portrait

GIVE PEOPLE SPACE!

Stirnimann-Stojanovic (*1990, Fribourg/*1993 Vranje) question the art market with performances, words and objects. With their collective strategies, they want to open the field for a fairer and more sustainable art organization – with the aim of returning the power of art to society: art is life and life is live.

1255.72 kilometers lie between Fribourg and Vranje. Stirnimann-Stojanovic are based in Zurich and are having their studio at Mythenquai 345. The two got to know each other six years ago during a ten-week residency program in Pristina, Belgrade and Zurich. Working between Switzerland and Serbia for two years, Nathalie Stirnimann and Stefan Stojanovic moved into their first joint studio not far from Wollishofen station in 2017. They completed their master’s degree at the Zurich University of the Arts as a duo.

They address social, political and structural contexts of capitalism. This is pointedly shown in their latest work, «What if the walls were more flexible?» presented at «Kunststipendien der Stadt Zürich 2021» in Helmhaus. Vesna Stojanovic, Stefan’s mother, was fired as a nurse in Serbia because she stood up against political oppression and corruption. «As a stand against the oppression and in support of Vesna, we decided to developp an artwork together.» Thus, 96 doilies crocheted by Vesna and stacked on top of each other form three flexible bricks, laid out on an accordion roller track reminiscent of an assembly line. The proceeds from the sale of the work are further donated to support local organizations supporting people fleeing in the EU buffer zones. By letting the buyers decide the price of the bricks’ layers themselves, an alternative is created to the market and its system.

“What if the walls were more flexible?”, Kunststipendien Stadt Zürich, Helmhaus, 2021, photo: Stirnimann-Stojanovic

Performance unites
Their first performances started already during the first meeting. «We didn’t have a common language», says Nathalie Stirnimann. «The medium ‘performance’ enabled us to communicate through visual and body language – by creating images.» Performance is still one of their main practice, although they now speak English together which lead to new forms of works.

“What if the walls were more flexible?” (ongoing series), Reclaim, Köln, 2020, photo: Reclaim Kollektiv / Performance documentation, U10, Belgrade, 2017, photo: Srdjan Djuric

As an emerging artist duo, their work questions the art market and art as a privileged discipline. «Art as something that provokes, moves or simply shows that change is possible», says Nathalie Stirnimann. Then again, they poetically preserve the fleetingness of the moment. As seen at Stadtgalerie in Bern: «See you in 20 years, good luck» alludes to whether we will still be here when the next repetition of the same performance takes place. The performance has been crystallised in the form of a Polaroid photograph.

Friends of friends of friends
At Jungkunst in Winterthur, Stirnimann-Stojanovic focus on social mobility. «We are preoccupied with the ambivalence that we humans, as social beings, relate to everyone and everything and are interdependent onto each other», says Nathalie Stirnimann. This is very important, she says, but it also tips over into ‘politics of friendship’. «And that is not always just valuable exchange, but also nepotism and dependencies that enable – but also prevent and exclude», adds Stefan Stojanovic. So, for once, the work showing in Winterthur is not about economic capital, but about social capital. And that’s what we want to talk about!»

Preview (studio view: ready for transport!), “Social Mobility”, Jungkunst Winterthur, 2021, photo: Stirnimann-Stojanovic

Exhibition
Jungkunst 2021
www.jungkunst.ch
Hall 53, Katharina-Sulzer-Platz 8400 Winterthur
28 to 31 October 2021

www.stirnimannstojanovic.com
www.instagram.com/stirnimann_stojanovic

Portrait taken in Hong Kong, 2018, photo: Florian Geisseler