Sarah Bernauer

What’s your background?

I grew up in a small village in Switzerland, my parents were strictly religious and there was not much contact to the „outside“ world. Because there was little entertainment, I started to read everything I could get my hands on. Through that reading process I became aware of alternative world views, views different than the one I was strongly taught. As a result of my upbringing I became very sensitive to any kind of imposed or isolating ideologies. I also realized how our conditioning impacts the perception of ourselves and the world in general. Those early formative experiences are still crucial for my practice as an artist. I like to think of ideas within a network of relation and references and therefore installation is my preferred medium of presenting my work.

What are your artistic influences?

When I was 18 a friend took me to a retrospective of Niki de Saint Phalle and I was immediately hooked by her filmic work, the way she transferred her shortcomings into a tool for deconstructing her male-dominated surroundings and creating her own narrative. I thought immediately: this is what I want! However, it took me a couple of years until I finally decided to study art and become an artist myself. I’m always drawn to strong female positions, be it in art, literature or theory – but I’m also generally interested in artist positions, contemporary and historical ones, that combine different mediums and disciplines, especially those who are using writing as an essential part of their work.

How do you start a new work?

I’m definitely a collector and sampler. I have the sometimes annoying habit of constantly writing everything down that strikes me as important. My ever-growing collection of copybooks is in a way the backbone of my work. That includes as well a lot of sketches and drawings. I never have a fully formulated idea of the end result when I start working on a new project. I’m more interested to see where it takes me. I follow different approaches and notions and then the actual work comes into existence during an extensive process of editing. Usually a deadline is helpful to conclude that process.

What are you working on right now?

At the moment I’m working on an installation that combines elements of spoken poetry with sound pieces. I’m also excited about a new project space I’ll be opening in Berlin in September together with my partner, where we’ll be organizing periodic exhibitions, talks and readings.