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Light and colour: An interview with artist Camilla Richter


The foyer area in front of the panoramic window on the ground floor has been used to host many installations by noteworthy artists in the past. And now, just in time for the start of spring, the “Light Catching Shadows” installation by artist Camilla Richter is taking pride of place here. We visited the walk-in installation and chatted to the artist about her idea and the messages behind it. You have until 28 April 2018 to come and see the installation (for free!) here at BIKINI BERLIN. 


Camilla Richter Interview Bikini Berlin

With its light, reflections and colours, your installation at BIKINI BERLIN really seems to bring out the playful nature of the visitors. We’ve even noticed older people, who aren’t usually the selfie type, getting out their mobile phones and taking photos. Was that also your intention? Can you briefly explain the set-up of your installation to us

I designed the installation specially for BIKINI BERLIN and part of their briefing was that it should be “instagrammable” and invite visitors to interact. The fact that even older people are pulling out their phones to take photos and selfies is showing that my idea is working.

I work with specially coated panes of glass that, depending on the lighting conditions and which way you look at them, appear either in different colours, transparent or reflective. The effect of the glass changes with the angle of the how the light falls or where the observer happens to be standing.

As well as the vibrant play of colour, the panes of glass reflect themselves and whatever is around them. The confusion that arises from this (“Is that glass or is it just a reflection?”) is, like the infinity of the reflection, an intentional effect. Another is the merging of whatever is in front of and behind it: for example, when two people are facing each other on either side of a pane of glass, their faces merge into one.

The installation is designed in such a way that the individual, two-metre high frames are standing at right angles to each other. Vertically, they are divided into three segments which, in irregular sequences, serve as frames for the panes of glass. This results in the creative elements which, in turn, create the aforementioned effects. The partially rotating glass elements suspended from the ceiling also add a sense of movement to the installation. 


After looking at your previous work, we noticed that you haven’t always worked with glass and mirrors. How did that come about? Why are you working with glass more these days?

I’m a trained carpenter who also studied product design. It goes without saying that I’ve worked with all possible materials and still do. In my other artworks, I also combine glass with different materials, such as metal, concrete or wood.

But as I’m interested in light and its effects in particular, glass is one of my preferred materials to work with. Just think of the effect of a prism and that will help you understand the infinite possibilities that glass opens up as a material.
Camilla Richter Bikini Berlin
Camilla Richter Bikini Berlin

What really stands out when we admire your installation at BIKINI BERLIN is, of course, its size and complexity. There are even rotating, colourful, reflective glass elements hanging from the ceiling that, depending on how the light falls, cast a different coloured reflection. As visitors, we are curious as to how you plan such an artwork in advance. Do you use computer programmes for simulation purposes, or do you work the classic way with drawings? Can you take us through the process, from the moment a piece is commissioned until the finished result

First of all, I develop different ideas in my head, which I then sketch out on paper. After I have decided which direction I want to take, I build little models. For the installation at BIKINI BERLIN we built the model in a scale of 1:10. To work out exactly which effects can be achieved by positioning the lamps on the various segments, we also took into consideration the distances from the slanting ceiling and other conditions of the space. And then to finalise everything, I created the installation on a computer programme, enabling me to submit a technical drawing with exact dimensions for the production and lighting design. 


Do you already have any plans for other exhibitions or projects that you can tell us about?  

You can find all details about my projects such as the the group exhibition at MEINBLAU (Pfefferberg Berlin) in May and an overview of my work on my website: www.camillarichter.com

I’m currently also using dichroic glass to produce mobiles and lights, which will allow people to immerse their own four walls in unique colours and shadows. Apart from that I’m looking forward to seeing what the rest of the year will bring. The season certainly got off to an excellent start at BIKINI BERLIN.

Thank you very much for talking to us. 

Camilla Richter Bikini Berlin