Imanuel Scheiko

Artist Interview: Imanuel Scheiko 

Here is my interview with Imanuel Scheiko. We are very happy to have Imanuel taking part in the first Pop-Up Show. You can check out the work in the exhibition which is open till Saturday, or through The Ballery website and links below.

What is your background? Perhaps you could briefly introduce yourself and your practice?

My name is Imanuel Scheiko, an Iranian visual artist who lives and works in Berlin.

I moved to Germany 12 years ago to study and I managed to finish my master degrees in Environmental Engineering in 2014. After working in that field for some years, I realized I need a change and quit my job to do what I really love to do. So today I work as a Visual Artist, part time Wedding photographer and translator for Farsi speaking LGBTIQ refugees.

Have you shown any work at The Ballery before?

Unfortunately, not. Therefore, I am even more excited to be part of this exhibition.

What made you apply for this call?

5 years ago, as I moved to Schoeneberg, I passed by The Ballery for the first time and instantly knew I really want to be a part of this gallery one day. Maybe you can call it love at first sight. Since then, Iran and its troubling view on queer people become a topic at the Ballery several times. What better place and what better time could I find, to apply with this work.

Why did you choose to submit the work that you did?

This work is a very special one for me as it is very personal. And I can truly say: this work introduces my artistic vision and practice very well. It seems to me that, within the last one and half years, the world has become a more dividing, separating, intolerant place. With my work and especially this peace, I invite people to look at things differently. Opening up your mind instead of shutting it down. I think that’s what we need now and that’s why I chose this work.

Can you tell us a bit about this work?

This work was created during the first lockdown in 2020, where I had much more time for my creative process. This work is inspired by a very personal story that I have experienced as a 4-year-old Iranian kid on my birthday. Big birthday party, friends and family members all there and I, as an innocent happy and joyful kid, wanted to dance in a pink/red skirt of my 3 years older cousin. I got the chance to embrace and enjoy that moment and I danced like a bird who got to fly for the first time. Of course, that dance with skirt got filmed and it’s been shown afterwards for more than 30 years over and over again. I was for many members of the family and friends, mostly men of course, not the same as before. I was the kid, later on the teenage boy and after that, the man who can dance well and wore a skirt one time. It never ends. So I became the one who does not follow cultural or society norms. And while I started hiding from strange looks and mean words back then, I am proud of it today. At least in the world and culture I chose to live in today.  

Has it been shown before?

This work has not been shown before.

What are your biggest influences?

The current phase of my artistic journey began when I moved to Germany in 2009 and dove deeper into exploring the intersections of cultures. I blend the ancient visuals of Persian carpet weaving with the complexities of life in Berlin. I draw direct inspiration from the emotions and people I get to experience as a wedding photographer and translator for refugees.

The sobering chaos of iconic Persian patterns always comes back in one way or another. Sometimes it dominates a work, sometimes it’s a touch in the background, just slightly changing the atmosphere. I like to play with elements of paradox; seemingly symmetrical and harmonious but ultimately human in its essence. I chose to express myself both in form and color, and at the same time engage with story and narrative. My inspiration comes from my Iranian background as well as my Berlin life. The one from the past, the other from the present.

 In which ways has living in Berlin shaped your work or practice?

Definition of living, freedom, art, love and so many other things have changed for me after I moved here to Berlin. This is still inspiring, still sometimes scary. And only a few months ago, while talking to my cousins, one living in L.A., one still in Iran, I realized how much I have changed. How much I can embrace freedom nowadays. Berlin made it possible for me to be who I am, to stay true to myself.

What other artists do you like, are there any other Berlin-based artists you are interested in?

 I have to say everything around me inspires me in a way. People, their actions and interactions, and environment. I am not a name dropper. My mind is pretty good in saving what I observed but not the names. To me, art is more a contemplative act than action. Still, I’m open and interested in Berlin-based artists, just hardly had the chance to cooperate yet.

 Have you ever been in a group show before?

 No, this is the first experience for me.

What’s the experience like for you?

Exciting. Scary. Such fun.

How do you feel about exhibiting work online instead of in a space?

I think I need to gain more experience to be able to compare.

What is your approach to pricing your work?

I don’t just use a simple size and complexity formula. Different works also have a different place and importance to me. Sometimes that influences the price as well.

What are you looking for from an exhibition, besides selling work?

 Getting to know other artists and the social aspect of it. The fact that what I have created gets to be seen and I get to hear other artist’s or visitor’s perspectives and thoughts, is a really big deal to me. And I don’t like telling people what they may or should see in my work. But I love to hear what they do.

Do you ever get nervous about showing work in an exhibition?

 Truth be told: I am always nervous. But of course, the idea to put out a piece of my work, my past, my soul in an exhibition and let people judge it, is nerve wracking. And let’s be honest: we live in a judging society.

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