“Every media has its own effect and fascination”
Beni Bischof’s a product of his generation. His artistic output seems to make peace with being raised in the 70s and 80s. There is a consumptive pattern of material use. Absurd images of advertising enabled by an errant hot dog here and there and the drip of paint has less and less containment. It is as if, Bischof, like Erich Steinbrecher, Tom Friedman, and a number of people working in the Post-Fordist tradition have recognized that the power and glory of materials in a material society are no longer relegated to the paintbrush.
By Brad Feuerhelm, ASX Editor and Partner, September 2015
BF: Your work continually perplexes me. It is multi-disciplinary, without confines of rules, and with a incredible infusion of comedy and horror. Please shed some light on how you have developed such an absurd, but wonderful body of work?
BB: Thanks for your compliments. In the last years, I just did what I liked… what I have the knowledge for and what I was interested in. I always try to have an interesting day. So I always have plans and something in my mind to do… experiments, to try something. Mostly, I like simple things…weird ideas… absurd things. So all my works have all kind of doityourself-character… thats not a concept, but a character. Often, it its just that what I have the knowledge for. I like that more or less individual character where you see me as a subject behind or my very personal faults displayed. I like being alone on my knees in my studio I nailing a nail in a piece of wood, hearing music, playing guitar, painting, trying out something etc…lots of my works are just a “try out something today”.
BF: Part of your work seems to be categorically routed in extreme production. You produce and produce and produce much the way hoarders assemble material goods in their homes, with a sense of purpose controlled be obsession. Do you believe that your practice is reflective of consumerist society at large or is it relegated simply to the need to produce for you, the itch, the burning desire to make, what puts you into the studio with this much vigor?
BB: I always said I “produce” my works for me. I like them having around me in my studio. They are kind of friends of mine. You know, my studio is pretty full of works. Often there are still small paths to go trough my studio. I look at them. They look at me. I get inspired for new works when I look at my older ones. I make my works for me, but people have come who were interested in them. I still surprised when people are interested in my works.
I feel a very strong need to do new works…all kind of works. I always have a pen in my hand and do drawings. Maybe I get nervous if I do not. It’s kind of an addiction. I’m addicted ;). I often feel driven by something. A need to work to draw or paint or do something funny on my computer. Its just a part of my life. Its a rhythm. Like eating my daily sandwich.
Also because there is so many influence around me (visual, political, etc..) I easily get inspired and my machine runs and puts out something.
Often shit. Sometimes, not.
“And for me the sausage is kind of unofficial symbol of the place I live (east of Switzerland/St.Gallen) we have the famous Olma-Bratwurst. And it’s also kind of funny object. But before all: I like its absurd, nonsense vibes”.
BF: The collage work, if you would call them that…using magazine covers and layering them with silly string, play-doh, etc. and scratching into the surface…seems to be almost a performance like purposing of material. Do you often just pick up a tabloid newspaper or album cover and go “oh yeah, oh fuck yeah…I’m so getting a vibe on this”? How do you pick the material that you engage with?
BB: I find the material I use in my everyday life. I often go to the kiosk when I’m waiting for my train…looking what new magazines they have. When I’m really fascinated by a cover, I buy it. Then it lays on the floor of my studio…Sometimes for months. Then, suddenly… Bang!! I take oil colors or a scissor. 5min. And a new work is made.
BF: One other mode of production you have is a bit more photographic. I hate saying post-photography. I feel using the word “post” means our collective language has stopped. In any event, the images of cars without tires “handicapped cars”, the hermetically sealed smiley faced women, the Swiss hunter with an upside down face…how does it feel being so completely physical with some materials and then working from a computer for the others…one must feel more “automatische”?
BB: Until now I wanted to try everything I like. So I do paintings, drawings etc, but also digital-collaging/manipulations. Every media has its own effect and fascination. Painting and drawing is more meditational and does express ideas in affect. for ex. in computer-work is more conceptual or rational.
BF: Food. There is a messy amount of food used as material…with so many fetishes centering on consumable goods…I have to ask…is there a charge using this material or is simply because its easier to use than paint?
BB: The main reason: it was available. That means it was inside my refrigerator because I often work in the kitchen. For example, the sausage is a kind of icon in Switzerland. And for me the sausage is kind of unofficial symbol of the place I live (east of Switzerland/St.Gallen) we have the famous Olma-Bratwurst. And it’s also kind of funny object. But before all: I like its absurd, nonsense vibes. a simple shape. It has nothing to do with painting. It’s more about collage. 3d-collage.
BF:I have termed your work and that of a few others as quantifiably “Mess Aesthetics”…the use of consumerist goods as material base. My feeling is that it has to do with the amount of production and advertising we grew up with. Can you elaborate on how advertising, packaging, tabloids, etc. make an impact on your choice of material value?
BB: Everything I see has a possible impact on my work…but, somehow, I’m a bit fascinated of the advertising-world and pop-culture what have lots of elements in common. It’s about surface, stupid slogans and pictures or sometimes also really good stuff. And most important: you can get it everywhere almost for free. Magazines, packages, webpics… lots of visual very effective materials which I like to comment…
BF: Are you coming to the fair? If so, what are you excited about seeing…somehow…I feel you would be running through the streets looking for discarded frankfurters and escort telephone booth cards…that’s what im doing at least…..
BB: No, I won’t be at the fair. I’m in the hood.
(All rights reserved. Text @ Brad Feuerhelm and ASX. Images @ Beni Bischof.)