Martin Niklas Wieser Portrait
Heritage and the confusion of (male) identity build the recurrent constant in Martin Niklas Wieser's work. The withdrawn and froward nature of South Tyrol provides the scenery for his interdisciplinary debate of fashion and art. Intellectual garments with meaning. Manipulated from their original form. Abstracted from their vague initial context.
‘Wut’ Fall/Winter 2010
Dear Martin, how are you and what are you wearing today?
I’m very well, thanks! I’m wearing my favourite black jeans, a white T-shirt and my new boots with front zipper.
Tell us about your work. What do we have to know about you?
I am producing bi-annual collections. I am also working on projects, varying from fine arts to publishing.
What is your agenda, your personal manifesto?
I like the idea of a personal manifesto, although this idea is very vague to me right now. I think anything goes, as long as I can see a personal attitude or statement behind the work.
What would you consider your first piece of work, an initial moment?
Some seasons ago I did a full body hair piece. I would consider that as an initial moment.
Your work is wafting between fine arts and fashion design, yet the final outcome remains separate from each other. Could you imagine melting both concepts into one collection, respectively art installation?
When I started doing my collections, I didn't really draw a line between art and fashion; it all came together naturally. When I moved on, I started to separate the two aspects more and more from each other. As they build upon different parameters, it is wise to focus on one thing at a time. Fashion demands a lot of concentration. So does art and I take it just as serious. I like the idea of bringing the two disciplines together but I also like to show the melting line.
‘Wut’ Fall/Winter 2010
With your latest project 'Wut' you refer to pornographic stereotypes. Which specific aspects are you contemplating?
We live at a time in which we are flooded with sexual and pornographic images. In virtual life we meet a totally overexposed idea of sexuality. What led to the reference was this covered drive for sex in our society and how we, as individuals, cope with this ambivalence.
How does this approach reflect through the garments? What are the signature reference points?
The conceptional background is entirely abstracted when it comes to the product. It serves more as a psychological impetus. All that remains is a shadow, an aftertaste. The clothes don't resemble the initial picture, they work on their own principles.
Your figures appear slightly frightened and daunted. What happened to them?
I think the figures embody a sort of displaced sexuality, a sexuality that is taking place in their thoughts. It is a mistake to intellectualize sex. On the other side, I cannot help but having a strong affection for intellect and intelligence. I don't think they are frightened, they are rather lost in their thoughts and challenged by their lust.
‘Hometownboy – German Piece of Wood’ Fall/Winter 2009
I am also deeply in love with your all-white collection 'Hometownboy – German Piece of Wood', an homage to your small-town philosophies and the stiffness of German personality. How did your conviction and love translate into the final garments?
The whole project happened very intuitively. The collection very much grew out of the process and out of my living situation back then. In an afterthought the work is pretty much indulging in the question of self-perception. We all have our origin. To know where you are coming from was always very relevant for me. I still have a strong relation to my hometown. If you go through a lot of changes in your life you will always keep the picture of who you were in your mind. In good and bad terms.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in a little village in the north of Italy. It lies within a German speaking alpine region. The picturesque scenery collides with a strong cultural antagonism. The understanding of cultural identity is totally over-defeminised as the German population was struggling for acceptance for years. Subsequently, people living there have a strong sense of tradition.
Why white war paint, why roped and dislocated proportions?
Many of my projects are driven by emotion. As for the 'Hometownboy – German Piece of Wood' collection the shaping was a rather emotional act. When I look back now, I can see myself in the pictures. The proportions and paint signalize confusion and coverage.
What is significantly German to you?
You don't necessarily feel German until you leave Germany, or as in my case, a very German orientated area. I am not sure if there is anything as national identity, but I do like the question of origin.
What is your answer to this question of origin?
My origin is very much predefined in a way. Although it is vague in a nationalistic way, my family background is very stable as it builds upon tradition and constancy.
Is the German restricted and hold hostage by his own characteristics?
No, not in a generalized way. I think everyone, German or not, should question and challenge himself.
'Südtirol' drawing, Martin Niklas Wieser
What kind of man do you have in mind when designing clothes?
I started off designing for men and women. I did not distinguish between sex. The idea to have a specific person in mind is relatively new to me, but it becomes more relevant.
So who is he?
Smart, driven, a little shy probably. Strong at will and slightly lost. I like honesty in people; I am intrigued by character and stubbornness.
How would you dress Horst? Which side of his personality would you emphasise?
The clever and the sexy one. I actually liked the jock strap on you.
You worked with Bernhard Willhelm. As we do love and worship him, how is he as a person?
I admire him for his endless creativity and ambition. He is not scared to re-define fashion after his personal terms. You wont find may people like him in the fashion business.
We also share an attraction to Romain Kremer…
The fact that his work has the capability to create an universe of his own is reason enough to admire him. He seems to have a very clear vision and refines it continuously. His design is very innovative and precise; what he does hasn't happened before. It is so refreshing in a fashion world with endless repetition and self-reference. And he just does it right, every season he comes up with a stronger picture of what is Romain Kremer.
If you were an object, what would it be? Romain is a rocket by the way…
A rocket is a very sexy object. Can I be the engine?
Any other icons, objects, things that move you deeply?
Nature moves me. Everyday happenings as well.
You once stated every boy should have a rock in his pockets. Could you elaborate on this thesis?
Use it as your totem or defence.
The Fable Of The Friendly Bear, 18th Century
Have you ever tried the Kamasutra?
Actually I have not, or not that I knew of.
What is your darkest fantasy?
Not to care.
What are your favourite parts of the male and female body?
The face. I also find hands and arms highly sensual. I love strong hands on men. They signalize safety.
How can one seduce you?
By being smart.
'Eso' Spring/Summer 2009
What do you aim for when dressing a person in your garments?
I like the idea of being part of something, to share a view on things or to have a common interest. I hope my clothes can transport a hint of companionship.
Do you see a notion of yourself caressing the body wearing your pieces?
Partly yes, but I like to differentiate more and more.
How would you re-create yourself? Which materials, textures, colours would you consist of. What kind of garment would you be?
I'd go for black goat's leather and a black basic cotton quality. Both materials keep their own strong characteristics yet correspond quite nicely. I like the unity and the diversity about it.
Which artists do speak to you creatively and emotionally?
I know some young personalities in the Berlin artistic underground scene who inspire me. I like the over-acoutisized opinions and attitudes of young, not established artists.
Could you give us any names, examples, one artwork that currently attracts you?
I am a huge fan of painting. I love the traditional aspect about it. I like the old masters such as Gerhard Richter and Martin Kippenberger.
I.G., Gerhard Richter, 1993
Is designing, respectively drawing, a deeply emotional process to you, or more likely a purely technical task?
This is quite ambivalent. In a realistic point of view it doesn't make much sense to super-ordinate your personal issues; in fashion, as in any design, you have to cater to the market. On the other side it is your personal quest which keeps you going.
What will be the next project of Martin Niklas Wieser?
The project is very schizophrenic in a way. My ideas are competing right now. The collection is slightly overloaded with information and over-intellectualized.
What is schizophrenic about it? Will there be a signature detail you can reveal?
Everything really. There is an inner drive to break things down to something simple and clear, and at the same time this urge to say as much as I can. I am quite optimistic though that in the end everything will make sense.
What would you like to achieve?
I would like to reach the point where my work incorporates my vision.
What would you like to experiment with?
I love cooperations. I think there lies so much potential in good people working together. I'd love to work with Bruna Kazinoti for instance. I would also love to do a video.
What are you afraid of?
To lose affection for what I am doing.
Have you been close to that emotion?
Many times. It seems very natural though. It is part of the process.
When do you doubt yourself?
When I fail.
'White' drawings, 2009
Black or white?
Silver or gold?
Master or slave?
What was the last book you read, the last movie you saw, the last dinner you enjoyed?
I am deeply in love with Elfriede Jelinek. I think she treats language as a matter of art. Every sentence is phrased perfectly. I love words. I have been seeing 'Chloe' lately. It wasn't my choice really, but I enjoyed it in a way. I have this fling for upper class inellectualism, it already fascinated me when I was a little child. My last dinner was probably take-away food. I love food and I love to cook, but I also like cheap food!
Anything else we need to know?
Not right now.
Please give us a little something…
Haha, you are so resistant. I will actually leave Europe for a while. I will spend my summer in New York. I was always attracted by this city, I am full of anticipation.
What do you love about yourself?
That I cannot help but do what I think is right for me.
And finally, what do you love about Lynn&Horst?
I like the aspect of irony about it, and the personal touch. The internet led to an overall anonymization in so many fields.