Art is never easy to define. When it comes to that of Nina Rhode, an artist living in the German capital, Berlin, that task could prove yet more complicated. Her art is essentially an experiment.
Nina Rhode is all about experimenting with ideas
If you ask Nina Rhode what kind of art she produces, you may get the following answer, or at least something close: "Well, I would say I do multi-media experiments."
You can get a pretty good sense of what Nina means by looking at the picture that's hanging right in the middle of her living room. It's a picture of a picture. Well actually it's a picture of a moving picture, or to be more precise of four simultaneously rotating objects.
Four simultaneously moving objects or a harmony of chaos?
On a large black disk, three other discs (blue, red, yellow) are set up. When they all rotate simultaneously, a "harmony of chaos," as Nina puts it, is what you see. This is one of the 38-year-old's "typical" experiments.
"I like it when things aren't perfect. Because then there's at least the possibility for randomness. These discs here aren't perfect. But that's why they create such an exciting irritation. If I had it my way, things would always be left up to chance. Because chaos is more interesting than perfection or order," says Nina.
Edding the cat
Order and randomness - this is a fitting contradiction for Nina. There's no routine in her life - at least none that I could see. The only thing that gives Nina even a shade of routine is her cat, Edding.
"He wakes me up every morning by jumping on me and staring at me until I open my eyes. Then I get up and make myself some coffee - and of course - Edding some food."
Nina's apartment? Paradise for Edding the cat
A few years back, when she moved into her enormous apartment in Berlin Wedding - an old worker's district where the apartments are quite affordable for some standards, downright cheap for others - Nina had a problem: Rats. She tried traps and poison, to no avail. Then she discovered the cat Henning - whom she quickly renamed, Edding - and the black and white beast gladly took on the task of eliminating Nina's rat problem.
As it turned out, Edding was a little too ambitious; a few weeks later, once all the rats were gone, Nina started finding dead mice in her apartment. This was the work of Edding, who was gathering rodents from around the neighbourhood and presenting them to master Nina. "Yeah, well, instead of rats now I had tortured mice," says Nina with a smirk.
A life for art
At present, Nina exhibits her work at a gallery in downtown Berlin. Ever since graduating from college, she's been in the German capital. She hopes that people enjoy viewing her art, because she says that's the whole point.
Of course, she hopes that now and then she can sell some of her works, for in the end - apart from a few other things, such as her champagne bar - that's how she makes her living. At times it can be hard to live without a regular income, she says. But when asked about her priorities in life: "I'd rather have a tube of paint than a full stomach," she says.
So what is happiness for Nina? First off, her studio: no problem, it's just downstairs on the first floor of her two-story apartment. More important, though, are the materials for further experiments. It seems to me she'd be happy just pursuing her ideas and living for her art - and maybe her cat, too.
Author: Gabriel Borrud
Editor: Rina Goldenberg