Artist Max Siedentopf’s new work examines societal optimism
For Berlin Art Week, he responds to a current global crisis with a special installation on the Soho House rooftop supported by Porsche
Thursday 15 September 2022 By Anastasiia Fedorova Photography by Marcus Mainz
Berlin-based artist Max Siedentopf has a rare talent for picking up the surreal, absurd and playful in our day-to-day existence – whether he’s creating cryptic sculptures addressing consumerism and dietary requirements, doing creative direction for Toilet Paper magazine or dressing puppies in Gucci. He’s hyperaware of the ‘memefication’ of our society and the ways it affects our sense of humour, hopes and dreams – all of which he has used as inspiration for his latest artwork, created for this year’s Berlin Art Week and displayed at Soho House Berlin with support from Porsche.
The House is located in the heart of the city (a short walk from Alexanderplatz), and this week our rooftop pool area – with views of some of Berlin’s landmarks, including the famous TV tower – has been closed for swimming to host Siedentopf’s installation titled ‘Don’t Worry Be Happy’. His work is a series of sculptors shaped as human hands with their thumbs up, while the rest of their bodies seem to be submerged underwater.
When asked what the message behind it was, Siedentopf says: ‘Wherever we look right now, it seems like there is chaos and disaster all around us. In the news we read of spiking inflation, a housing crisis, rising energy bills, food shortage, global droughts and floods, global warming, pandemics, war and rising global tensions, nuclear threats… the list goes on.
‘As we are drowned in all these headlines, there’s very little we can do except stay positive and keep going,’ he says. ‘“Don’t Worry Be Happy” symbolises this collective feeling. In the tongue-in-cheek installation, arms of all kinds of people of different ages are submerged underwater with only a semi-optimistic thumbs up sticking out. Even if we’re completely screwed, we’re all still trying to see the bright side and can keep a positive outlook for things to come.’
For some, the installation will act as light-hearted humour with a bitter aftertaste. For others, it will be a reminder to keep calm and carry on. Siedentopf welcomes this openness for interpretation. ‘Surprise and shock’ is what he wants people to feel when viewing his work. ‘Or they can just enjoy the lovely sunset on the rooftop with a cocktail,’ he says. ‘That’s really up to them.’
Explore Soho House Berlin here.
Looking for a rooftop swim? Here’s our guide to Soho House’s best pools around the world.