Drifter, Café-Goer, Co-Founder of JAMES COWARD
Photographed by Jack Hare in Berlin, Germany
This morning started, as most mornings do, with a walk around my neighbourhood, Wedding. Often overlooked in Berlin, this area has a Quiet Charm & an Elegance of Ease. I love to observe the familiar faces of elderly Turkish men & women in Well-Worn tailored Garments, as they go about their daily business.
Despite the oppressive gray atmosphere outside, something I have learned to love, Jack & I take pleasure in spontaneously wandering around to see what chance might provide.
I am still thinking about a conversation I had the other day with my friend, Shouji. We were walking around the city and talking about the meaning of Creation in the context of Everday Life.
Given the current circumstances that we are all thrown into, we are all faced with a Decision: do we fight for our Creation, or do we sit on our hands and feel helpless.
Shouji put it beautifully, “We are fighting for our Creation, we are creating a new way to live, everyday.” We both agreed this is the only point in Life that truly matters for us. Everything is peripheral and secondary in relation to our desire to Create. Not so much a specific form, but rather the Creation of Life itself.
This reminds me of a statement by Joseph Beuys, “Every Human Being is an Artist.” For me, this means that the act of Living itself is the most radical act of Creation, a contribution towards the Total Social Sculpture, everyday, through every Action. If we could only grasp the limitless energy of each moment as it pulses through our veins, how would we live our lives differently?
My feeling is that everyday Creation has greater emancipatory potential than Fine Art.
Maybe this is a provocative proposition, but so what? Now is the moment to Propose Provocations & Dream Dangerously if there ever was one.
Since arriving in Berlin I have begun a chapter of my life dedicated to Creation. I moved here to work for a clothing designer in West Berlin, but after two years I outgrew the company. I planned a visit back home to Vancouver where I would present a small solo exhibition of photos & collected objects from the last two years, entitled “Memory, Meaning, & Lack Thereof.” I believed, at the time, that this was the way to punctuate my time in Berlin & move onto somewhere new.
By this time, I had accepted the idea of moving to Paris, as I had been visiting regularly and always felt at home in cafes or walking the streets, in search of Something. Some Moments of Divine Madness, which strike like Lightning. These seem to occur more often for me in Paris than other places.
In any case, I was telling my good friend, Dylan, about my plan and he instead proposed that I stay in Berlin and come work at his restaurant, Ernst.
Although I knew this would be more challenging than anything else I had ever experienced, I was quite intrigued by the challenge itself and have grown comfortable working in the face of Failure.
To put it lightly, Ernst is not a normal restaurant & working there is a total commitment of physical & mental strength and an immense test on your Will of Spirit. I have many stories from my time at the restaurant, but the year I worked there was very much a Rebirth through Fire. In comparison, nothing is as challenging, not so many things frighten me anymore.
When I left the company, Dylan once again offered me a proposition, “Would you like to produce new uniforms for the renovation of the restaurant?” This would also include making curtains and napkins, as well as selecting and sourcing all textiles with a sensitivity of how they would synthesize into the new beautiful new space, designed by a wonderful architect from Copenhagen named, Salem Charabi.
I accepted the project and together with my friend, Osamu (who I respect more than anyone else I know, in regards to the Physical Process & Action of Making Garments), we produced four Made To Measure uniforms for the Ernst staff. I am proud to say we did everything ourselves from start to finish, from beginning to end, nothing was outsourced. Each garment was the culmination of about 40 hours of focused work.
To meet the deadline I remember working 30 hours straight without sleep, which I’m quite confident was made possible by my training at Ernst.
After working for the clothing designer when I arrived in Berlin, I felt as though I had lost my enthusiasm for creating garments. Oddly enough, it was only after going through Ernst that I was able to find that Joy again.
Osamu & I will continue to work as a two-person production collaboration, half-jokingly called “Berlin Blues”. We will only select interesting projects, which demand our total Effort and Emotion for Creation.
At the same time we both work on our own clothing companies, he on ARAI and I on JAMES COWARD, which is a cross-continental Conspiracy comprised of Dear Friends working between Vancouver, Berlin, & Tokyo.
The interplay & tension from these different creative works provide me the Nourishment to continue moving forward during difficult moments.
For some of us this year has been a time of substantial growth, not because we planned it, but because we feel the urgency of the moment. The desperate desire to fulfill some Dreams while we still have Breath in our breast.
There is a poem from Tagore I always keep hidden deep within my heart, but here I feel it may be appropriate to share an excerpt:
Let me not pray to be sheltered from dangers But to be fearless in facing them.
Let me not beg for the stilling of my pain But for the heart to conquer it.