'Art - even political - shall be the expression of a free mind' (Jessica-Joyce Sidon)
Photo: Angela Simi Fotografie
Photo: Angela Simi Fotografie
Courtesy Gallery Sperling Munich. Silkscreen, lacquer and charcoal on canvas, 190x170x3 cm
Photo: Angela Simi Fotografie
Jessica-Joyce Sidon is a former PR-expert with French roots, and the co-founder - along with Executive chef Cäcilia Baldszus - of Lobe Block's Baldon restaurant, art space and platform for creative experiences.
This unique site located in Berlin Gesundbrunnen and designed by architects Brandlhuber + Emde, Burlon / Muck Petzet, benefits from a large raw concrete area and a botanical garden at ground level. The breathing structure allow the founders to enhance their appetite for sharp creativity, humanistic sensorial experiences, multi-faceted inspirations, and above all, locally sourced seasonal products that echo a genuine concern for climate change.
Can art foster social change, and what role can artists and their work play in this? More in depth, can they take a leading role?
I think that art can foster social change. Art is long lasting. So I think, if you want to communicate something, you can definitely do it through art. Such as, art must be accessible, it has to be seen and offered to a wide public.
Art is and should be provocative. Art – even political – shall be the expression of a free mind.
For instance, the work of Maltes Zenses that is hang here (editor’s note. on the concrete walls of Baldon’s) look super abstract at first sight, but it encompasses figurative figures that are highly political: the little floating boats and swimming bodies over there are actually migrants crossing the sea.
Another exemple is the French street artist JR, who placed a monumental photograph of mexican child Kikito at the border fence in a Mexican city, just behind the border with California (editor’s note. Tecate, 2017). This is super political. So yes, as an artist, you can definitely help to change the world.
In a time of radical upheaval and crisis, can we still hope for a better future? What impact can narrative have on the process of building such a future?
I mean, right now, all is very black. But I think there’s always hope.
What we should do now, is really starting to educate. In my perspective, in my work, I know that I can’t change the world alone, but I try to ask myself the question on how to make it sustainable, what do we eat, how do we consume, how to be more attentive?
At Baldon, we do not work with products that come from oversees. This is how our future should look like: concentrate on how our economical system work. And how to change – at least – our own small future. If you think and act local, and stop with this fast living and the wish to be everywhere. I believe it is time to slowdown. Every fields, every branches, from the creative ones, to gastronomy, politics, and IT, we shall be able to educate both ourselves and the new generations.
Though, of course, it is a luxury vision – as most of the people cannot afford local food. But it tends to become more and more affordable now, I guess. This is where we have to build a bridge with others.
That’s how „narrative“ is definitely about talking to people, and showing the food as well. That’s why we call Baldon „a space for creative experiences“. We use the space for live events.
So maybe the idea behind is about feeling the present more than changing the future?
In the gastronomy in Berlin – at Otto for instance, as well – people have a similar approach: that is not about money making but about a true interest for local and seasonal food, finally spreading the word on how nice it is to enjoy the present moment.
What could be the premises of a transdisciplinary dialogue (between art, culture and other disciplines) capable of triggering a social transformation? In your own work, what expertise or practices could go in the direction of such transdisciplinarity?
How do we work with different experts from diverse branches? We work exclusively with local producers, we try to understand how different cultures prepare their food. That’s how we often invite guest chefs at Baldon: they show us their cooking techniques. Also, we often ask our guests to eat with hands: it just taste better, then the experience turns totally new. I guess it’s a way to combine traditional table settings, exotic cuisine, and a diversity of guests.It is a way to expand the experience with all our senses.
Thinking of, it is something that I would definitely like to push more, the combination of food experience with other experiences, the use of the space as a sort of canvas to create unprecedented events, and trying to be somehow provocative.
That’s why I invited so many young artists to show their work at Baldon. Amongst the past events, I can mention: “Artists against plastic pollution”, Berlin minimal artist Kim Bartelt x Yellownose Studio – 2019, German sculptor Britta Wiesenthal. This is our way to get people “in dialogue with”.
Assuming it is possible to build a better world on the ruins of the old one, what might it look like? What would you hope for in a better world?
It’s quite poetic to say this but personnaly, I don‘t want to build a new world upon the old one. I wish to be realistic, to make the best out of the world we have, with all the diversity of people around.
It is often said that artists (and creative people at large) have a unique ability to constantly search for the new, starting from scratch again and again, relentlessly. What strategies or rituals do you use when you start a new project?
I am a spontaneous kind of person. When a new project arrise, I don’t go and meditate anything. It is more about the people involved. When you think of the Baldon project, I remember the initiator of Lobe Block (editor’s note. Olivia Reynolds who, in 2013, acquired the property and developed the Lobe Block with architect Arno Brandlhuber) who offered us the place when there was still nothing but a dusty field here, it was weird but I had somehow a good feeling and it happened to be right. I must confess that I love risks and uncertainty, my life would be so borring otherwise.
The interview was conducted in July 2021