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Artists in Residence

 The Zürich Binz39 foundation in cooperation with the Zug foundation Landis & Gyr offers a six-month residency for artists from eastern Europe next to the studios for Swiss artists. Nino Sekhniashvili (born 1979) from Georgia is the current artist-in-residence, following artists from the Ukraine, Bulgaria and Armenia. Also in the next few years there will be a greater emphasis placed on the exchange with Georgia.

Nino Sekhniashvili - With James Joyce to the Surfboard

Nino Sekhniashvili at BINZ39, Zürich, 2011. Photo: Cat Tuong Nguyen

Morgenthaler: Nino, your stay in Binz39 is already your fourth foreign residency. How does Binz39 differ from the other residencies?

Sekhniashvili: When I lived in Georgia I moved around a lot. For my work it's important that I don't get too comfortable in one place. That's why I have applied intensively for foreign residencies, although it didn't really matter to me where I went. The residency in the Office for Contemporary Art in Oslo was comparatively free, while in Schloss Solitude in Stuttgart I had a stronger feeling of being part of an institution. In Vienna on the other hand I was just given money to spend, and I had to organise everything myself.

Morgenthaler: And in Zürich?

Sekhniashvili: What is special here is the high density of galleries and art institutions. Here you can gather a lot of information. One can compare how others work. I can also figure out from this what my place in the art world could be. How I could fit into this system. You can look at yourself with new eyes and evaluate yourself. And you have time to reflect on all these impressions.

Morgenthaler: One can easily find it difficult to cope with this vast amount of choice.

Sekhniashvili: That's right. That can lead to one thinking that everything has already been done anyway. That you feel like an artisan, who literally does handicrafts. Thus operating on a lower level than the others.

Morgenthaler: And how far do the working conditions here in Zürich differ from those in Georgia?

Sekhniashvili: Many things in Georgia are in their infancy. For example there aren't any institutions that bring together artists who work conceptually. Everybody works on their own, and a true collaboration can only take place slowly. But my generation can change a lot.

Morgenthaler: Binz39 is a kind of partnership, with direct exchanges between artists...

Sekhniashvili: Right, and because of the fact that exhibitions also take place in the building, it's perhaps the first time that I've seen the same exhibition thirty times.

Morgenthaler: Zürich has no access to the sea, yet still you made a copy of a surfboard out of styrofoam in your studio.

Sekhniashvili: I like the form of the object very much. And furthermore working on the the board helps me to think, and maybe it's never supposed to be exhibited. While doing manual work I can concentrate very well.

Morgenthaler: Some of the eastern European artists of Binz39 live in Zug, in the Landis & Gyr apartments. Did an exchange happen there as well?

Sekhniashvili: The interesting thing about these apartments is that the other residencies aren't necessarily visual artists, but also writers for example. I'm really interested in how they work. For the video 'Charlotte' from 2006, I used the story of a woman who killed herself to provide inspiration for her lover, a writer. The suicide didn't turn out as planned, which is both tragic and funny at the same time. I heard a similar story not long ago at the Zürich James Joyce Foundation by the way.

Morgenthaler: Do you visit the weekly 'Ulysses' and 'Finnegans Wake' meetings?

Sekhniashvili: If I can, yes. The good thing about these meetings is that everyone is in my situation. Just as I inch forward in German as a foreign language, so they go through the texts word by word. For 'Finnegans Wake' the group needs about ten years.

Morgenthaler: So you can almost certainly help with your Georgian and Russian knowledge...

Sekhniashvili: I've read 'Ulysses' in Georgian and Russian, and noticed that both times it was a completely different book.

Morgenthaler: And what was the story told in the seminar?

Sekhniashvili: I'd rather explain this in a video that will come out of it. I can tell you this much: it will also be about a paranoid writer.

'Gruppe BINZ39 - 2011/2012', group exhibition with artists-in-residence, 09.03 - 14.04. Stiftung Binz39, Zürich

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  2012
Institutionen Binz 39 [Zürich/Schweiz]
Autor/in Daniel Morgenthaler
Künstler/in Nino Sekhniashvili
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