Hey Beni, long time no see.
Well... I have been busy... But actually I have a whole lot of time – so let’s take this slow.
Where are you at the moment?
Right now I am in St. Gallen, where I recently had a solo exhibition in the „Kunsthalle Sankt Gallen“ (Hall of the Arts St. Gallen) – and I’m still here for several duties. It’s raining and it’s foggy. I like the fog,I think it’s rather visually appealing.
So you live and work in St. Gallen – How do you like it there?
I don’t really have an opinion about that. Basically, it doesn’t matter to me where I am located or where I am working; If I don’t like it, I may go work somewhere else until I’m over it. I do not define myself with my location, neither workplace nor domicile – it’s stupid to do so. Yet, in fact, I hate it here – and at the same timeI love it. It’s not quite a hip place – but I don’t have to move to Berlin to network; I’ve got my own network right here. I mean, there is the internet and planes as well. St. Gallen gives me the opportunity to work well and stay focused,so apparently circumstances are really good. And you can feel pretty lost here. It might be rather provincial but I feel spledidly inspiredI grew up near the border to Austria. I like it here, in the border triangle. Besides there is a small, yet exciting art scene and a few good artists, who really have it going on.
What are you doing right now?
I’m drinking coffee on the dining-car on my way to cologne. Those dining-cars are not what they used to be.
Concerning your work, what or who are you inspired by?
No. Dieter Roth, Raymond Pettibon, Martin Kippenberger, Julian Schnabel, Norbert Möslang, Art Brut and a lot more... But also love, hate, war, evil, good, anything beautiful, damn ugly and damn sappy things, anything unbelievably dumb or intelligent, sciences, cosmology etc.
What’s your favourite colour?
What else do you like?
The gloss of leatherjacketsin the rain - It looks like my contemporary oil paintings. But I also like the Wiener Schnitzels of my nearly- mother-in-law, my mother’s bacon-casserole and my girlfriend’s Hörnli with ground meat. And I also fancy Pink Floyd, Chris Rea, The Ramones and The Nightingales.
Are you a brutal guy?
In what way?
In what way?
Yes, in what way?
In what way?
Yes... In what way?
In what way? Uhm... ( Long time thinking, his fingers nervously tapping on the glass table. ) Stupid question! On to the next one.
What is your third-deepest motivation?
To make people laugh.
Are you a clown?
FUCK YOU! But yeah, I am a clown.
And a jumping jack?
Uhm... No. But I am a court jester.
What is your fourth-deepest motivation?
Daily routine is boring somehow. My work is definetly a way to escape from that, pretty much my own universewith own rules and all that... What kinds of media do you work with? What different kinds of works did you create within the last few months?It all develops simultaneously. That means paintings, drawings, aquarels, photographies, inkjetprints, murals, collages, sculptures from clay, sculptures from cast, sculptures from chewing gum, wall-installations with chewing gum; it’sall influenced by eachother. Synergies establish. Coincedences. Messages and contents establish and boost each another.
Why would you do all that to yourself? What’s the sense?
Everything, that is not nonsense, is sense.
Are you inspired by literature? Books? Stories? Movies?
In parts. David Lynch’s movies are great. As well as his animation-series „Dumbland“; except for his drawingson napkins, it’s all rather inspiring.
You recently had a solo exhibition in the Kunsthalle St. Gallen. What was it about?
It was about absolutely everything. And it was about absolutely nothing. That made it difficult. I suffered like apig. It was great fun at the same! Working with Giovanni Carmine was great! Laugheda lot. Sometimes a brew in front of the sculpture. The result was a very personal exhibition about small, fine interests of mine. What was important to me, for example were contentual contrasts, various banalities and humor. A lot of people in the art world have their problems with humor in art – they think it was not intellectual enough. Most presumably they lack self-esteem. They all try to enhance their status by acting intellectual. Promoting one’s image. The exhibition was a very personal and intimate view into my self.
Do you think Giovanni Carmine (Kunsthalle Sankt Gallen’s director) is funny?
Yes, very funny.
Is he a clown?
Hey, no! He is an absolute professional! I think he’s a star.
If you had to give Carmine a sobriquet, what would it be?
Big John, why not?
Tell me about one of your works in the exhibition.
On a wallpaper that showsa sundown, the sea and palmtrees, the sun was burnt out with a Bunsen burner it caused a huge black hole. There are smoke stains on the wallpaper.
Which is your favourite work from the exhibition?
The film. A sequence of images set to sound. On the one hand there are banal
and stupid images in there like puppies in disguise, on the other hand there are images of weapons or fired off rockets. Additional tothis you hear jazz musicand laughter. The sequence shows the contrast between naive microcosmoses and the world’s great catastrophes.
Sounds like something serious.
No, it’s really funny, exciting ironic and entertaining.
Something else. What’s your favourite place on earth?
In Lompoc, California, the motel, room no. 6, right next to the gas station.
Which are your favourite moments in your workaday life?
Coffee before the storm. The feeling you get whena work is about to become great. Standing in front ofan empty canvas, sitting in front of an empty sheet of paper. Cluelessly holding the spraycan in front of the wall. It can be used versatilely, it’s cheap and uncomplicated.
Describe a special memory of anything from your past.
I’m eating yoghurt, safely hidden behind a curtain from the 70’s.
Hahahaha hahahahaha. Hahahahahahah ahahahahahahaha.
Hohohohohohoho hohohohohohoho. (Raising my hand to order another beer) That was a joke (Raising my hand to order another beer).
Are you stupid?
You’re an ignoramus.
What’s your favourite word?
“Idiot” simply sounds magnificent. And I can use it a lot in my daily routine. It’s just like a beautiful item you can use practically.
Keep on telling me about your work. What have you done yesterday?
I have made some new drawings and aquarels.
What do you fancy about them?
They are both funny and disturbing. That’s a contrastI quite like! On the aquarels one can see colour areas and words. On the one hand they appear beautiful and friendly on the other hand primitive and dumb.
You frequently manipulate existing images. How did you come up with that castle idea? And what do you like about it?
I found an old book about castles in my grandmother’s basement. I kept it for a long time. I knew that one day I was going to use it, work with it. I used to be generally interested in their symbolics, historical meaning andtheir clichés. But then the castles appeared to not be strong and fending enough.I meant to pimp them a bit. So what I did was to close all doors, windows and all other apertures. Also the roofs and surroundings were designed more concise. I wanted to have bunkers instead of fairy-tale-castles. You may give them various meanings. By closing all the apertures, it becomes impossible for light to enter the castle. So if anyone should live there at all, they would die. Hyper- compartmentalization is quite unhealthy.
So? Are you satisfied with the result?
I’m very satisfied, partially,as I have made a lot of them. Titled Added New Protection I have published most of them in my own Laser Magazin. Ilike the magazine a lot. Eight of the Castles published inthe magazine are availableas Inkjetprints as well. Their formats vary between 60x90 cm and 90x120 cm, while the large versions make them look even more massive - You can feel the cold walls on your back.
How do you edit the images?
Digitally, using image processing software. I scan the images and edit eachand every layer until I finally like the print. It’s like digital chiselling: Using a certain tool I hammer around the walls in the digital image.
Tell me about your other digitally manipulated works.
So, there was a series of prints for which I went on editing historical marble-sculptures digitally, with the same toolsI used fort the castles. For example sculptures made by Michelangelo or Bernini. It was a great feeling to be chiselling around on these history- charged figurines and creating new forms.
And the floating cars? How were you fascinated by those?
These works were basically about alteration of forms. But when you alter an object’s form, this alteration is accompanied by a change of the object’s meaning or message and particularly its function. Cars were floating out of an instant. Something like that just strikes the eye. A strong visual effect. Same fort he castles; a change of function. My works affect me when they start to drift away into surrealism. Yet not completely. Right on the border to surrealism is the place to be for me and my works.
Will there be further print- series containing image manipulation?
What will they look like?
I don’t know yet. I’ve got inner images and moods I care for. Something immaterial, yet not completely. Something with nature and organical structures.
And lastly; which of your works do you feel really close to?
I’m close to all of them. We’re a huge family. We stick together till an exhibition do us part.
How do you come up with all those new, absurd ideas?
They come to me.
One last question. Do you frequently interview yourself?
No, this ist he first time.
How did you like this interview?
Alright. Shall we go on laughing?
Of course. You start.