Interview by Angel Russell
Edited by Spencer Thurlow
Where are you located/from?
I was born in Sofia, Bulgaria and grew up in Berlin, Germany from age four. I’m Armenian-Bulgarian, but my mother grew up in Germany too and German is my native language.
How does your location effect your creativity?
That I ask myself a lot. What if I wasn’t here? Fact is, in my head I’ve always/partially lived someplace else. For as long as I can think, I wanted to emigrate to the USA. I was and still am obsessed with America, stemming maybe from an early childhood tale I was told about my absent father staying “in America” (not particularly true). I grew up with Michael Jackson and Elvis music, Carl Barks comics, and spoke fantasy English with my mom until I finally had English classes in elementary.
I owe a lot of my imaginative world to my country-obsessions with Victorian England and Japan, too. Berlin is by far the best place in Germany to live and work if one likes big cities, but my biggest goal is to move out of the country, carry my art and career in a low-fi way throughout the world and settle in California, or Louisiana, and set up a second place to live in Tokyo, oh and a third one in Buenos Aires, maybe.
How do you begin creating a piece?
Sometimes by day(or night) dreaming, but mostly I’ll think about something interesting, a form or a subject or a memory, a listen, a feeling, a funny…yes, it gets cryptic before it becomes clear.
After I have pondered the emerging object in question for hours, days, or weeks I’ll start to make a lot of sketches and try to figure out how it will work out. Often there are problems that I’ll have to solve one by one. I’ll probably research online where to get certain materials. I order a lot online, and go out to my different material suppliers as well. I always work on up to 10 things simultaneously, so one object may take a year or just one month. It depends.
Often, right before the idea has become an actual idea there is a
phase where everything is hazy and I think about the first tender idea
only occasionally and deliberately
unfocused, as if it would vanish once I stare it in the eye too early.
Do you keep a large collection of items to create your pieces? Do you go out and find things?
I have a lot of basic stuff like hinges and joints organized in boxes and other containers and I keep my stock always high on certain items and tools. I always have plywood, a huge pile of old clockwork bits and pieces, vintage screws and nails, miniature screws and nails, ring screws… I found my absolute ideal of an overcrowded but still and neatly organized and stylish workspace many years ago on page 139 in the modern classic Tokyo: A certain style, a little photo compendium of Tokyo apartments. On the other hand I am constantly afraid of a fire or a plane crashing on our house so I’d rather have less stuff and live out of a suitcase. But with my collections of books, clothes and work material that’s currently not possible.
Do your pieces exist as a set or are they purely independent sparks of imagination?
I am pretty sure every maker’s body of work is considered as a whole, no? Things I don’t consider good anymore I throw away or reuse parts of, so everything I discard simply doesn’t belong to the whole anymore. The more of my work I make visible to (future) audiences, the more you will see a loose coherence among my individual works, I guess. I just try to follow through my own agenda of good art against my own inner mediocrity and laziness.
Can you give us a brief description of your creative past and present?
Throughout my early childhood and teens there was a string of mostly creative career fantasies from fashion designer to Nintendo engineer to saddle maker and writer. I also went through a failur-y phase of making collages and ugly paintings when I was 16 (I’m 25 now), after which I wanted to study Japanese and film studies. A few years ago though I finally settled for Art. Before, I thought I couldn’t take the freedom of creating anything I wanted without restrictions, but ever since that decision, (with which I had cut myself off from any other scholarly options all at once) I found that this is exactly what I need and my imagination became a never-ending well of new creations. I feel like I don’t have enough time and physical energy to fulfill everything on my to-do list but this is negative make-believe. I am very grateful for everything going on in my head (but I do hope to get prescribed things to help me sleep less and work more!) and I try to get better at expressing it through my work.
Can you explain your speaker box project and why you selected the piece that plays inside?
Music Box 1 and 2 were the original idea that once bore the name Head Box. Back
then, the original sketches for the Head Box incorporated music but
I decided to go with the pure form around the head without electronic matters complicating it. Years later I revisited old sketches and liked the idea of the muffled sound of beautiful music (without sticking your head in styrofoamed wood) and thus the Music Boxes were born.
The original idea was of a far away place that you cannot enter, that is only accessible through stillness and the dark endless space, an outer space in your head. The Head Box is definitely the superior execution of this idea, but the Music Boxes can play music, hey! Well, we’ll see how it looks once they’re completed (should I install a lamp inside the dark one?) and once I actually use them to play music. I am still undecided with which music pieces they’ll go best. I once listened to the short Charles Ives piece “The unanswered Question” in a concert and it sums up just about everything for me. But maybe the piece is too delicate to deliver it’s wisdom through the styrofoam. I bought some of Ives’ other pieces and especially the “Universe Symphony” is a hoot! But it’s pretty long and one has to listen to it to understand it’s humor, so that’s not an option for the Boxes either. Arvo Pärt’s Für Alina Spiegel Im Spiegel EP was the only soundtrack in Gus Van Sant’s film Gerry and I remember it bore through my heart when I watched it. The pieces are poignant, beautiful and non-complicated but engaging, and not as heart-wrenching and easy-pleasing as anything by Max Richter. I liked the OST of Tony Takitani by Ryuichi Sakamoto, too. Holy Other makes wonderful music and maybe it is suitable as well. I’ll hear.
Oh, you know, lust, transcendence, childhood, friendship, religion. Also, I am a BIG cinephile, and I am a terrible know-it-all. Years of release of all of Hitchcock’s movies? I know them. Unfortunately I also tend to let everyone else know that they can always count on my expertise in terms of great taste and knowledge about film history. So, movies, ALL kinds of movies are a great and constant inspiration to me. I am often writing down ideas for film scripts, too, but right now I’ve no time to dedicate to writing and and immersing myself in writing and developing my style as I did with the objects. I read Georges Bataille a lot, and books on film studies, social studies, neuroscience, psychoanalysis and a lot about architecture, especially the International Style architects and Japanese traditional architecture. Those are all big subjects in my head. And the book about Japanese apartments I always have around, as well as the Story of the Eye and several Bauhaus books. Also, nature. I can stay for years on end in Berlin and when I get out for a few days to the sea, I become very depressed when I get home. That is another reason I want to go to the USA. I imagine It’s grand and diverse nature will be much closer to me in a city close by the sea. Food is very much an inspiration, too. Recently I designed quite a few new objects with cakes.
As a child I was pretty religious, and I started out with “making” first when I turned my former childhood Christian pendants into wearable objects. Currently I am building a big object inspired by my former faith connected to video games.