Coffee and a Cigarette with
What interests me? Well, everything, in a word. When it comes to works of art, then I’m mainly drawn to those in which various qualities are fused. I mean emotional, formal, aesthetic qualities, as well as an intellectual interest. In my view, the hallmark of good art is that it speaks to me on all of these levels. Personally, I have never specialised in anything in art – in terms of media or of thematic content. Nevertheless, I find in-depth treatment of a single theme invaluable. Although what counts then, in my experience, is not so much the theme itself as the lengthy preoccupation with it. One issue I’m addressing at the moment, given its growing impact on our lives, is how we handle digital technologies. Another issue is space – this has preoccupied me for a long while already, and very fundamentally, in relation to installation art as well as to images, pictorial realms, both actual and imaginary. We are evidently propelled through life by the images in our mind’s eye as well as by core values; they influence our actions, often without us even realising it. In this respect I’d have to describe the lecturer in me as an all-rounder, with regard both to the themes addressed and the sound practical craft techniques and other skills that I bring to the task. For me, one great good fortune is that art, at its best, brings together the hand, the heart and the mind, respectively all of the things that make us human. This is why it is key for me, when teaching, to clarify for students the many benefits of thinking methodically about one’s artistic practice, of analysing one’s practice in light of theoretical positions. An intellectual understanding of what I do – or, in retrospect, of what I have done – really helps me situate myself as an artist in the art context. Not that we should overlook the importance of the non-cognitive realms of art, i.e. of remaining equally attentive to the “outer” and “inner” circumstances that are my creative source. I was raised in a sociable context so I’ve developed a great sensitivity to human interaction in the broadest possible sense. This sensitivity and my interest in societal phenomena are equally important to me, both in my own art and in my work with students. In my view, there are always two major aspects to any teaching I do: the first is to see the persons in front of me for who they really are and to try to step into their shoes, so as to see their point of view and better understand what makes them tick; and also to challenge them, as far as possible, to make the most of whatever happens to be distinctly “their thing”. The second is to find the exact right moment and the appropriate way to pass on the issues, themes, positions and skills that mean a lot to me. What do I expect from the students? That they bring along interest, openness and, above all, a huge amount of commitment to their goals. For me, cooperation with students rests ideally on mutual interest and communication.
Friday morning, 3 October 2017, over coffee at the Café Lang in Zurich.