We have decided to launch a new intimate style of interview into TheAppWhisperer – the world’s most popular mobile photography and art website. We feel it is important that our community feel close to each other, as it is this support that helps us to nurture one another, gain confidence and continue to grow.
Today, we are publishing this brimmingly insightful interview with Michel Pretterklieber from Sankt Gallen, Switzerland. This is our twenty sixth interview, to read the other published interviews in this series including artists, Adria Ellis, Rino Rossi, Mehmet Duyulmus, Alexis Rotella, Lou Ann Sanford Donahue, Irene Oleksiuk, Kerry Mitchell, Filiz Ak, Dale Botha, Lisa Mitchell, M. Cecilia Sao Thiago, Deborah McMillion, Rita Colantonio, Amy Ecenbarger, Jane Schultz, Anca Balaj, Joyce Harkin, Armineh Hovanesian, Kate Zari Roberts, Vicki Cooper, Peter Wilkin, Barbara Braman, Becky Menzies, Sukru Mehmet Omur, Sarah Bichachi and myself, go here.
All images ©Michel Pretterklieber
What was your childhood or earliest ambition?
I wanted to have a punkband. Doing something with a cultural background.
But how life happens and I went in a completely different direction. It took some time for me to get into what I am doing now.
Talking about photography – the whole year 2016: my picture book was sold out that year and after one of those shows where over one hundred artists show ten or so works in an old warehouse I was invited to be one of three photographers in an exhibition about surrealism. We also had an artist talk and it was all made really great.
In the autumn of 2016 I won second place of a contest for emerging young artists in Switzerland. We toured for shows exhibiting the ten finalists in local cities as well as in Germany. Our works were presented in a beautiful catalog.
This was the time when I definitely knew this picture thing is the right thing to do for me.
I handed out flyers for a local charitable second hand clothing store. I bought Nirvana‘s Unplugged record with that money.
Private or State school?
For the first six years I went to public school and then I spent three years in a private but very open to attend catholic school. It didn’t make me a religious person at all. Because it was so open to kids from other religions it didn’t really have that typical catholic feeling. There were some teachers with a second religiously connected job like deacons though.
University or Work?
I attended vocational school as a salesman of multimedia products. There has never been a school related to art in my life. I really am an autodidact. All that stuff I put out has no teaching background.
I am sure I’d make other pictures if I had attended art classes – which somehow makes me glad I didn’t because I really like what I do and hope others do so as well.
Who was or is still is your mentor?
I haven’t talked to mine for a long time. He‘s a wonderful photographer and I am very happy to know him.
I’ll write him after this.
How physically fit are you?
I am very NOT fit at all. My mind is not right – the problems are panic attacks which limit my ability to fly or to be in other situations. They also stop me from working and it has been this way for over ten years.
This anxiety disorder is a big influence to my pictures. Taking and editing photographs, thinking about concepts, etc. is a) a way to distract me from panic attacks in the moments when they happen and b) it is a way to express the thoughts and feelings and situations connected to this illness.
Ambition or talent: What matters more to success?
I wouldn’t say that I am talented but I think it needs a kind of reason of some sort that drives an artist. (Calling myself an artist is something I never wanted to do.)
If there’s nothing that inspires you there’s no way to keep making art.
And then, if there’s that reason, urge, obsession or talent you also need ambition. Keep doing what you love.
To speak about myself I’d definitely say that I really need to keep making pictures because otherwise I’d go insane.
How politically committed are you?
I think basically it’s first of all important to even vote. This is a major issue. Some many people are annoyed with the results after votings and complaining about what’s wrong when they don’t even voted. This is what makes me angry.
Another issue I care about is what happens with mentally disabled people. They are important to me.
What would you like to own that you don’t currently possess?
Mostly I’m happy with the things I already own. I’d love to own the complete vinyl collection of my favorite band – but there’s no hurry. There are other aspects of my life I’d rather change or have changed than possessing things.
What’s your biggest extravagance?
It was music. But I can’t afford it at the moment. So I wait and see what future brings.
Sometimes I go to concerts.
In what places are you happiest?
Being where my family is. Where people are. The smell of pictures. At home alone watching a film. There are many places where I could be happy. I love Paris although it’s been a long time since I’ve been there. It’s a place where I can breathe (in fact and also metaphorically) – if that makes any sense.
What ambitions do you still have?
Making a second picture book. It was very interesting, impressive and also fun and satisfying to make that first one. It helped me in the daily routine of mostly waiting for the next panic attack.
And exhibitions! I can’t wait for this feeling when meeting new people and talking with them.
Last but not least my health.
What drives you on?
When I was asked about what drives me on back when I was interviewed for the contest which I mentioned above I answered: to explain life and world to the sad ones. Because that’s what I wish that someone would have done that to me.
Now that I know how at least a couple of things work I can try to show others how different situations in life can be seen and that there are ways to express oneself to distract from specific problems.
What is the greatest achievement of your life so far?
One is my picture book. It marked a new stage of what I was doing. And the other important one is when I entered and won that awesome second place in the contest.
What do you find most irritating in other people?
When they are adamant that their view on specific things or issues are the only possible right way to see it. Not being open to other people’s opinions. Fanatics turn me off very much.
If your 20 year old self could see you now, what would he think?
“Why didn’t you learn an instrument properly?! – Well, I am happy anyhow that you have found what makes you happy.“
Which object that you’ve lost do you wish you still had?
I tend to be very careful about things that are important to me. About the rest: what’s gone is gone – never mind.
What is the greatest challenge of our time?
Climate change, of course. And all these dictators ruling countries. I can’t understand how anyone could be cheated that heavy to actually vote for them.
Do you believe in an afterlife?
I wish I could.
If you had to rate your satisfaction with your life so far, out of 10, what would you score?
6 – there’s always space to get better and also I am actually in the process to make it better.
But there are so many who are having a much harder time than I do. So I stop complaining.
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