Kappa is a metalworker and probably one of the last people still living in the Tacheles Kunsthaus in the heart of Berlin. He has a little wooden cabin at the back of the Metalwerkstatt Tacheles Sculpture Park, and there continues to produce artworks. His special form of art is “Kappaland”, a small garden on wheels that you can park anywhere in the city to retain nature back form the cars. It conceptually represents our planet, and us, like electrons, revolving around it. Here’s a story of the art and the man behind it.

My name is Angelo Laconte. I was born in Canosa di Puglia, the 9th of april 1962 from a peasant family. I am the last of seven brothers, all of which are artisans. I grew up in the fields between cows, with complicated metal structures, intricate machinery, and the smell of molten metal. And then housing constructions, smell of reconstruction, and fused motors brought back to life. Also, the smells and colors of homemade pasta with raddish buds, pizzas, and lastly, needle, stricg, and kite. I believe to also be made up of these elements. After a professional training school, I received the diploma as mechanical repairsman. I too was ready to become an artisan working with the hands and the mind. I see life as a castle of cards which has been built up of each and every moment. One cannot allow oneself to eliminate any card, and one can also never allow oneself to say “I would have rather never have met you”, because every encounter and coincidence has already modified our destiny. Although destiny exists, it cannot be revealed. We can only travel back to the beginning our adventure and reflect upon and determine everything that has happened. Everything that happens, is necessarily bound to happen, because it has already happened. That which will happen in the future will be revealed as we proceed. The path we have chosen is essentially where we ended up. I don’t know if destiny is written, but what I do know is that looking back in the retroscope, everything that happens, although it seems completely casually and in a disorganized maner, is like looking at the stars. Certainly, they are not laid out in an organized manner, like in the flag of the USA, but rather are spread out in evry which position by effect of the cosmic events. Or the moon, which is not perfectly round, but comes off looking so round, that it is infinite and perfect. A huge shining rock And so the mind returns to the source of light. This said, after many years of my artistic and self-learnt path, I believe to have connected to the mind and the hands, also my heart, and it is unthinkable to pedal through these streets without it.

I got to Germany by bicycle. I reached Kassel in September 2008, and I didn’t have much money left for wandering, so I bought a train ticket and reached Berlin with 3-4 euros. But I had some works to sell, and so it was not a problem for me. In Berlin I found a special kind of energy, and it reminded me of how Milan was in the 70s and 80s. The people seemed happy, laughing, the air was good, the sky was beautiful, and I fell in love.

It was not my plan to squat here. I didn’t even know what squatting meant, until I got here, for example. I had come here to look for peace, and then I met these people. This section of the Tacheles, the gardens, where the sculpture garden still exists, is the moon of the Tacheles. When the Tacheles was opened, it shined here. It is now a rock without light. It connects to mother death, like the back of old furniture, the ugly side. Some silhouettes move within it, human silhouettes. The damages I have incurred into here do not compare to the privileges. The situation here is critical, and history is being written, in an unblatant manner. I ignore the problem, and am not even very interested in it. This is where I ended up, this is where I have to bring forth my work, my dignity, and that’s all.

Kappaland is one of my works, here. I will have to tell you another fairytale to explain it. It is an idea that emerged from the asphalt. It was in 2007 and that the idea comes alive. But I since many years before moved through several artist ateliers. In these several years I had collected some pieces of earth, some from Holland, some from Milan, and other random places.. I had saved these chunks of earth, and was accumulating them and putting them together. For seven years I had this earth, until when in 2007 I had to move Ateliers. I constructed a big tensostructure out of plastic, and used the earth to keep the structure anchored to the ground. Water would collect in a certain pace, nourishing it. Afterwards, when once again I changed ateliers, this time I was living in a skate park and ex-bus station. All covered in asphalt, I suddenly thought: through time, all this asphalt had covered the earth. The moment in which I then threw the earth on top of the asphalt, I thought of how to clean and organize it, and then I thought: cars have taken over so much earth.10 sqm of asphalt and a vehicle on top. If I put wheels under my piece of earth, nobody will be able to tell me that it cannot be so. With this system, I can reclaim that piece of occupied earth again. I realized it and have since brought it with me. We divided the piece of earth (approx. 2,7 m x 2,7 m) in square millimiters, and sold each millimiter to willing buyers. It was conceived as a little garden and only here was coined the name “Kappaland”.

It is possible to buy one square millimeter of this fantastic land. It conceptually represents our planet. And us, like electrons, revolve around it. And wherever we are, we are present. Present in the measure of our own feet, and in the timespan of our lifetime. Basically, possessing what is convenient for us doesn’t really have a sense, inventing it does. This is what serious people do. Capable of becoming children once again, here in Kappaland. Time wasters stay away, because time here doesn’t exist. This is along the lines of what I would explain to passerby’s, and oftentimes when I would, to my amazement, they would buy a portion of land for five euros. Whenever they would, very absurd events would take place. They often left with the firm conviction of having contributed to something unexplainable with words.

I brought Kappaland here from Italy. I had the feeling that by bringing it to Tacheles, and encountering the people that I would, I would receive the confirmation that this was an idea. And everything that has been said is nothing compared to what has been realized through this idea. I have collected over 1350 pages of testimonials written by people who became honorary presidents of Kappaland, and they are all being archived and registered and will one day be published.

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  • igor hermann

    I have a love hate relationship with sculpture. Perhaps I have studied too much Art History and now my mind cannot comprehend the grandeur that contemporary sculpture offers it’s viewers. But where I have trouble understanding the aesthetic considerations and appeal of most modern sculpture, Kappa/Angelo Laconte, seems to have something truly worth seeing.