Carla Ingrasciotta: Let’s start with your participation to the Armory show, for which you are presenting the installation “Eye” (2014–2017) an interactive photo booth from which visitors can take away passport-sized portraits. Could you tell us about the creative process behind this artwork? How did this idea come up?
Fiete Stolte: The artwork that people receive is a self-portrait of their eye with their own silhouette reflected in it. The origin of this concept came from the reflections that I saw in my wife’s eyes. I like the idea of the eye being a mirror that reflects the world. In fact it is a common phenomenon that things reflect in the eye, I just searched for a way to stage this awareness.
C.I.: Your artistic research mainly deals with concepts of temporality and physicality. You chose to live by an eight-day week and changed the North-East-West-South principle to Fiete-East-West-South. Which are the benefits of having a shorter day and a longer week? How do you translate this way of thinking and living in your art? Which are your favorite tools of exploration?
F.S.: I created my own time structure with 8 shorter days, 21 hours each, within the week we all experience and personally navigate. When I lived this particular time structure of the 8-day week, it increasingly shifted from a temporal experience to a physical one. A good morning tea at midnight is a intimate revelation of freedom.
Having another time normally also means to be in another place. My time and the time of my surroundings were reaching into each other, allowing me to be present and absent at once. My interest in opposites originated during this time.
C.I.: This in an incredible year for you: you are having your first solo show in the US with Albertz Benda gallery and have been recently announced as an exhibitor in the 57th Venice Biennale. How do you feel about this? Which is the theme you’re exploring for the Biennale? Could you give us a sneak preview of what we would see at this upcoming event?
F.S.:Indeed, this year is an important one in my career as an artist. After 10 years of workin, it is an important milestone and offers a point of fresh and new opportunities. The work to be shown in Venice (courtesy of albertz benda, NYC) is confidential, of course. But I can tell that it is a sculptural intervention that focuses on traces as physical evidence of a moment. Within this moment, you can extend imaginary both into the past and the future. Look and see!
C.I.: How is your typical day as an artist? Do you have an open studio which can be visited?
F.S.: The good thing about being an artist is the fact that it is not always the same. During some periods, I would focus all my attention on the studio, fixated on my own mental universe, while sometimes it’s more travelling and collecting ideas (which I can do with our son and my wife who works with me) and in other times it is more about organisation of the whole business. The best part is to develop new works and the whole process of experimentation. It absolutely cannot get boring at all.
C.I.: You were born and grew up as an artist in Berlin, which is one of the main destinations of contemporary art. However, as the “American dream” is a concept that still survives, many artists decide to move in New York. What is your impression of the art scene in New York? For what you’ve being experienced how does the New York art scene differ from the Berlin one?
F.S.: Berlin is a good play ground that you can use to develop your ideas, it is the perfect setup to get things started. There are so many interesting artists around and good venues of all sorts, as well as being affordable to live in. By contrast, New York real estate prices are incredibly high so galleries cannot take big risks. New York seems to be more of a place with a very high standard. In New York art is business, in Berlin art is prestige.
Reflecting on my last experiences from the Armory Show and my solo show with albertz benda, I received a warm welcome to this town and had an open-minded audience. Thank you NYC! I think you have to be ready for New York, it needs a certain artistic identity and self-confidence which I feel ready for now.