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Interview with Lukas Jakob: The Future of Collecting

Portrait of Lukas Jakob

At Collecteurs, one of our central missions is to demystify collecting and to highlight the cultural and creative agency of contemporary art patrons. Our interviews with collectors offer a deep-dive into the visions and themes that shape private collections. Often imagined as opaque and inaccessible, we turn this around to highlight the individuals behind this essential pillar of the art world.

Lukas Jakob is one of the youngest collectors in Germany. Based in Freiburg, his collection has the fresh gaze of Gen Z for whom the internet and video is a natural part of the history of art. His private collection is made available through annual public exhibitions and, of course, Collecteurs.

My goal is to embody the poetic idea of patronage that gives the collector a protective role rather than a role of ownership.

Liz Pace: You started collecting in 2016, what motivated you to start your own private collection?

Lukas Jakob: I grew up with the rich cultural context of the border triangle between Germany, France, and Switzerland. This gave me access to the annual fair days in Basel which is just a stone’s throw away. There are also many private collectors in the area whose stories and different styles of collecting have always interested me.

LP: The description of your collection proclaims that its goal is ‘constant expansion.’ Expansion can mean different things, as in, not just the volume of art, but the expansion of themes, interests, mediums, and even your goals as a collector. Have your intentions as a collector changed in the last seven years? Are there any pieces you are in the midst of acquiring or want to one day add to the collection?

LJ: My goal is to embody the poetic idea of patronage that gives the collector a protective role rather than a role of ownership. This involves creating strong connections to artworks but even more so to artists. Working on my collections’ profile sharpened my understanding of art when looking through what is on offer at fairs, or gallery programmes that are interesting for me to follow. There is an exciting moment in an artist's career: the moment of entering the market.

I am proud to have been included as the youngest collector in the current issue of BMW Art Guide by Independent Collectors with a spotlight on my collection. The Jakob Collection had its first institutional show at the Galerie für Gegenwartskunst at E-Werk Freiburg in Breisgau, Germany. In terms of visibility and reach it is achieving expansion through annual public showings and new acquisitions. Currently I am eagerly waiting for the release of this year's participating galleries at Paris Internationale.

LP: The pieces in your collection are interlinked by the themes of ‘regionalization and globalization, body and socialization, environment and social politics of the present.’ These are heavy words, but they seem to highlight a deep interest in navigating today’s social life, ranging from focus on the individual to wider focus on countries, nations, or even the world. Tell me more about your message, as well as some pieces you feel encapsulate the intention of your collection.

LJ: I am thankful to the artists who have granted me access to these previously unexplored subjects. Their perspectives range from personal narratives to global research, resembling a post-digital future laboratory. It is enriching to witness how these works, despite their thematic diversity, complement one another. It is of great importance to me to remain receptive to new topics. When engaging with contemporary art, one is inevitably confronted with the issues of the present moment. I continually ponder: What defines the DNA of my generation?

Through Thomas Liu Le Lann's poetic sculptures, I challenge the conventional perception of masculinity. His seven-meter soft-hero, "Shion," in a flaccid state, appears to have been abandoned by the world around it. Cloaked in a harlequin mask, it's difficult to discern whether he's headed to a fetish party or planning the next bank robbery. This overtaxed superhero serves as an emblem of our crisis-ridden era. I observe with humility as Thomas Liu Le Lann accentuates qualities such as vulnerability, fragility, and even his own insecurities.

A pink sphere made of glass is mounted on a white wall via a metal hanger.

Thomas Liu Le Lann / TOY, 2019

Jasmine Gregory's works compel me to engage in critical reflection regarding the intersection of finance and the art market. Her material collages seamlessly blend themes such as the upper-class, Swiss financial aristocracy, Old Money, and even drag and trash-TV culture. I find myself pondering what these opulent, albeit avoidable, luxury segments truly provide us in the grand scheme of things. Her works are adorned with exaggerated titles like "Better Than Botox".

I vividly recall being captivated as a teenager by the computer game aesthetics found in Rindon Johnson's video works, which have remained an integral part of my collection, representing early access to an enduring fascination.

LP: A piece that stands out to me in your collection is “We Are All Under the Same Sky” by Gabriella Torres-Ferrer. The piece, highlighted in one of the world's first digital exhibitions '1-31' on Collecteurs, is made of emergency blankets and discusses society’s connection/disconnection from each other even though we ‘all live under the same sky’. What drew you to this piece in particular, and why did you add it to your collection?

LJ: "We Are All Under the Same Sky" looks at practices of digital data mining as unregulated ecologies. The installation features a cloud equipped with a programmed motion sensor, which reacts to all activity within a 3-meter radius by emitting sound fragments. These sounds are derived from the storage and registration of data from the Internet. This artwork prompts us to ponder the extent to which the information we leave behind in the digital realm is harnessed and utilized. It poses questions about social profiling – the gathering of personal data to construct individual information packages, wielded as a potent political instrument of control. The artwork also ties to the impact of Hurricane Maria in 2017 in Puerto Rico.

Rindon Johnson / I First you, 2018

Jasmine Gregory / Better Than Botox, 2023

In today's context, a so-called "Contemporary Art Collection" would feel incomplete without the inclusion of video works.

What strikes a chord with me is how this piece thrives on social interaction with visitors. Additionally, the fact that the artwork gradually "fades away" throughout the duration of the exhibition, ultimately leaving behind only an empty, golden shell on the floor, is emblematic of Gabriella Torres-Ferrer's artistic approach.

LP: Furthermore, what do you feel that this piece adds to the ethos of your collection?

LJ: I am reminded of the initial encounter I had with it at the LISTE art fair in Basel. The floating balloon, equipped with a blinking motion detector, left me utterly bewildered. I struggled to grasp what was unfolding before me, and I must admit, it evoked a sense of unease and trepidation. Curiously, it is often these disconcerting and perplexing moments that hold a special allure within the works of art in my collection.

LP: Many of your collection pieces are less-traditional forms of art, such as installations, videos, and even audios. Why do you collect these mediums? What draws you to them? Many argue these are harder to collect or display.

LJ: As I observe the landscape of international art fairs, particularly those showcasing young artists, I've noticed a certain equilibrium among various media. In today's context, a so-called "Contemporary Art Collection" would feel incomplete without the inclusion of video works. This is especially true for pieces that require installation. It offers a unique opportunity to engage directly with the artist, collaborating on the site-specific construction of the artwork or even its documentation. This collaborative process helps me nurture a close and enduring relationship with the artists in my collection.

A huge, air-filled, golden, pillow-like balloon is suspended from the ceiling of an art gallery with a glass ceiling, white walls, and a floor covered with newspaper leaves.

Gabriella Torres Ferrer / We Are All Under the Same Sky, 2018

LP: You allow pieces from your collection to be displayed in galleries/for exhibitions, as well as uploading to Collecteurs and allowing personal viewings. Why are you so passionate about sharing your collection? How can collectors foster an arts community?

LJ: The motivation to share pieces from my collection with the public has been a long-standing passion that grew stronger, particularly when I acquired works that were too large for me to personally live with. Sharing these artworks allows me to revisit and reconnect with them myself. Being part of Generation Z, I feel comfortable leveraging various networks, including social media, to share the collection.

Through platforms like Collecteurs, I've not only had the chance to exhibit works but also to rediscover them in new ways. It's been a joy to find that some artists in my collection have had their works acquired by other collectors through these connections. This experience has shown me that fostering an arts community can be enjoyable and rewarding, as it enables us to discover, connect, and engage with art on multiple levels.

Are you a passionate writer with a unique perspective on contemporary art, culture, and social justice or an individual with untold stories or overlooked insights?
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Ole Clarte3 months ago
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