETS ARE BLUE. THE POLICE WILL NEED DENTAL RECORDS TO IDENTIFY YOU. BITCH.

How has Berlin inspired you and/or your work?

Julian-Jakob Kneer: WE ARE ALL IN THE GUTTER BUT SOME OF US ARE LOOKING AT THE STARS.

What is unique about creativity in Berlin?

Julian-Jakob Kneer: EVERYONE CAN BE A SHOOTING STAR. YOU ONLY NEED TO REMOVE A RIB TO BE ABLE TO SUCK YOUR OWN DICK.

What inspires you to continue creating in 2022 and beyond?

Julian-Jakob Kneer: PEOPLE ALWAYS TOLD ME HOW VERY SPECIAL I AM. YOU TOO ARE A SPECIAL ONE. LET US BE SO VERY SPECIAL TOGETHER.

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