Creative Crimes With 97cm: Germanys New Wave Of Creativity
97cm is a creative collective from Frankfurt formed by Illya Gubin and Mehmet Cevik. Biancissimo is following the studios come up since they were founded in 2016 and it is finally time to tell you more about them.
It’s not exaggerated to say that 97cm belongs to one of the most exciting projects in Germany streetwear, art and fashion scene right now. At the same time 97cm still one of these best-kept secrets even though most of their designs, ideas and t-shirts are ahead of contemporary trends and hype.
Illya Gubin is a guy with a vision and being able to talk to him over the last two years in rare but very inspiring moments, made me always realise that 97cm is a project that will turn out highly interesting no matter in what direction the collective might drive to. From shirts, crafts and creative consulting, 97cm is a new bread of international creatives that are very hard to label, classify under a job title, tag or simply name.
There is a new generation of creative crews out there that you hardly can put into a box. From SUCUKUNDBRATWURST to even Kanye West`s DONDA, these collectives might design a shirt and sell prints today and will be behind a big advertisement for a sportswear brand the next day. There are literally no limits, at least not for them.
Just recently 97cm released their second capsule collection of clothing (get it here) and their first sculptural artwork. The perfect time for Biancissimo to talk to them and introduce their creative minds and work to you.
Creative Crimes With 97cm: Germanys New Wave Of Creativity
Interview By Juri Marian Gross
Hello! Please introduce yourselves to Biancissimo and tell us what you‘re doing.
IG: What’s up Biancissimo, I’m Illya. I’m currently working fulltime on 97cm.
CM: Castamuni, thanks for having us. In a constant flux experiencing, reflecting, learning…and trying to bring that underground to the surface. Keeping it moving. Always curious, Trying to seduce myself and fall in love with the world day by day. Breaking barriers, changing things. And not sleeping that much lately.
Let‘s talk about 97cm. What is the project about and when did you start working on it?
IG: We started 97cm in the beginning of October 2016 and everything began with the idea of making a magazine for film photography. Our first project/magazine had the title “Aufklärung”. The paper format was large – A3 with 50 pages only of film pics. With the time, our studio has grown, so have our interests in the art industry, and we decided to enter every door and do basically everything that attracts our interests. Thus, 97cm reflects our personal perceptions of the world, which we try to show with our art objects.
Also, clothing is a really important subject for us. I personally have worked in the fashion industry for about 9 years and it became a huge part of me. For the record, I don’t really like the word fashion. Our art and clothes have deep meanings that we always explain at our events to our friends, otherwise, they will be just objects and they won’t be interesting, you know. In other words, we try to give our art objects a soul. We always put a lot of work into research and designs - a lot!
CM: It is a space to create. A merging between two sharp visions experiencing and creating while combining different elements to communicate.
What’s the meaning of the name?
CM: A narrative code. Honesty and mortality.
IG: We love deep shit, which doesn’t appear to be what you think you see at the first moment. You have to think about it, like an enigma, yeah like a code, a chiffre. You know?
So the name “97cm” is an abbreviation. It derives from my name (Illya Gubin) initials and where they are located in the English alphabet (I = 9, G = 7), combined with his name (Mehmet Cevik) initials, so C and M. It’s not a length lol. The purpose was to make people contemplate what this name could mean. That lost thought sticks in memory!
You‘re kinda using Instagram as a moodboard. How much should online content influence offline creations? And how much can the internet (in this case Instagram) become your workspace if you’re actually focused on creating physical things?
IG: We are not presented much on IG. We also are not really trying to. It can’t become our workspace. We are using Instagram to tell our friends our daily stories or to show our process. It’s exactly more like a moodboard or portfolio as you said. When we were building 97cm Ladder, we posted the stages of the process, how we mixed cement, how we cut wood etc. For us, it’s more important to have a personal contact with our friends. IG is a great tool at this moment, but I’m still somebody who believes that a real-life experience makes a difference. We always launch our art objects within an event where we explain to our friends our visions and meanings of our designs. It’s really important for us, we believe this is the only way to be seen. And with seen, I mean not objective.
CM: Righty right. We give a sneak peek of a process of things, which are yet to become. The content you saw on Instagram lately was very important for our last project the 97cm LADDER.
We try to give our information in any case on our most individual and thoughtful way possible. No matter if Instagram, Clothing or our projects, we always try to communicate something more than you can see from the first sight.
Does Frankfurt as your current place to live influence your work?
IG: Yes, but in a different way. Frankfurt is obviously not a really creative city like Milan or London - bank city bro. But it gets more and more in the creativity – we will get the first museum of modern electronic music in the world, it will be sick. But people who live here have a huge city patriotism so that kind of really interesting and inspiring to see how people act differently here and don’t want to leave their hometown. It’s like a big family. If you compare it with Paris, Paris is corny.
CM: Everything in our biography is relevant for the work we do. Especially the Here and Now.
What moves you to work as a collective?
CM: We are very lucky. Both of us got something to say and I think we can express that through 97cm allowed to be naked and honest with our biography and feelings.
IG: We are bros. I would say we more like an atelier or just a studio. We are just trying to share our interests with the world. Its often something different ‘cause our interests are not here and now, they are somewhere beyond. That why it’s often not easy to understand. I don’t really know if it’s a good thing or a bad thing (I think it’s more of a bad thing), but we don’t really care, if we can just inspire a couple of people with our work, than we achieved a lot.
Did you do solo projects before?
CM: I do Castamuni, the project I was born into.
IG: Yes before 97cm, I released a couple of 35mm film Zines on my own. I still have hundreds of film pics unseen. Don’t know what to do with them. I had a huge passion for it. My cam was always with me, wherever I was, literally everywhere.
Your logo is a knock-off of the one of Bauhaus. Do you see any parallels between them and you?
IG: Haha, we love it. We sometimes even receive hate messages because of that logo, like “its not original”; “its not a design”; “be creative and do your own logo”; or some shit like that. But for us, to have seen through the Bauhaus logo design and to see the analogy to 97cm and be able to transform it into our 97cmFace logo, prove that human beings can see more than an anchored thought lol, also like our knock-off Metallica logo. So, we are trying to break the stereotype of seeing and thinking. People should learn to see more in an object than it is determined by the society stereotype. Also, the logo represents our interests, its a rock band logo and also art school. And since we both had a time in our youth listening to punk stuff and our love to materials, we decided to use it.
When I first saw your online presence content I had the association of industrial vibes; pictures of mundane things that the working class sees day by day. The concrete jungle. How important is material and form for you?
CM: Material and Form is our voice, a lyrics a symphony we try to communicate with. Everyone should have its own perception of it.
IG: Yes trying always to see everything. It gets so far that we start questioning ourselves if it even really is what we see.
Is producing garments in Germany the easiest way to handle it or a statement against the capitalistic fashion branch that utilises emerging markets to be able to reduce their factory costs?
IG: It’s easier to have communications and negotiations here. We don’t want to be political in any case.
Is your latest sculptural artwork (a ladder, which is half concrete with bars wrapped with barbed wire) a symbol for the limited possibilities for success in today’s society? Tell us the ideation process of that.
CM: We don’t think there is a limited possibility for success in todays society, it's more how and what you do with it.. The ladder symbolises our skeleton. It is made using measurements of our arm lengths and body height.
The Idea was to transform something that is around us every day. We were sitting in our atelier, and talking about to put that one note we wrote on a paper on our 4m ceiling. We had to use the ladder, which is all day around us and we recognised that there is a special energy coming out from this object in our atelier. Time passed and so the concept appeared of building a ladder transformed into a sculpture that shows all these steps from building a brand to working and moving with our body through today's world.
What’s next? hat are you working on at the moment?
IG: We are currently working on our new object and the only thing we can tell is, the object will not be tangible haha.
CM: Something I dreamed of a long time now.
Thank you for your time!
97cm: We appreciate your interest.