Bettina Semmer

My studio is my Haven. Freedom. Place to dream.

What I do in one sentence: I am a painter who also veers into film, public intervention, and permaculture.

Why I didn’t get a proper job: I did, many times. I worked as a tutor at university (but I guess that counts as part of my art practice), and a few others jobs. They are not satisfying as long as one is working for a boss, and the profit of a company – it is alienated work. Teaching, however, is not. That is in essence a very useful thing, and an opportunity to shape the future, to put seeds into the minds of young people, and it is relational work. A „proper job“ gave me experience of how capitalism works.

An artwork I dream of and I would get accomplished if space, time and money were abundant: Re-modeling agriculture to build fertile and permanent systems for food production. The desertification of parts of the earth could be reversed. Making clean water and healthy food available for all mankind, that would be my dream in a paradise called planet Earth. That would be peace.

Why I do what I do: All my life, I have done painting, it was an inner drive, as well as the need to succeed in the world. It is a way to dream – and dreaming is shaping the future. It is an enquiry into reality, a way of seeing. It has become an educated path through art school and seeing other works of art but in the beginning it was more of an inner need to do something expressive, with color and shape and with my hands. When I had neglected it for a few years, I fell very ill. The moment I had the diagnosis, I knew that I will never again abandon it. Of course there are other ways to be creative, but painting, and a specific type of painting, is my way. Color not only pleases the eye (formal demands) but also vibrates and resonates with the subtle and emotional level of being (an inner decorator should also know this and work accordingly). Another, but secondary aspect is art as a comment on reality, or even stronger, a campaign, a loud speaker for human rights or environmental issues that can find their expression and be amplified through art. Together with a team of lovely people who care about the future and about each other, I am building an alternative model for Agriculture which is equal or superior to a painting. It will be a multiplier for others to emulate the system of a permacultural food forest.

Artists, I have on my watch list (and why): Francis Alÿs, the clown and the nothingness; Alfredo Jaar, „art is peace“, the reduction of a myriad of observations into one word; Carolina Caycedo, environmental issues poured into poetic form, a fighter, intellectual, spiritual and physical; Ana Mendieta, the goddess isn’t dead; why did she disappear? The art world owes her an apology; gone but not forgotten, beautiful poetic work; Alice Creischer and Andreas Siekmann. Watching, campaigning; Nicole Eisenman: both a wonderful painter and commenting on contemporary world, queer as fuck; exceptional human.

I am afraid of the demons that live in humans which are greed, neurotic needs, egotism and violence that is unconscious.

I know that a piece is finished when I am not thinking about it any more.

How I want to be buried resp. words I want to be written on my tombstone: I have two: “She gave a lot of people a lot of pleasure” (I stole that from Jackie Collins); “Why not dance!”