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Interview Stefan Brüggemann
Stefan Brüggemann was born in 1975 in Mexico City; he currently lives and works between Mexico City, London, and Ibiza. He has exhibited individually, to name a few, at: Hauser & Wirth, Zurich, and Hauser & Wirth New York (2017), Centro Galego de Arte Contemporánea, A Coruña, Spain (2016); Fundació Gaspar, Barcelona, Spain (2016); Parra & Romero, Ibiza, Spain (2014). And he has participated in fairs such as: Frieze New York 2018, ARCOmadrid 2018, Art Basel Miami Beach 17.
What did you want to be when you were little?
Well, I always wanted to be an artist. At the age of 14, I had already signed a painting and like those who sign a pact with the devil, my destiny was to be an artist whatever happens. And it’s okay because it’s hard for me to work in a team, being an artist is lonelier, you make your own decisions, and you have to deal with fewer people and make fewer concessions. Nobody tells you whether it has to be bigger or smaller. You have more independence, but you pay for it in another way...
Do you have a project related to Ibiza?
It just so happens I do, for a new roundabout that they have made, I have proposed a pyramid made with Ibiza stone and bathed in gold leaf. I am waiting for approval, let’s see what happens. I would love to have a work of mine here, since it is going to be one of my places of residence.
Can you tell us anything else?
I am establishing myself in Ibiza and making a studio house with a botanical garden and a residence for writers because I plan to spend more time here and that is why I wanted to do a public work in Ibiza which is where I am going to be. And I started to think, and the fact is the island is very well known for its light and I see stone everywhere just like the pine trees. So, I use Stone from Ibiza and cover it with gold leaf that, in addition to reflecting the light, enhances the characteristics of the stone.
A dialogue between stone and light. A basic system of construction that together makes sense only in Ibiza. I have proposed that it be 10 meters high and 5 meters on each side, but it is still pending approval… It is called the Pyramid of Light.
Why Ibiza? And London and Mexico?
I started coming to Ibiza a couple of years ago because I was invited by a group of Friends and because it was close to London… It was something that had to happen, in an organic way I wanted to spend more time in Ibiza. I also like it because it has a long cultural history of artists, architects, writers... And many different ways of thinking, it has many nuances: students, international, older people... I think there is a lot of contrast, that it is more heterogeneous, I would say, than Majorca and Menorca.
I was born in Mexico and London was a way to get out of Mexico because thanks to the fact that I am half German, half Mexican, it also made entering easier. Also, what I loved about London was its musical culture that originated in the 70s and 80s like Joy Division, the Sex Pistols... I always had a fascination with that and that’s why I decided to go to London, more than for art, it was more for the music and the counterculture. I met Malcolm McLaren, who started the punk movement, and he became my mentor. And of course, contemporary art features very prominently in Europe.
So, music affects you when it’s time to create?
Yes, in an unconscious way, it does. It’s not that I draw on it directly, but it does come out in one way or another.
In addition to music, what inspires you?
Literature, cinema, television, the news... Everything. I consider myself to be a sponge that absorbs whatever is around it and then turns it into something.
What project are you most proud of?
It’s complicated, all of them in some way. Every time you do an exhibition or a piece it tells you what you are going to do next; in the end, it is a constellation, an organism that helps you to understand where you should not go while others consolidate ideas, or with others you open spaces for experimentation which end up in something more solid. It is difficult, which is what the history of art will say. On your own, you don’t have such objectivity, so it is better that time, or a third party says.
How would you like to see yourself in Wikipedia?
It is very difficult to classify oneself, but I think that I would describe what I do as pop minimalism. I would like that, although I always say that I am a conceptual artist and that everyone draws their own conclusions. The success of my work is that it is a generator of doubts, not that it gives solutions, or conclusions, or moralistic messages, rather that it generates doubt because, for me, when you have doubts, the viewer is free to think. Nor do I care if it is a superficial question, that it looks pretty. I prefer that they say, what is this? To produce doubts, without indicating what they are or should be.
What kind of doubts?
All kinds, from existential ones to very basic ones such as is this art? There is already a connection there.
And do you create the works with the aim of producing those doubts?
At times, I have my point of view, obviously, but at the moment that I am getting the work across, they can also be the same doubts or doubts that I want to set myself. More than reaching a conclusion, authoritarian works annoy me, as do works that accuse by saying that those are the bad ones. They are like the classroom bully.
With which artist would you like to have dinner?
I think with Bruce Nauman, an American artist who makes videos and does installations; I don’t know if he would talk a lot, but he intrigues me. The fact is that I have already met almost everyone that I would have liked to meet.
So, your best dinner?
Well, for example, of my heroes who is not necessarily an artist, well, yes, he is, there is Iggy Pop. As I use a lot of language in my work, I wanted to do a piece that was sound, and I wanted to give it that sound element. I always thought about what voice I wanted and the first one I fell for was Iggy Pop and, through a curator, I got to know him, he got to know my work and immediately understood it and he told me, let’s do it. So, he did a reading of all my written works that we recorded and so I have a spoken record of my work. So, with one of my heroes I not only managed to go to dinner, but also to produce a piece of art.
What would you change in the art world?
I would change everything but because that is the attitude that one must have when producing a work of art; you are transforming, so not changing anything would mean not making art. It is not that one disagrees with everything and that nothing seems good to you, no, rather it is not that you change it, it is that you transform it. To change means that you do not agree while to transform it is to give it another twist or to take it from here to there.Read more Close