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Artists in Residence

 The international exchange and studio programme for the Basel region (iaab) offered the Finnish guest artist Kasper Muttonen (born 1979, Lappeenranta) the possibility of spending three further months in Freiburg, following a three month studio stay in Basel. In May his fascinating architectural sculptures were on show in the group show ‘Solo Show' in the Basle iaab Project Room basement, and in June Muttonen set up his solo show at the Freiburger T66 culture factory.

Kasper Muttonen - A residency studio is a little bit like a Utopian place

Kasper Muttonen in front of the iaab Project Room in Basel, 2013. Photo: Cat Tuong Nguyen

Ziegler: Why did you apply for Basel?

Muttonen: In 1999 I came to Basel with my art school. We went on a Giacometti journey, visiting St. Moritz, Zürich and Basel. It was spring and it was wonderful.

Ziegler: In 2008 you were a guest artist in Paris. How did you experience Basel and Freiburg in comparison?

Muttonen: The Cité des Arts is a big studio building. There's no personal service there and you have to pay rent. Here, as well as getting free accommodation I also receive money every month. Because you never bring enough tools and materials with you from home, you have to go out and buy things. It takes a lot of energy. In Basel and Freiburg you have a lot of support. They know where you can get things, even unusual things, and go there by car. Before me for example an artist needed a crossbow. Furthermore both the exhibition opportunities were organised for me.

Ziegler: How was it working with the other artists for the ‘Solo Show'?

Muttonen: It was interesting to immediately come into contact with artists from the place. The concept was that everyone developed their own contribution as though they were exhibiting alone. The installation process naturally created conflicts, you had to compromise, deploying separate plastic canvases. For the first time I placed a work in the air and built a special plinth.

Ziegler: What are the working conditions like compared with Helsinki?

Muttonen: In Finland I have to travel 16 km to get to my studio. I usually go by bike, so I have to pay attention to the weather. Here I can focus a lot more on my work. A residency studio is a little bit like a Utopian place. You're not distracted by your own culture and language. That's very good, because your own language can have an affect like noise, because you can understand everything, everywhere: people talking, information from the media, TV...

Ziegler: What do you especially like here?

Muttonen: In Helsinki there is very little in the way of the original building fabric left, because a lot of the old wooden buildings were replaced with modern, functional buildings in the fifties and sixties. In Basel one gets the feeling of a longer history. I like that a lot. I simply go out and look at different places, without knowing anything about them. It's enough for me to see and to feel them, to look at them repeatedly, intensively. Furthermore I find the contemporary architecture in Basel very interesting. My favourite building is the SBB signal control centre designed by Herzog & De Meuron. It's like a sculpture, not spectacular or ‘wow!' architecture, which appears more and more, but intellectual.

Ziegler: Is the light in Finland different?

Muttonen: Yes, there's more contrast and it's brighter. In Basel I was astonished that it's so dark at night you can see the stars. Over Helsinki the atmosphere is very reddish. We have too many artificial lights, light pollution. With its low-rise buildings Basel at night seems very medieval. And the Morgestraich (beginning of carnival) was super. As everything became completely dark, I could see Orion at the end of the street in the city centre. It was higher than in Finland. Also the angle towards the moon is different. One notices that one is standing at a different position on the planet.

Ziegler: Has the change of place influenced your work?

Muttonen: At the beginning it was somehow confusing. In Finland everyone knew my work, here I had to talk about it a lot, open myself up. I think it's good to break with one's habits, to let in new ideas. So I began to make smaller work, it was more practical. Furthermore, I've been using new materials: black iron filings, grey and rusty steel powder. I use it as pigment, mixed with ink, oil or gloss and apply it with a paint brush. Then it looks like steel plate. I like this illusion, especially as at the same time it's real material. Black iron is the first black colour I've used. Before that I seldom used black. Black is emotionally difficult. I like colours a lot and I like using materials. I especially like to work with my favourite material, concrete. Moreover, in Freiburg I discovered perforated aluminium bars. If you turn them lengthways, and attach more next to each other, it creates an interesting structure. In the Basel exhibition I also used aluminium, but I made the holes myself.

Ziegler: What are you going to show at the T66 culture factory?

Muttonen: I will probably show the five pieces from the basement and one or two new works with turned aluminium bars. I've already made some small construction models. I'll have to see what becomes of them.

Ziegler: Your work often has an inner and an outer structure.

Muttonen: Yes, this work here needs a clear interior form, so that it can focus itself. Currently this is out of wood and has to be white or coloured so that it's clearer. I'll make that later. I'd like to use colour, so that it's light, as if it were a landscape in the centre of an urban area. As if leaves on trees were casting light and shadow. I like nature, but my work is rather artificial, cultural sphere. I transfer natural space to architectural abstraction.

Bis: 30.06.2013

Midsummernightsparty on June 21th, 10 pm with DJ Phlanderz, as part of the first Oberrhein Photography Biennial

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 6  2013
Institutionen Kulturwerk T66 [Freiburg/B/Deutschland]
Autor/in Yvonne Ziegler
Autor/in Kasper Muttonen
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