I had spent the entire day on a ship to get to Stockholm.
So here I was, in one of the most beautiful cities of Europe. Hip and cool, a sunny weekend. Maybe bad luck or bad timing, but there was noone to be found for the domino-project.
Maybe they were at the royal wedding or went to Berlin for the weekend, but I was left with nothing but blisters on my feet and a bunch of unreplied mails.
Well, what to do? I had to do a domino with myself.
Although I couldn’t be my own interview-partner or assistant, I took it as a chance to try out how it feels like, to create something in one afternoon, based on someone elses idea.
So I bought a one day metro-ticket for Stockholm, put my pencil case and the tape-artwork of Carolin Koss from Helsinki into my backpack and set out for a trip through the city.
“I was closer to my dream than ever before and I was never so far away from it.”
Besides my creative task, I tried to ask myself the questions, I had addressed to all the artists, designers, musicians and poets, I had met on the way. I felt like it always circled around this one big question: What does it mean to be an artist? Do you consider yourself as an artist? And how does it work for you? How do you manage with being an artist, financially, mentally, generally?
When I was small, there was no doubt that I would become a painter or a writer one day. Or both. My teachers in school supported me, for family and friends I was the creative one. My father always used to say that Van Gogh never sold a single painting while he was alive, probably to comfort me. Anyway I didn’t care about success. All I cared about was the bliss that I got from drawing and painting. As most of kids do.
When I became older, in my early twenties I was kind of ready to enter the real world and finally become that artist, everybody promised me I would be one day. I moved to Berlin, expecting great things. I was closer to my dream than ever before and I was never so far away from it.
Instead of flying to me, things got really hard. I didn’t like the stuff I produced anymore. The pressure on me got so big that painting became the thing I hated the most. Every try to create, felt like a fail. I compared myself to others, who in my eyes seemed to be more talented and more productive and more successful and interesting. I started to believe in the genius-myth, that being an artist is something you have to be completely sure about. People say, when you are in love, you don’t doubt it. When you are an artist, you don’t doubt it either, you just are. You can’t live without creating. I tried to understand why on one hand I wanted something so badly, that at the same time just made me feel so sad and incompetent.
I decided not to be an artist and relieve myself from the pressure and the failing.
So, after studying art history and taking art classes, after renting an atelier to feel more real, after years of struggling with my lack of motivation, many tries of kicking my ass to finally get up and do something really good, and finally after my rejection at art university, I gave it up. I decided not to be an artist and relieve myself from the pressure and the failing.
Sad news to all the people that believed in me, but a very important step for me to emancipate from societies’ ideals and pressure.
In the end my urge to create never died. But without the pressure I could finally do things again without disliking them already from the very first moment. For me that is an essential moment in my idea of art education, which I started to study in 2012 at Universität Leipzig. It doesn’t matter how good or bad you think you are, or how society thinks about your work, or universities, or curators or your friends. Creating with your mind and hands, means expressing yourself, outputting ideas, developing thoughts, using a language that can express things in different and versatile ways and can lead to unexpected awareness.
No matter on which level of age, experience or public recognition the people were, that I met for the domino project, I saw them equally in the process of creating. One of the things I like about the domino project is, that it allows you to play. From the beginning you know there will be only couple of hours, almost impossible to create something big and impressive. The ideas had to be small and simple. To some, it was hard to let go their perfectionist aspiration.
For me it was motivating, getting rid of the pressure. I felt about like a game. I would take my camera and stroll around the city and experiment with the things I’d find and the ideas I’d get.
But first of all I had to find a place to work. As if it was made just for me, I found the “Coffice” in Stockholms scene-district Södermalm.
A large café with several light rooms, that could be used for having a coffee with friends, or as a work space. They are provided with a coffe- and sandwich bar, free wifi, big desks, a common kitchen, computers and printers. You can just sit down and start to work or rent them for groups also.
Though I liked all the artworks I had collected on my trip so far, I noticed that I felt particularly attracted to the objects. Caros tape-art-piece was put on thick foam board, which gave it more the character of an object, than a picture. I liked to hold it in my hands, lift it and move it around. The stripes of black, white and sparkling green tape moved in front of my eyes like laser beams. I felt like they were connecting something which each other. What could that be, I wondered. Suddenly the association with street maps popped up in my mind.
“For I didn’t know where to go, I decided to ask my good old friend, the coincidence.”
I decided to create a stencil out of the piece. The lines of the tape would form a black grid. I cut out the gaps in-between and fill them with a different content. I imagined that I could experiment with the stencil, hold it in front of different backgrounds and just try out where it would lead me to.
I copied the pattern to a cardboard, cut out the gaps and then painted it black. Now I had a stencil, looking like a window, structuring the world behind it into little triangular pieces. Like a mosaic, I guessed.
I wanted to see how different places of the city would look like when being seen through my new window. Maybe I would discover new, interesting details, I wouldn’t have seen before. For I didn’t know where to go, I decided to ask my good old friend, the coincidence.
I put the stencil on a city map of Stockholm and chose five metro-stations, that were framed by the windows of the stencil: Radhuset, Slussen, Kungsträdgården, Gamla Stan and Zinkensdamm. I started with Zinkensdamm and looked for something that I could integrate in the work. I got out of the metro and took a little walk in the area. The first thing I found was a wall, covered with graffiti. I felt it would be a goud background for my pattern, so I took a picture, holding the frame in front of it. Also appealing were the glazed tiles inside the metro stations. I continued with each station on my list, always taking a picture of a wall outside and of a stone or tile-wall inside the station. I continued by putting the walls in two categories: First: they had to fit in the mosaic-idea. Second: they kind of had to represent the area. For Zinkensdamm, an urban residency area, I chose the graffiti wall. For Gamla Stan, the touristy old town, I chose a wooden wall with old fashioned event-posters. Slussen, a modern and hip area was represented by the turquoise tiles. Turquois to me is a color of fashion and the tiles on the wall made a clean and graphic picture. For the Radhuset I chose an ordinary classic brick wall and for Kungsträdgården, I picked the moss-covered nature-stone-wall in the underground.
Later I edited the photos and combined them in a digital collage.
Even though the work I added to the project was simple, it took a whole day to realize it. I encouraged myself to get up, get outside and move through the city, to observe my surrounding, search for plane backgrounds, that were evenly patterned and connect them with each other. The result: a collage of coincidently chosen places, fragments of walls, put together in one mosaic.
With my “Tunnelbana Mosaik” I had connected with the city differently and felt like I could take a piece of it with me, even though I hadn’t met a local artist.
The last metro station that I visited that day, was the central station. While sitting in front of it, having a last glance at the city, I finally met a local artist, who recognized me smiling about a seagull resting on the head of a statue. He asked me to draw something into his sketchbook. I enjoyed being the artist myself for one day, so I drew a picture of a bird shitting on someones head and then got on the train to Copenhagen.