INTERVIEW WITH DANIEL BAUMANN -DIZAJN PARK MAGAZINE

Artists Sabina Lang & Daniel Baumann work in a wide range of materials—wood, metal, paint, carpet and inflatable structures – but their true medium is space. Most of their works are site-specific, some are modular and can be adapted to different situations. Their body of work includes installations, sculptures, large-scale wall or floor paintings, and architectural interventions. Through careful prior analysis of the location and context of their interventions, Lang/Baumann initiate a dialogue with the existing situation, often playfully upending expectations and disrupting patterns of perception. With their opulent imagery they deliberately seek a delicate balance between clearly defined categories like public and private space, familiar and strange, art and functionality.

At Belgrade Design Week 2014, at the DizajnPark exhibition, they presented the piece Comfort #8 (seven parallel air-filled tubes installed along the walls of the gallery) and also took part in the international conference titled Brand New World, where they spoke about their work process and inspiration. Speaking with Daniel Baumann, we learned about…

Comfort #8

“This is a piece we developed some years ago. The idea was to create a sculpture which has no form at the moment it is built: it is a flat wall, and what we do in the exhibition is, we fold it around the existing walls. That’s what we did here: it starts at the wall, goes around and stops somewhere. In fact, the space where it’s exhibited gives the piece the form in the end. People see different things in this work. On one side it’s this goldish color, it’s beautiful, it’s something to look at, but at the same time they touch it and immediately start thinking: Hmmm, how would it be to jump in. They play with it. We never say if it’s allowed to play with it or not, it’s up to the visitor. Personally, I like this aspect of having fun with an object”.

Lecture

“We tried to explain the strategies used for the projects we have done. We never talk about future projects. I think the easiest way to explain how we work is if you show the projects you have already done. Also, in art projects there are complex stories, you work for one or two years on a single project. It’s a long process, and in the end, the people only see the final piece, and that’s the very end of the whole story. And to understand this, it’s also important to understand the whole process, and that’s what we will we tried to show at the conference”.

Approach

“We have ten to 15 exhibitions a year and most of them are invitations where nothing is defined at the beginning. We get asked to do a project in a particular place, and then we develop it, and it’s mostly site-specific. It can also go in many different directions, this is an inflatable work, of course, we also like to work a lot with colors, paint the streets, the walls… Another direction that interests us is functional objects. For example, we’ve built a diving platform in a city, so you have a tower, where you can go up, and you have a diving platform, but there is no pool, and also the first 10 meters of the ladder are missing…so you can only imagine to be up there. Once, in a skyscraper we installed two doors, and connected them, with a ladder: from the ground the visitors see two doors, and the staircase connecting them. But it’s inaccessible: you can only imagine what it would be like to use it”.

Art & design

“In general, I am unsure if art can change anything. For sure you have a wish that people go out with richer imagination, with a new perspective when they have visited your show, or seen your artwork. But I think it’s very hard to say art can change the world, or influence design. On the other hand, we get inspired by design, or by architects. It also works the other way around: designers can learn from art. But I think this is more about the dynamic of the community: we are a huge group of creative people, who work in the same direction, so you can take notice: Oh, this guy did a good thing, so you can learn from that. We are all together going in this common direction. It’s maybe even easier to influence people in another field, because artists are somehow mutually competitive, designers also, but artists and designers are not competing with each other, so it’s easier to look at it from a positive perspective”.

“Brand New World”

“When I read the Belgrade Conference title the first time, for me it was from the beginning very ironic, because it is a promise you never can keep. But I like visions, and I like this period in history where progressive wishing was dominant. That’s what I like about the sixties: they started imagining how it would be to live on the Moon. Such visions they had, and they really saw into the future. The next step in history was Post-modernism, so ugly and stupid concept to use historical elements and remix them. I much more prefer this dynamics where you really try to go ahead, in a new field. It’s also a new experience, it’s like running through a dark space, with no idea what’s happening, but you think: there is the next door, let’s try this. You can run into a wall, or you can really find that next door, and reach the next level”.

Venue: the old Staklopan factory

“This space was a huge surprise to me! It’s absolutely beautiful. When I first came here, I said: that would be a great studio. We live in a similar space, we also have our studio in an old factory, different from this, because it is in the countryside in Switzerland, so a very boring neighborhood (laugh), and this one is at the city center. I hope they can keep it for the future editions of Belgrade Design Week”.

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During Belgrade Design Week 2009, you enabled participants to meet with representatives from different countries, in professional, as well a sin social settings, which provided the opportunity for spontaneous interactions, where everyone was engaged in true cross-cultural dialogues. This allowed participants from different countries to become familiar with attitudes, ideas, and practices on the common topics of design.   We had received first hand accounts of current situation in creative fields and intellectual status of Belgrade Design Week, exchanged ideas and knowledge, mixed and mingled among each other. And the unique opportunity was given for all of us to establish professional relationships and develop lifelong friendships. We were eager to discover Belgrade and had a unique chance to enjoy the city! No doubt, it was our first, but not our last visit to Belgrade. All the best to Belgrade Design Week for the future to come! We are looking forward to be a part of your success

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