The annex room of the Lower Gallery presents a time capsule of Honey-Suckle Company’s activities in the mid-1990s, encompassing photographic and video documentation of their work from this period. Between 1994–95, the group produced several collections of clothing, which they presented through performances, installations and films in self-run spaces such as galerie berlintokyo. Worn by highly styled members and collaborators of the group, HSC’s wearable assemblages were made using cling film, duct tape, photocopied pages from books, plastic toys, deconstructed stuffed animals and computer parts. In the group’s second clothing collection, Tape Your Own Identity, worn assemblages can be seen as ‘rotating galleries’ of favourite images and clippings from newspapers and magazines. Although created during a pre-digital period, HSC’s clothing collections reveal how the collective’s work foreshadowed many prominent aspects of social media, including projected identities and desires. Alongside the clothing collections, members of HSC produced music and performed in bands such as Synthetic (with Captain Space Sex) and Batterie ON/OFF, as recorded in the photography on display. Also exhibited are videos and animations made during the same period using Super 8mm film, Hi-8 video formats, and Nintendo Game Boy graphic programmes, suggesting various influences including Japanese noise music, punk, new wave, glam rock and techno.
In addition to Materia Prima, the Upper Gallery contains a reformulation of Ohn End (2005) and Non Est Hic (2006). These works exist within HSC’s wider engagement with Lebensreform (‘life-reform’), a late-19th and early 20th-century German and Swiss social movement which promoted a back-to-nature lifestyle and disrupted conventional social boundaries. Alongside Ohn End/Non Est Hic, the projects Eswerde (2003) and Eaude (2005) make prominent use of flowing textiles as both clothing and architecture, and integrate folk-instrumentation such as the hurdy-gurdy, drawing on a ritualistic engagement with nature. Through these navigable spatial installations, HSC create the sense of an unbounded and undefinable reality, which references the group’s interest in spirituality. In recent years, the group have extended this interest to incorporate the practice of shamanic space cleansing into their work.
While the group has sustained core friendships and creative exchanges over its twenty-five-year existence, the make-up of Honey-Suckle Company has always been in flux. Current members and collaborators include Peter Kišur, Nina Rhode, Simone Gilges, Nico Ihlein, Lina Launhardt and the musicians Konrad Sprenger and Eleni Poulou.
Stefan Kalmár says:
‘Coinciding with one hundred years of Bauhaus and thirty years since the fall of the Berlin Wall, Honey Suckle Company’s first survey at the ICA is as timely as it is long overdue. The exhibition offers a chance to reflect through Honey-Suckle Company’s work the changes that Berlin has seen over the past twenty-five years. HSC’s work echoes a contemporary moment in which a younger generation is returning to values of collective care and healing through communal living and working together. Rather than focusing on corporate and commodifiable aesthetics, the group is approaching collectivity as a holistic method. Honey Suckle Company’s twenty-five years of work attest to the powerful ideal of a liminal, collective consciousness.’
Photo: Mark Blower and Jonathan Hordle/PA Wire