/Susanne Schwieter/

Susanne is a conceptual artist based in Berlin. Her work includes painting and sculpture, as well as multimedia installations. She focus on transforming images whereby the blending of analogue and digital techniques plays a special role in her compositions. Volatility, movement, morphing and gestures are key elements.

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“The most exciting moment in the theater is when, at the start of a performance, the house lights are dimmed and the murmurs of the audience ebb, leaving behind a promise lingering in the air. This is a moment of immense and intense energy, pregnant with yearning and movement. It is this that motivates me in my work.

Behind the works

/neɪm/

Nice to meet you, Susanne! As we said to /neɪm/ readers, your work includes different medias, such as paintings, sculptures and multimedia installations. How you decide what type of work you will work on?

/Susanne/

Actually one work evolves very natural from the previous one. With the media and materiality I am very playful, here form follows function and I´m open to everything. Since I´m interested in the dialogue between paintings and sculptures, I consider the different medias more as different chapters of a play where a character repeatedly appears.

Can you tell us about your creative process, how projects starts & finishes?

I usually start with sketching and writing up to a point where theme and form become clear. For the sculptures I begin with little cardboard sketch models at that point, more as stage designers work – this is still a leftover of my former profession as stage designer for theaters. I still love to work like that because it´s a playful and fast method to push the process concerning all questions of material, form, structure and size.

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For paintings and prints I enter a process between computer work and painting in the following. Usually I work on 4-5 paintings simultaneously as I work in series. I like to move around when I´m painting and I like it when painting becomes a physical act, so I tend to large format paintings. The painted artwork is photographed, and in so doing, finds its way back into the digital realm. In this way, my artistic pursuits involve a continuous exploration of pictures of pictures of pictures, with one generation of imagery being passed on to the next. The blending of digital and analogue techniques is an important and integral part of my methodology. In the digital manipulation of the imagery, I love the beauty of coincidence, of equivocal authorship and I harness the possibility for incalculable errors to be thrown up by Google and Photoshop.
The sculptural works also embody the same procedural intent to distill transformation. Gestures solidify into form. Often I combine structural elements, usually in metal, with objects whose material nature already conveys a blend of movement and haptic feeling – such as milk being poured, or elements familiar from the architecture of so-called spatial development, such as a handrail or curtain.

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Do you do all of this by yourself?

Most craft work I do on my own, but some specials and powder coating I am outsourcing. It has to feel natural and right for me so that the work can find a balance somewhere between precision and looseness.

But you work independently, right?

Yes!

Do you have regular agenda & how far you allow yourself to plan ahead?

 

I have two kids, so yes, I have a regular agenda ;). I plan ahead quite precisely in periods of 3-4 months around the upcoming shows.

What is the most challenging part about being an artist for you?

To keep the balance between raising kids and focusing on the art world circus.

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When it comes to your creative process, what subjects/names/themes feed your inspiration?

Key element is always transformation in relation to our body. I assume that the human body is constantly exposed to high demands in the public space. It wrestles for self-assertion, and in so doing, serves as both a picture and projection screen, onto which are manifested expectations and imaginings of every sort. What is and what seems to be melt seamlessly into one another. The language with and about the human body is a story of representation, whereby reality appears to be relative. It interests me how language becomes symbol, and how far meaning is shifted as a result, as well as where identity begins. So all works show up in a shifted form and refer to a former condition and identity. For example my Cruiser prints, they refer to marble. Marble was a classic material for statuary and here it shows up morphed and two-dimensional, actually as some sort of memory.

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How is your personality reflected in your work?

Influenced by my long-time work as a stage designer, what I constantly seek is to instill in the observer a sense of possibility, an awareness of the potential for something to happen. The most exciting moment in the theater is when, at the start of a performance, the house lights are dimmed and the murmurs of the audience ebb, leaving behind a promise lingering in the air. This is a moment of immense and intense energy, pregnant with yearning and movement. It is this that motivates me in my work. It´s my aim to explore and conjure up this moment in my work, and by so doing, to connect on a very personal and individual level with the observer of the piece.

Of your entire collection, which project/object is your personal favorite?

It would be probably the Cruiser series.

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The Cruisers are four vertical format digital prints on canvas. Like banners or flags used for outdoor advertising, they hang freely, fixed at the top. Movement and flow of amorphous forms reveal themselves in the print through progression, repetition and fade-out. Form is shifted beyond the picture’s edge.

What’s the idea behind The Cruiser series?

The Cruiser series explores the prerequisites of transformation and follow a lengthy process of abstraction.
All prints can thus be traced back to the same raw data, namely a single Google picture of veined marble, which I have manipulated to the point where it’s almost completely unrecognisable – what remains is the original digital material. The flowing forms are bearers of time, traces of a transformation. In this sense, the four Cruisers are, quite literally, materially identical, lined up in a loop.
It´s about marble, that was thought to be a sculpture that transformed into a code. It´s about memory.
I made now a special limited edition as Fine Art Prints on Hahnemühle Photorag, which I would love to showcase here!

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What other interests do you have outside of art?

I am crazy about contemporary dance. I find, for example, William Forsythe or Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui very inspiring. I am captured by the energy and power of the volatile moments of dance.

Career

Did you always know what career you would like to have? How and when did the idea of creating artworks take shape?

 

It was always drawing. I grew up in a creative environment, my mother was a ceramist. There are a lot of art historians and also some artists in my family which always pushed me to create and inspired me. When it came to study, I couldn´t decide between stage design and art, so I studied at Kunstakademie Düsseldorf with Kneidl (stage design) and Rinke (sculpture). At the end I started as stage designer and worked for more than 10 years at var. renowned theaters. Later, around 2015, as a successful stage designer, I consistently turned to the visual arts.

Did it take long to get your first 3 payments since you turned to visual arts? How that happened?

After turning to visual arts it took me 2-3 years to reinvent and position myself, then it started slowly. First friends and family, then also some collectors found their way in my studio. It helped a lot that we have a really fantastic huge studio space where open studio days for public take place regularly.

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What about media & social media? How do they affect your career?

 

I am really grateful for tools such as Instagram, you have the possibility to showcase your work to a big audience and to increase your recognition fast on a non-hierarchical level. It´s fun and brought me many exciting contacts so far.

Did you have unpaid projects/collaborations? Do you think it’s worth to have unpaid projects?

If the projects are interesting and of high quality it´s always worth it – because at the beginning as well as spaces or curators as other artists don´t have much money, which has nothing to do with their quality.
I think there we have to dare more. I did it several times, as stage designer and as artist, and was never disappointed.

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What would be the best lessons you had learn in your professional road so far?

Always believe in yourself, do not stop learning.

What are your top 3 best resources that helped you grow with your career?

I am still at the beginning of my career, so I am still gathering experience. What I can recommend is gyst (getting your shit together), providing resources, technology and solutions created by artists for artists, they support arts professionals with an integrated program of software, services and information. I use the software for “my shit” and it´s really good.
Further, I looked for professional support from an art coach. The exchange helped and helps a lot to go on determined and professionally and I would recommend it to everyone who starts.
As top 3 I would recommend a book, which I really appreciate: How to Do Things with Art by Dorothea von Hantelmann about the question of art’s relevance to society (published by JRP Editions SA).

How you combine creative work with business handling, PR, marketing, accounting etc.?

 

So far I am not too good with that – I underestimated marketing for a long time, now I begin to find my own way here. One day a week you have to plan for it, as artist you have to develop entrepreneurial spirit.

What best advice for those who seeks to be in your profession you could give?

Do residencies, look for exchange, let grow your network.

Speaking of growing, where do you want to go with your career next? Are there something you really dream of doing?

I want to do good exhibitions, work with interesting colleagues and want to develop my own artistic position through this. I really dream of bigger spaces, as my works tend to be big and extend to large-scale displays. And, of course, I want to be successful on all levels.

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How many % of education, skills, hard work, contacts & luck you would put into a formula of a successful career in your field?

I think, contacts and luck are the key, but without at least 75 percent of skills, talent, education and hard work you won´t succeed.

You said traveling is important for you as a person. How did you chose your location?

I live in Berlin, because my husband works here and my kids are settled in school here. It´s an inspiring city and because many artists are living here, as well as there are many good shows to see. So you can have a high quality exchange, which I consider the most important thing as artist – as not to stand still!

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Let’s imagine! If you weren’t in your profession, what would you do & where would you live? Why?

I think I would be a camera operator, working with light is something fascinating. Since I have a nomadic soul, traveling is important, but I could live nearly everywhere as long as my family is with me and people around are inspiring.

That’s for sure, indeed! Susanne, how much, you think, location infects work & career for artists in general?

Fortunately these days the whole world is getting closer because of the internet and it doesn´t really matter where you come from or where you live.

Yes, if your work isn’t strictly located, you can live anywhere these days. Speaking of work, what projects you work on at the moment?

Currently I am finishing a series of sculptures, which I call “tongues” – they are large format bended and powdercoated aluminum sheets.

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The tongues named NI, LN, M or SHH are positions of the tongue in the process of speech and reflect the circulation of speech and form. The beauty of the repeated attempt to capture volatility, as well as the sketch of emotional connections, which are inscribed in a surface.

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Further I am preparing two upcoming shows in spring: a group project in Berlin and a solo in Chiavari, Italy. The latter is a project with three emerging architects – they expanded their showroom for art, I´m really looking forward to that. Also, I will be part of the Charlottenborg Spring Exhibition 2020 in Denmark from 2 Feb to 8 Mar 2020.

That’s super! The works you create, Susanne, are they for exhibition purposes or they available for sale too?

They are all also for sale. I love the idea that the works are scattered all around the world.

And I really hope they will. How may our readers, interested in purchasing your work or working with you, can contact you?

Visit my site and moreover I am always pleased to receive guests for a studio visit, just contact me.

Lovely. It was a pleasure to hear your inspiring story. Thanks for sharing it with us, Susanne!

January 21
/
2020

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