September 2009, Interview with Michael Rade, STYX Project Space

Michael Rade, 2009

An Interview with Michael Rade, STYX Project Space

This summer, STYX Project Space will celebrate its first anniversary. Nestled deep within the corridors of a crumbling former brewery in the Friedrichshain district, gallerist Michael Rade has shown an array of mainly younger up-and-coming artists, including Jeremiah Palecek, Jon Campbell, Gio Black Peter, Melissa Frost, Jacqueline Brown, and E.M.C. Collard. Additionally, STYX has extended its activity beyond the visual to encompass a sporadic program of readings, concerts, and performances.

I recently caught up with Rade to discuss STYX’s place in the Berlin gallery scene. This is the first in a series of interviews with emerging Berlin-based gallerists.  

Travis Jeppesen: I’d like to know a bit about your background, especially how you first became interested in art.

Michael Rade: I’m from a big family of which more than half was involved in some form of artistic process, so I was confronted with art on a daily basis from a young age. I grew up with the awareness that art is a natural part of life, so there was no light bulb moment when suddenly an interest in art manifested itself. As a child I wanted to be an architect, but ended up studying graphic design in Hamburg and London. Graphic design is still my main source of income.

TJ: What was your motivation for opening the gallery?

MR: I had plenty of extremely talented but little known artists in my circle of friends. When I moved back to Berlin from London a year ago, I came across this room, which was pre-destined for me to hold exhibitions in. So I rolled my sleeves up, and in July 2008 my first exhibition here opened. As banal as it sounds: I like looking at good art and just as much like sharing this experience with an interested public.

TJ: In the last year or so, there has been a wave of alternative spaces opening in Berlin, all of which are run by young gallerists like yourself. What distinguishes STYX Project Space from these other galleries?

MR: What differentiates me from other alternative art spaces in Berlin, I can’t really say. Neither do I have a precise overview, nor do I think that there is necessarily a common denominator for all of these projects. What differentiates me from established galleries is that I don’t have a designated orientation. I don’t put an emphasis on particular artistic media and I’m not interested in currents and trends. Decisive is only my personal taste. 

TJ: You’ve purposely decided to call STYX a “project space,” which gives one the sense that the intention behind the gallery is more curatorial than commercial. How important is the commercial aspect to the operation? As the sole gallerist/curator behind the project, isn’t it a challenge to balance your creative vision with the sales part of the organization?

MR: Success as a concept is interesting but not primarily on my agenda. I have low expenditure here and that’s why I’m not reliant on working from a market-oriented angle.

TJ: As a curator, do you have a particular platform or philosophy that you could describe?

MR: As mentioned, the concept is not to prescribe to a concept. Being adrift is my intellectual aspiration.

TJ: Do you have any special plans for STYX, either short-term or long-term, that you’d like to discuss?

MR: No. Of course those may emerge with time. But today and right now, I am not fixed on anything. I hope this building will be spared redevelopment for a long time, but that is beyond my control.

Travis Jeppesen

Travis Jeppesen's novels include The Suiciders, Wolf at the Door, and Victims. He is the recipient of a 2013 Arts Writers grant from Creative Capital/the Warhol Foundation. In 2014, his object-oriented writing was featured in the 2014 Whitney Biennial and in a solo exhibition at Wilkinson Gallery in London. A collection of novellas, All Fall, is forthcoming from Publication Studio. 

view all articles from this author