If I’m not exactly sure of what to do, I install very, very quickly—in an hour, an hour and a half—and either it works or it doesn’t. A bit like the performances of the ’70s [Jochen Gerz, Ulrike Rosenbach, Vito Acconci, Friederike Pezold]; either they worked or they didn’t. But usually it does work, and most of the time it works very well…
I wasn’t inclined to do performance myself because I wanted to draw and paint—I find the process particularly beautiful. I paint as if I were doing a performance. I don’t mean large pieces that I work on for weeks, but ideas that are the effect of concentration: an hour on a Monday gives completely different results to a Tuesday, but everything has the same value. Large paintings and simple drawings are all the same to me. I think that comes straight out of the ’70s, along with feminism, which was very strong in Switzerland at the time…
I get up in the morning and decide whether to draw or do something in a larger format. It’s always a spontaneous decision… I only work from one to three hours a day: my concentration is very intense: I dive into it, then emerge, and it’s finished. It doesn’t mean the painting is perfect when I’m done. — Miriam Cahn*
At the 59th Venice Biennale, Cahn’s installation of paintings and drawings is on view through the end of November. See link below for details.
Through November 27
Giardini della Biennale—Central Pavilion
*“‘In My Work, Each Day is Important’: A Conversation with Miriam Cahn,” interview by Patricia Falguières, Élisabeth Lebovici, and Nataša Petrešin-Bachelez, in Miriam Cahn: Ich als Mensch, edited by Jana Baumann (Munich: Haus der Kunst; Hirmer, 2019), 216–229.
The printed interview is part of a longer conversation that took place during the November 2014 seminar series Something You Should Know: Artists and Producers Today at the School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences (EHESS), Paris—organized by the interviewers—on the occasion of Cahn’s Paris Centre Culturel Suisse exhibition Corporel.
Miriam Cahn, 59th Venice Biennale—The Milk of Dreams, April 23–November 27, 2022, Central Pavilion, from top: untitled, 13.7.2021, watercolor on paper; weinenmüssen, 9.6.2021, pencil on paper; undarstellbar (zeige!), 2018 and 26.6.2021, oil on cotton; unser süden, 17.7.2021, oil on canvas; unser süden sommer, Miriam Cahn, 2021, installation view, 59th Venice Biennale, 2022, photograph by Andrea Avezzù; it’s nature stupid! (detail), 24.7.2021, scan and pencil on paper; lachen, 18.6.2021, watercolor on paper; untitled, 10.7.2021, pencil, graphite, and crayon on paper. Artwork photographs by Francois Doury. Images © Miriam Cahn, courtesy of the artist, Meyer Riegger, Berlin and Karlsruhe, and Galerie Jocelyn Wolff, Paris.