Before the Time is Up: a Conversation with Monique Baumann

I’m not thinking on how people might react, because then you and everybody else can see les traces…

1, 2, 3… 3, 2, 1… This is not a test!

The encounter with Zurich-based artist Monique Baumann happened a month before the Christmas holidays and early January (2020). Between France, Switzerland and Italy. Certainly, the green had stopped multiplying itself. The grey [around and upon us) is the star . There was wine, a long chilly walk through the Seine, a FaceTime call and some other spontaneous guest appearances –some of them unknown, but special and almost protagonists as well–. “I never have plans,” Baumann said to CHEVET when asked about her current agenda. “It’s rare when I find myself in other people’s position when they can plan vacations, for example. I’m currently working and work it is.” For that reason and intrigued by the multidisciplinary artist, we took the chance of starting the conversation with a particular subject:

What does time mean to you? 

Time is freedom, it’s also luxury. Ever since I’m an artist, time is as important as any other of my tools. However, this doesn’t mean that we are talking about pressure. To me, is more about deadlines, which is a different word with a whole different meaning –even if it’s related to timing–.

Another great thing about time is what it usually brings. Do you have any idols? 

I’m not a fan-kind-of-person. I can find anyone special by the way he or she talks, the way of using their body language, or arranging the words. This situation can happen in an exhibition, a restaurant, etc. 


Copyright: Monique Baumann

I guess your answer suppresses the question I’ve planned to ask you after being showered with names of icons from the past or even present.

Well, It’s a way to abstract yourself, really.  I mean, sometimes you go and meet an artist or writer to then realised that he/she was not the ideal that you had created in the back of your mind. Maybe yes, but it will depend on so many factors… So, here comes the battle between the great work and personal appreciation. I try to divide both personas, in a way, to make the final decision whatever the context puts me in: if I’m going to be just a viewer or if it’s a social event that transcends to a more personal approach towards someone. 

So, yes… I don’t have idols or maybe I haven’t met them yet!

In your About is highlighted the fact you “…fusing this illusionistic, expressionistic painting onto passive, almost meaningless photographic picture formats is a central element of your artistic work.” What have you discovered over the years developing your way of art?

That I’ve really followed my instinct.

Most of the time, we [writers and journalists] have to consider a few things in order to expose a piece; for some reason (?) artists enjoy more freedom when creating and exhibiting their work. Is it true or are you always struggling with the idea of how people might react to your work?

Never. I have to be closed to the way I work and the result I’m going for. I’m not thinking on how people might react, because then you and everybody else can see les traces… tu vois? And that it’s more scary!

def.1 (Kopie)

Copyright: Monique Baumann

What is your reference source that never stops giving you good ideas? 

My experiences. Every time I start to working on anything, whether it’s a commission job or personal, all the words that I’ve managed to gather together in the dictionary of my mind, all the images, colours and ideas come out to help me shape the final result. 

You work internationally,  so… what’s discretion and what’s censorship?

This is a hard one for me. I like discretion, because ça veut dire sacré. Censorship comes as a wall, it’s not related to being private, or even having permission. It’s a way of blocking and you have to have the power of deciding what, how much and when do you want to share it.

For instance, when I’m approached to work with an agency, magazine or brand, they have to accept that I work only under the idea of a carte blanche. I decide how I work and what I’m going to show at the end of the collaboration.

It’s more about being an independent artist and free.

DSC00956 (Kopie) (Kopie)

Copyright: Monique Baumann

What makes you cringe?

C’est une question de notion, de tempérament. I’m very easy going, I will probably wait before letting something bother me. Wait! Not wait, but kind of action-reaction. You know what I mean? 

From completing your degree to collaborating with other creatives in the field like Self Service, AnOther Magazine, i-D, Vanity Fair, Vogue Hong Kong, among others… You can say that experience make you more flexible or more stubborn?

Flexible, for sure. It’s a question of security, it opens your mind. The more experience you have, the more relaxed you are.

01_freie arbeit a4v4RZ7.2Kopie Kopie

Copyright: Monique Baumann

If you would have the chance to ask a very tricky question to a fellow artist, what would that be?

I would ask a lot if the chance comes along. The thing is that we are all hungry, but this encounters don’t happen out of nowhere.

All images and Copyright: Monique Baumann


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