zweintopf | Seeking that characteristic element of absurdity inherent to every human endeavour.
Eva Pichler and Gerhard Pichler together form the artistic duo zweintopf that we connected with over “A playground guide to getting lost” curated by Lina Albrikiene in a group show at the Neue Galerie Graz in the Joanneumsviertel.
We were thrilled when they accepted to do a feature with us.
zweintopf was founded by Eva Pichler (*1981) and Gerhard Pichler (*1980) as an artist duo in 2006 in Graz/Austria and is active both in classical exhibition settings and in public space.
Alongside site-specific installations, objects and videos, their work involves the development of ideas realised as art in public space or in the form of unannounced interventions.
While in our bustling daily routines an allegedly inescapable „as soon as possible-mentality” is established zweintopf are working consistently on their poetry of trivial things.
The artist duo is screening codes and symbols of the ordinary, the public – always in search for that characteristic element of absurdity which is inherent to every human endeavour.
None of the works shown in public spaces are installed, they are on-site interventions. For example, Road to Nowhere is an ordered wallpaper | Video credit zweintopf
Interview questions zweintopf
Thank you for accepting our invitation.
Thank you for inviting us!
Please shortly introduce yourselves and tell us a bit about the main theme behind the work you shared with us for this feature.
We are zweintopf – Eva Pichler and Gerhard Pichler – an artist duo working together since 2006 in a lot of different fields.
In our work we are active both in classical exhibition settings and in public space.
Alongside site-specific installations, objects and videos, our work involves the development of ideas realised as art in public space or in the form of unannounced interventions.
We are also curating a lot – during the last five years we were responsible for the visual arts program at FORUM STADTPARK in Graz.
You are an artist duo. How did you decide to start working together?
We became a couple before we started to work together.
We met in Graz when we were both students – but we did not study art. Gerhard wanted to become an architect and Eva was studying art history at that time.
But we were part of a group of enthusiastic students and started to organize special installations and theme parties.
In the end this group split up and we worked on together in a more professional way - and with the new name “zweintopf”.
In the beginning it was all learning by doing, but a lot of people liked our way of looking at things and invited us for new projects.
So we kept going!
Do you work at the same time and together or do you have times when you work separately and then come together?
Working together as a duo is a lot about discussing.
In the end we develop all our concepts together, there are no separate artworks.
One could say thinking is together and working is separately – in an internal division of responsibilities – everybody has his strengths and weaknesses, preferences and aversions and so we try to make the best of it…
If someone has never seen your work, how would you describe what you are doing?
If we had to find an “ism” we would say it is Neo-Trash-Concept-Consumism.
We like to use materials and phenomena that are already there.
It is a lot about rearranging, adapting and by this finding new meanings.
There is one sentence we always use for describing our approach:
While in our bustling daily routines an allegedly inescapable „as soon as possible-mentality” has been established zweintopf are working consistently on their poetry of trivial things, screening codes and symbols of the ordinary, the public – always in search for that characteristic element of absurdity which is inherent to every human endeavour.
Absurdity in the end is definitely our common thread.
How would you translate your name into English? Or how would you explain your name to someone who does not speak German?
The name is a word play in German which we invented.
If you translate it – you could probably say: two in one pot, or two in a stew.
A lot of German people tell us the name sounds totally Austrian.
For us that is really ok.
What is a work day like? Do you have fixed times when you work? Any kind of meetings to coordinate or plan artworks and projects?
We work all day round, also on weekends, sometimes even in our dreams.
But for us working and living goes together.
We do not divide things up. And we try to deny the word leisure.
But as we share not only our way of producing artworks but also a household, a garden, a small farm with some animals, meadows and woodland there are all different forms of works.
For us every work has the same value and it has to be done by one of us.
In the end everything goes together: A holistic idea of living and sharing the personal time and power of two individuals.
You live in the countryside in Styria, did you ever live in a city, or do you plan to?
We lived in Graz for 13 years before we decided to move to the country about ten years ago.
In the hills and woods in the region of Southeastern Styria we found a small farm that is perfect for us.
This decision was all about bringing living and working together and to have enough spaces for storage, for different workshops and for living with animals.
If you compare working and living in the countryside to living and working in a city what do you think are the main positive and what the main negative aspects?
We found no negative aspects on the countryside yet.
It is the perfect way of living – spending a lot of time outside – having a lot of freedom in working.
For exhibitions one has to travel anyway…
What are the top 5 songs on your playlist when you work now?
Porridge Radio - Go Away Black Country New Roads - Snow Globes Deafheaven - Honeycomb Zeal and Ardor - Run Dry Cleaning - More Big Birds
Eva + Gerhard
Sparklehorse - Eyepennies
Neil Young - Pocahontas
Okkervil River - The velocity of Saul at the time of his conversion
Siskiyou – What if
Gillian Welch – Hard Times
Did the pandemic leave a mark on your work? Were you more productive during this time of seclusion?
Our curatorial work at FORUM STADTPARK was very challenging during the pandemic with all the postponing and consoling the different artists.
For our personal work we do not have the feeling that so much has changed as we lived and worked a bit out of the world anyway.
Do you have any rituals when you work?
We came to the clue that our rituals are the regular meals during the day…
Eva loves to cook and bake and of course we harvest a lot of vegetables and fruits from our farm that need to be consumed or preserved.
And the dining table is also a point of coming together and again discussing our projects in a comfortable way.
Could you tell us a bit about the project to do with the image above Skulptur mit männlicher Statue
This work is from a series called “Sculture with…“ where we work with already existing sculptures in public space – most of it is so called art on architecture from the 60ies and 70ies – and we try to add things to brighten up the meaning of the sculpture.
In this example there is a monk standing high up on the façade of an old residential building and in his hands he is protecting a house.
So it is very symbolic already.
And we decided to bring in a globe to widen the view of what is to be protected.
The “making of” was quite tricky, it was high up on the building and maybe in the picture you also see the rosebush on the one side – so our helium balloon was blown into this spiky bush for several times and did not survive it…
Any upcoming project you are working on 2022?
We are currently working on a curatorial project with the art collection of the city of Graz.
The idea is to bring around 100 different art works from the collection into a very humorous setting of small art spaces in public space such as party tents, Christmas punch stands, containers and even mobile toilets.
More a funky funfair than an exhibition.
The project is called misc. and takes place from 2nd to 12th of July at Karmeliterplatz in Graz.
And it is possible to follow the development of the project on Instagram @misc_zweintopf
How important is Instagram for you as artists?
We use Instagram since one year now – so it is quite a new tool for us – but we like the idea to find a wider and more diverse audience than on facebook and we will see where it leads us to in the future.
Thank you so much for your time. Is there anything else you would like to share?
In 2015 we founded the Initiative Kunstverleih – it is an art sharing project where we offer the works of more than 30 Styrian artists to rent it for one year.
It is affordable option to live with art in your private space.
Every year we host special speed dating events – the artist get together with future lenders, to get to know each other in a playful way.
So over the years Initiative Kunstverleih became a lively network of different art lovers of all ages!
2nd july - 12th july, misc. zweintopf und die Sammlung der Stadt Graz, Karmeliterplatz Graz
till 1st november, group exhibion, Steirische Wurzeln - Spurensuche in der Sammlung Gegenwartskunst, Stift Admont
till 6th june 2022 , group exhibition, Förderungspreis des Landes Steiermark für zeitgenössische bildende Kunst 2021, Neue Galerie Graz
Exhibitions – the last three years: 2022
Steirische Wurzeln - Spurensuche in der Sammlung Gegenwartskunst, Stift Admont
A Playground Guide to Getting Lost, Neue Galerie Graz LOSS_expands – coping with grief by hoelb/hoeb, brut Wien
Unter jedem Dach ein Ach, Galerie Zimmermann Kratochwill (solo)
Numen/Lumen, Kunstquadrat, Pfarrkirche Maria Saal STEIERMARK SCHAU, mobiler Pavillon - Wien, Hartberg, Spielberg, Schladming, Bad Radkersburg
2020 Pullfaktor, Bad Eisenkappel/Železna Kapla, Klagenfurt/Celovec, St. Johann im Rosental/Šentjanž v Rožu l, UNIKUM Platz des Gedenkens, Gemeinde Bleiburg Freedom will be an episode …, Austrian Cultural Forum New York, USA COUNTER:MOVEMENT / GEGEN:BEWEGUNG, Match Gallery Ljubljana, SLO
Awards and grants
2022 Austrian State Scholarship for Fine Arts
2021 Scholarship for Visual Art, Provincial Government Styria
2020 foreign exchange scholarship City of Graz for Czech Republic 2015 nomination Kardinal König Kunstpreis 2012 Art Award of the City Graz 2010 Contemporary Art Prize of the Diocese Graz-Seckau