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Artists in Residence

 Ivan Moudov (born 1975 in Sofia, lives and works in Sofia) is the first foreign artist participating in the newly created guest scholarship in the Binz39 Foundation studios. Moudov is an experienced artist in residence and has spent about half of his time abroad since his first stay in Lyon 2003. Last year he was at Schloss Solitude, and before that in Vienna and Paris. On the occasion of his six months residency in Zurich, kunstbulletin presents him in the Gastlabor column.

Ivan Moudov – cleaning windows for students

Ivan Moudov re-enacts his work, Binz39 Foundation, Zürich, 2009.

Kielmayer: Your local reference is obvious: you collect tap water in the places where you're staying and you create a different bottle for it each time.

Moudov: There's a theory that says tap water works like a hard disk, it absorbs all the information from the environment and conserves it.

Kielmayer: Guest artists are often influenced by the place and its characteristics. Cultural differences especially emerge so much stronger for them and they recognise features that local people don't even notice. Have you noticed anything that's typical for Switzerland?

Moudov: The Swiss cross. It works almost as a national branding. Additionally I'm fascinated by the Swiss rubbish disposal system. I think a service charge included in the price of rubbish sacks is great. There's nothing similar in Bulgaria, and nobody cares how much rubbish is being produced.

Kielmayer: I'm not sure whether the people here are producing less rubbish as a result. We all stuff the expensive rubbish bags so full that they almost break. My own always bursts, but I reckon that the producers of these bags make them intentionally weaker so that we stop stuffing them like that.

Moudov: Because of the fees, there are certainly lots of people who throw their rubbish into public bins or somewhere else. In the context of a project here, I gave normal bin bags to a selection of people. I took the filled bags to Germany and disposed of them in public bins, for example at motorway service areas.

Kielmayer: Is that legal?

Moudov: There's nothing to suggest it isn't legal, anyway. Many of my projects play with the fine line between legality and illegality. But it's also about questions of globalisation and the international (rubbish) trade. I receive 10 Swiss francs for every rubbish bag I dispose of. With the money I will buy a piece of work from a Swiss artist. I've spotted a piece by Roland Roos. He repairs different things in public spaces without being asked, sometimes they are also completely useless, pointless things.

Kielmayer: What projects are you working on at the moment?

Moudov: The ZHdK (Zürich University of the Arts) invited me as a tutor for a workshop. I offered to clean windows for them because in my opinion I'm no good as a teacher. Now I receive a tutor's salary for cleaning the windows of the masterclasses. I ensure that the students see more, which in my opinion is completely in tune with my teaching assignment.

Kielmayer: Some guest artists above all want to get to know gallerists, curators and collectors. Do you actively network?

Moudov: Networking is a natural part of being an artist. I go to openings, exhibitions and meet people, but I don't promote myself at all. During my first residency in a foreign country, I was still handing round my portfolio, but I soon noticed that this wasn't welcomed and was rather embarrassing.

Kielmayer: It must be difficult to survive in Bulgaria as a contemporary artist, especially if one's work is as performative and process orientated as yours.

Moudov: That's true, you can hardly survive as a teacher at an art school, your best chance is in style, design or advertising. In the '90s there was still support from Pro Helvetia or the Soros Foundation, but when Bulgaria became a member of the EU, those moved to poorer, developing countries. Hardly any money comes from the EU and all of it is extremely bureaucratic and corrupt.

Kielmayer: Do you know any artists who benefitted from the boom of the big Balkan exhibition at the turn of the millenium? The interest at that point had many thinking that we were part of the global art family, before one realised that this family had already moved on.

Moudov: Fortunately I was part of the hype at the time and represented in big exhibitions. So I could become part of this family within a short, euphoric time.

Kielmayer: There's a tradition in middle European countries of supporting contemporary art, even on a local level.

Moudov: Switzerland has a particularly outstanding market. This is completely different in Bulgaria, we don't even have a museum for contemporary art. Actually, the young artists should build a national, working art scene, but how is that supposed to work if there is no market and there are no collectors or museums? You can't expect politicians who only provided 3000 € for the official contribution to the Venice Biennale to help you.

Kielmayer: On the other hand, some production factors in Switzerland are so much harder. Many guest artists who come here miscalculate them and are often disappointed because everything costs a fortune, nobody has time, and only three people come to the guest artist's presentation.

Moudov: I was also shocked by this during my first residency in a foreign country, because in Bulgaria guests have a certain significance, and one takes care of them lovingly. I've got used to the fact that this is different in many countries. Equally one has to admit that truly exciting work will get recognition also in Switzerland.

Ivan Moudov, Binz39, Zürich, 5.2.-6.3.2010

This interview is published with the support of the Swiss cultural foundation Pro Helvetia Moving Words for the Swiss advancement of translation.

Translation: Paul Harper

Deutsche Version


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Ausgabe 1/2  2010
Autor/in Oliver Kielmayer
Künstler/in Ivan Moudov
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