YYYYMMDD: QUESTION#0 Would you like to eat with us? Where?

ADNAN BALET BALCINOVIC: Yes. At the Würstelstand opposite of the Opera. I'll have a Curry Wurst with fries. Is one of you vegetarian/vegan?

Sounds great. Do you mean bitzinger? We are neither vegetarian nor vegan.

No, it is the one diagonal from Bitzinger through the opera - in front of Spar Gourmet - on the way to Karlsplatz.

Shall we first eat, or do we eat and talk?

I don´t mind. I think we should do all at the same time.

YYYYMMDD — Interview Adnan Balet Balcinovic — http://www.yyyymmdd.de/interview-adnan-balet-balcinovic.php

QUESTION#1 Why did we pick you? What do you think?

I hope it is because you like my work - and because you like me.

That is definitely also one of the reasons why we picked you, but we also want to tell you why.

That will we be very interesting now.

We still remember the first video we saw, the one you did in the year we met each other - it was the one with the tools and the second one was the animation with all the “amazings”, being the last the one you did for your diploma. The mix of sculpture, graphical solutions, architectural influences and a performative practice in your work caught our attention.

The performative practice sounds interesting.

The big AMAZING sculpture has the character of a stage element - a stage prop.

That’s actually very true. Among other thoughts it plays with some specific characteristics of stage-design and the questions of how to stage a prop.

That´s what caught our attention and led us to want to know a more about your practice.

About the AMAZING or in general?

YYYYMMDD — Interview Adnan Balet Balcinovic — http://www.yyyymmdd.de/interview-adnan-balet-balcinovic.php

“Tools”, 2013
Video, 18min20sec

Both, and specially because of the performative aspect. It is interesting to use performative techniques - and create stages - without having a play or an actor/actress. A practice where the installation in the performative element and the audience becomes an acting crowd with moving around and positioning themselves around the stage(d) element(s).

Well the work started off as an idea for a video about constructing narration and telling a story, but as you obviously see in the “end-result”, I didn’t manage to do a video. I was researching old movie serials - from the 20’s/30’s - that had been produced for the cinema with a low budget and were constructed in a very simple way. Some examples would be Flash Gordon (1936), Lost City (1935) or Buck Rogers (1939). While reading about these movie serials I realised there was a parallel to my work - simple characters, repetitive structures and simple presentations.

My research led me to dig deeper in the topic of science-fictional series as well as pulp magazines publishing serials and one caught my attention: AMAZING is a word that appears as a the title of the magazine “Amazing Stories” - and the amazing was just one of the titles. There were a lot more with similar words that defined something big, huge, fantastic like: astonishing, astounding, famous, incredible, thrilling… And afterwards I found that it made sense - my work in general, what I am interested in and the piece “Amazing” itself. It was interesting just to use one word, the “amazing”, and to see how one word changes from a word to a title and to a drawing, and then to a sign, how one word can be the title, the model for the work and the work itself. So in the end it didn’t become a video, it became a drawing and series of models and later an installation.

We were amazed by the AMAZING. Specially when we saw it the first time for your diploma in the Aula of the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, and the second time in the diploma exhibition (where you showed it in a different space in the Academy) and the third time now in the ONE WORK GALLERY.

Yes, I was very happy that I could show it in that space.

It was great the huge AMAZING had been squeezed into this tiny exhibition space as it filled the entire room, looking much smaller than in the academy.

But it was the same that I showed in the other exhibitions.

So now you know why we picked you and what triggered our attention.

It is all about the AMAZING - its my money shot. (laughter)

A very simple approach with a very clear language.

In my works I always try to have a clear and simple language. The structure of my work is simple and it inherits repeated elements.

YYYYMMDD — Interview Adnan Balet Balcinovic — http://www.yyyymmdd.de/interview-adnan-balet-balcinovic.php

“Amazing” at the One Work Gallery, 2015
Inkjet print on paper mounted on foam board, cut out, ca. 285x330x140cm
fixed on a wooden framework and supported by two sand bags.

QUESTION#2 How would you like to be (re)presented?

That´s one of the hard questions to answer, together with the question about my network. You mean myself, or the art?

How you see yourself in relation to your art. You can think of it in several directions: institutions, galleries, do i want to (re) present myself alone, should someone else do it, do i put my things in the internet, am I strictly against that, do i use social media or not, a platform (virtual or/and real)? It can be discussed in a very wide and open way.

For the work I think of course about galleries and museums because thats what we do, we do art and we need a space to show our work depending on the discourse we are working in.
On one hand I want my work to be presented in the art context, and as I was answering the question to myself I also thought about the aspect of the audience/visitor perceiving my work, which they should do in the most serious way as possible. BUT there should never be missing the humorous part that my work is dealing with, because it is a bit funny…

It is (laughs).

Serious, but not too serious.
Another important point is the space where the work is installed. With the AMAZING I could see the influence a big space can have on a piece and on the discussion about the piece.
In the case of “Amazing” people are already intrigued by the size and the work itself. The sloppy three dimensional appearance, a very clear reference to the language of comics and cartoons, and then the staging of this actually very thin sign to an object in space. “Amazing” caught their attention and they started to create their own story around it without needing too many extra informations about the content of the piece. It worked as such a brutal image itself. They were just amazed and wanted to take pictures all the time.

As you mentioned it is an image, a piece that gives me as a spectator the stage to think my ideas around the sculpture. It is open for a new and very personal storyline one can build looking at your work.

People are taking selfies all the time with the piece - I realised that - and at some point I felt on one hand a bit uncomfortable with that, on the other hand I understood that their pictures were similar to the magazine covers the work is based on. They became a bit of look-a-likes of the magazine-covers. So in the end there was a circle which brought my work through the audience and back to the beginning of my research.
Is that what you think the performative aspect is?

YYYYMMDD — Interview Adnan Balet Balcinovic — http://www.yyyymmdd.de/interview-adnan-balet-balcinovic.php

Yes, we believe the piece can be used in a lot of different ways. As a sculpture, as a stage object or as an image. It is capable of telling a story with nothing else around it. Each individual spectator can move around the piece and interact with the work in a very personal way.

Again it is very interesting, you bringing up the performative aspect of the work. Because honestly I didn’t think that much about it while working on the piece. It was challenging to me to think about how a drawing of a single word with certain references attached to it influences the perception and the reading of it - on the one hand the visible reference to cartoons and science-fiction but also the american-english language itself. Entering an art space and what is presented there is simply ’amazing’. And then the fact that it is a reproduced object and that it is an object that in a way wants to be an original but there is a series of 37 models behind it.
It is intriguing that you open this perspective and look at the work from a different point of view. Thinking the piece as a stage to be used as a performative element. The audience is the performer. And in the pictures the audience takes it and becomes the cover with the scene, telling a story.

Do you have a gallery you would like to be (re)presented by? Some of us have already a list with names we would love to have as their gallerists, or this doesn’t play a role for you at all?

Of course a gallery would be amazing, but I don´t have any specific names now. As an institution I like the Generali Foundation, their (amazing) huge collection and the space they had here in Vienna (but now they’re in Salzburg…). I like simple and very clear constructed concepts of galleries and spaces such as the One Work Gallery.

Which we think makes sense for your work. What is so nice about it is that it has a certain size and you can just show one single piece that should represent you the best. It has kind of a guideline an artist has to stick to - which sometimes isn´t such a bad thing - in terms of restrictions.

QUESTION#3 Where would you position yourself?

My art? The first time I read the question I thought: politically? Considering my work I would position myself next to the artists I like, and most of them are conceptual artists - conceptual in one way or the other. In the context of conceptual art and in general my current work is close to graphics and graphic design. But also close to all art that doesn’t only relate to the art world itself but different creative fields and their relation to art and art production.

YYYYMMDD — Interview Adnan Balet Balcinovic — http://www.yyyymmdd.de/interview-adnan-balet-balcinovic.php

And you studied architecture.

Yes, I did.

Does it have an influence on your work? In my case I now understand that all the studies I did in the last 10 years pop-up again in my artistic work. There are specific tools and strategies that influence the work.

I would never call myself an architect and for some time I was running away from this notion and trying not to define my work as a work by an architect because it is simply not true. Now I don’t care. Of course one could see the influence in the tools I use to create my work, but there is no work that gives a specific reference to architecture. Not yet. But in my “toolbox” this influence exists. Still I would not position myself as an architect…
Of course it gives me a certain and a specific knowledge. But everybody has this I guess, we all have our own past influencing us and our work. It partially defines our artistic language. And most of the times the audience raises the question about the ‘space’ in architectural terms but to be honest that’s not the first thing I think about. Or it is just me being fed up with the usage of the word ‘space’ in architectural terms.

Often it has a lot to do with the audience projecting the background information they have about the artist and influencing the way they look at the work. If I know that someone was an architect, dancer, doctor, lawyer or whatever, I look at the things from a different perspective.

One of the artists that really influenced my work is John Baldessari who dealt a lot with space in an ironical way, not too serious nor moralistic.
But lets move on to the next question, what do you think?

That’s a very good idea. I am actually afraid that the very strong wind we’re feeling here will make the ketchup-senf mixture in the sausages fly on to my white dress.

QUESTION#4 Show us your favourite work you did. / Someone else did.

I brought something with me. One of my all-time favourite works is a work by John Baldessari called “Six colourful inside jobs”. It is a room filmed from the top and you can see a person entering it and starting to paint it. Six times in six different colours, each time the person paints the room in a different colour. The video is shown in fast forward.
I actually wanted to reproduce one of his works but so far I did not manage to do it… A still unfinished but also not really started project. It is a piece called “Delivering a speech to imaginary persons in different spaces in a room” and it’s a part of the work “The way we do art now and other sacred tales”, which deals with the question of what can be perceived as art. And it is so funny. Discovering this artwork really changed a lot in my artistic practice.
The other work I want to show you is one I recently rediscovered. It is called “Krazy Kat” and it is a cartoon from 1916 by George Herriman. It is about this cat called Krazy and its love to the mouse Ignatz. I discovered this comic/cartoon some time ago, and I just realized that other of my all-time favourites - Elaine Sturtevant - copied/reproduced this comic. Recently her works were shown in an exhibition at the Albertina and I discovered the Krazy Kat there.

"6 Colorful Inside Jobs"
John Baldessari, 1977

"Krazy Kat Goes A Wooing"
George Herriman, 1916

And the funny thing after all was the fact that Sturtevant didn’t copy the comic, she reproduced the copied version of the Krazy Kat that Öywind Fahlström created in his works in the 60’s. This was pretty amazing, to discover this line of reproduction in different works of art and to find a line that connects works I already very much liked. And in the end also to discover works of Öywind Fahlström which were a big surprise to me. I didn’t know his works before.
The favourite work I did… Actually I have a favourite work of mine at the moment, favourite in the way that I am thinking a lot about it. It is an animation I did in 2012 called “Boxing” and it is a one hour long piece, a sequence of still-images / drawings showing variations of cardboard boxes. The piece was done some time ago, but recently it came up again. I somehow feel that I would like to show it again as I realised it dealt with a lot of things that I am dealing again with in my current work. It connects a lot of topics and questions that I’ve been thinking about again, like the relationship between drawing and video or the relationship between a single image and a sequence.

You showed that piece once or not?

And I feel it has never been shown or installed in a proper context.

YYYYMMDD — Interview Adnan Balet Balcinovic — http://www.yyyymmdd.de/interview-adnan-balet-balcinovic.php

“Boxing (Schachteln)", 2012
16:9, black and white, no sound, ca. 58min
digital drawings transferred to animgif

QUESTION#5 How do you start your working-process?

With thinking I guess. There are plenty of different starting points for each specific work I do. There are topics I am interested in in general - repetition, serial production… and there is the material I accumulate. Sometimes they really do overlap. 
It is a lot about finding material, collecting and afterwards stepping back and looking at it. Mostly I start with a drawing.

A big pool full with material - we like the image of the pool… SÖÖT/ZEYRINGER mentioned it too.

I collect, I get material, I name a project, I create a folder and throw all the material into it.

Speaking about AMAZING - as we talked about it earlier - I still have a huge folder with a lot of research and material in it. In the end it was just one little specific portion of that huge amount of stuff that became the starting-point of the installation.

The answer leads us to QUESTION#6 Which is/are your material/s?

Recently my material derives a lot from the “cinema”, or from movies. I’ll just name the material I used in the last years or I am using right now: assembly instructions for cardboard boxes, drawing of dust in cartoons, free tools by Ikea, etchings by Hans Holbein the Younger showing the dance of death, color in “La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc” (1928) by Carl Th. Dreyer. So it can actually be anything which is connected to the topic of cinema, art, drawing, repetition.

Which also in the final output can become everything?

Of course, still I do video and animations so there is a certain language or technique that I use. Even for “Amazing” I did an animation. The questions I am constantly asking myself are dealing with the notions of drawing and image, the sequence and the sequence of images and then about reproduction, conceptualism and about authorship and originality.

Now we come already to our last question.

QUESTION#7 Show us your network.

I am pointing my finger at you. It is weird to think about the answer to such a simple question. Everybody does it but nobody wants to speak about it.

YYYYMMDD — Interview Adnan Balet Balcinovic — http://www.yyyymmdd.de/interview-adnan-balet-balcinovic.php

Adnan Balet Balcinovic’s works deal with various types of serial production in relation to art practice. He works with found material and products, looking for concepts, structures and patterns. In his installations he uses different forms of drawings, working models, animation as well as video. Repetition, reproduction and presentation are important notions in his practice.
Adnan Balet Balcinovic lives and works in Vienna. He studied at the Institute for Art and Architecture and the Institute for Video and Video Installation at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna. Together with Sasha Pirker he runs the exhibition space “SIZE MATTERS . Space for Art and Film”.