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6th February 2017 / Foundation /

QUESTIONS BY: Monica Khemsurov (Sight Unseen)

ANSWERED BY: Sarah Illenberger

EDITED BY: Monica Khemsurov

Where do you live — and why?
Berlin! Like most creatives who have moved there in the past years, I was drawn to the idea of low overheads enabling more creative space and freedom.

What inspired you to become a designer?
I was grown into a pretty inspiring family. My mother owned a beautiful jewellery shop with an in-store workshop creating handcrafted pieces. My dad ran a cafe right next door, and most of the people that walked in and out of these places were artists, theater makers, actors, and writers. From that point on, it was clear that I would also persue a creative career.

Who’s your creative idol?
Many… John Cage, Tomi Ungerer, and Patti Smith.

What’s the first thing you ever made?
As a child I made a complete outfit — including slippers, hat, and a coat — out of newspaper.

What’s the last thing you made before coming to the Villa?
The first thing I made after leaving the Villa were fake “truffle” rocks after being frustrated by not finding any real truffles.

Three key items you brought with you to the Villa:
Inscence sticks, bluetooth speakers, and my camera.

What material, idea, or process did you come here hoping to explore?
Nature and music. I wanted to see how silence (except the cicadas) would affect my work.

What material, idea, or process did you end up exploring unexpectedly?
I felt that my improvisation skills were really put to test at the residency. Being able to create without having my everyday materials and equipment around me challenged my creativity .

How does what you made at the Villa relate to your larger body of work?
It was great to have the chance to work in a way that was less conceptual and strategic and more personal and emotional. I am trying to maintain this quality in my upcoming projects.

What will you be leaving behind at the Villa when you go?
A 80cm x 120cm wall piece containing collected shards, rocks, and twigs I’ve transformed into a piece called “Beginnings.”

What will you be taking back home with you?
A  photo series called “Ikebanas” consisting of 10 nature arrangements collected onsite.

Favorite place or object you found at the Villa:
The Olivetti typewriter in the villa. I made a small book edition (“Always the Sun,” “Life in a nutshell,” and “Same page”) on my last days here, using type to create images.

Most inspiring person you met at the Villa:

Top tips you’d give someone coming to the Villa for the first time:
Rent a car.

Favorite place to visit close to the Villa:

Nature is… powerful!


Sarah Illenberger Artist Villa Lena
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