Renowned tattoo gallery and art hub AKA in Kreuzberg is getting more and more respect in the alternative and creative world, not just in Berlin but in other major cities around the world for reeling in the best of the best tattoo artists and creatives to work and exhibit for a short time in the gallery. I spoke to Jon John, Berlin party boy and co owner of AKA...
Jon John, you [correct me if i'm wrong] co-own AKA, can you explain exactly to people what it is?
AKA is a hybrid art space, multidisciplinary, and an evolving project following an artist residency.
How long has it been running for and what gave you the initiative to start it?
We just celebrated our 1 year aniversary. As a multidisciplinary artist, it has always been hard to fine some space combining different art practices, Being in a city like Berlin which is focused and filled with artists pushed me, and under the impulsion of Valentin (co owner)... The story began.
So first of all AKA is an artist run space, so valentin and I are not only owner, but part and contributing into the AKA project, as we use the space for our respective art activity.
There is large tattoo activity. For being in the world of tattoo for quiet a long time now, i have the opportunity to have amazing artist as friends. The idea is to bring them to berlin, every two months in general, as guest artists for a week.
Then we have a resident team of tattoo artists, photographers, performers, silkscreen artists...
All those people, coming from different backgrounds, using different techniques, and evaluating each others work, sharing and guessing create AKA. What we usually call, the family.
The idea was to give to people in our surrounding, friends, the opportunity to have a space to work, and to be all together.
So it's like a small community, a community of tattooed and pierced beauties! I can safely say that your tattoo parlor is one of my favorites in europe just from the quality of work that is pumped out, You have had some of the biggest names in not only contemporary but classic tattoo artists come visit AKA, can you let us in on who is coming in the near future?
I've been working on the bookings of some new tattoo artists for 2011, NOON is gonna be here in March, And for the begining of the summer we'll start to present the italian style with the artists from The Saint Mariner in Milan, Then there should be some more Italian artists to follow. AKA will soon be opened to my greek connections aswell, with tattooligans from thesaloniki. I'm also actually working on an English booking, but can't say any names for the moment, That's to be revealed. [he smirks]
Well, well, well, Italians, Greeks, Brits... I know where i'm going to be in March! Your job at AKA consists of doing the piercing and body modification side of things, but also there is the gallery space which you have been known to rock out at times, have you got any exhibitions coming up or running at the moment which are something unmissable?
Good that you mention that one, Amazing Ango the meekdead show "sexdate turned into a massive bloodbrawl" is just over. We'll be pleased to showcase in 2011 fantastic works by LNY, Julie fogarty, Massimo gurnari, Kiril Bikov, Richard james hancock, another group show aswell.
I'm working on a gallery exchange with Barcelona, so AKA is going to be there by the end of June presenting 5 artists with a performance evening. I'll personally be reducing my involvment on the piercing side, Next year I shall only work on appointment/request, as we want to design and produce our own clothing collection, so we gonna open a showroom at AKA.
I've been doing piercing for 10 years now, i've been a teacher in this field. I'm still doing it with a lot of love (and care), but i also have my performance career to honor, I'm currently working on new multimedia performance pieces, videos and other needs and passions that I want to fullfill as I explained, so piercing at AKA is going to be a bit more "exclusive", but deffo still done with my heart.
Aw shame! You're a brilliant piercer, but also your perfomance side is compelling so it's understandable, so... For our international readers, you travel around to different parlors in europe and offer your piercing and body modification services, Where is next on the map for you? and where can people book?
I'm quite often quest appearing at "extreme needle" in london, and I should be there in March and June, still not sure of the exact dates though.
Really! I got my septum done at extreme needle! Okay, now I want gossip... What is your favorite tattoo that you have seen created at AKA?
That s too cruel as a question, I'm too pasionate by body ornament to only have one fave, I've got my dream team here and really admire and respect their work, but... Guy le tatooer's style is deffo my fav.
His stuff is mind blowing, He did a few of my friends ink, really quite spectacular to look at isn't it! So lastly Jon John, Is there anything else you would like to mention about AKA that you think readers should know?
Well, AKA have put on it's new jewellery collection, check it out, that s our new born baby
(akajewellery.tumblr.com/archive), And I really would like to thank again all the artists collaborating with us on the AKA project, thank you for being able to make me proudly (and cheesily) say "WE ARE FAMILY!".
Cool! and what a strange and lovely family you all are. Thank you Jon John for answering my questions!
Thank you Jackee!