In The Studio: Jasmina Cibic, artist

'I didn't know how to make films, so I taught myself: but that's what artists do'

Click to follow
The Independent Culture

Jasmina Cibic only recently moved into her glamorous studio in Stoke Newington. Before that, her work was in storage or in the "depot" she still keeps in Ljubljana, Slovenia, where she was born in 1979.

Cibic will be representing her country in the Slovenian Pavilion at the forthcoming Venice Biennale. She laughs, recalling that she attended the press launch by curator Massimiliano Gioni and he said that a "well country" assigns its pavilion two years ahead: she was told three months ago that she was the solo artist.

As is usual in her practice, Cibic has chosen to make her Venetian installation in collaboration with a number of makers and thinkers.

The acknowledged star of the show will be "the Hitler bug", a creature that has never been seen. Cibic contacted over 40 international scientists and illustrators, asking them to draw the bug as they imagined it. The resulting designs will be screened on to wallpaper and fabrics.

Having left Ljubljana, "where the academies were in a bad way", Cibic moved first to Venice, studying there and becoming part of a group of four female performative artists exploring, not surprisingly, questions relating to borders. She chose then to move to Goldsmiths, London, where she was encouraged, or as she describes it "ordered", into "embracing my otherness".

The building we are in is designed by Sarah Featherstone, and Cibic's elegant studio is the basement, a space she rents from her partner, photographer Paul Moss, whom she met while she was studying at Goldsmiths. It is clearly bespoke, from its elegant façade to the rather tortuous stairway.

"I am still reconnecting with work that has been stored away," she says, gesturing at the photographs of birds from a falcon series she did, near her mounted two-headed pigeon, and some other examples of taxidermy: "I bought those in Essex from men with bullmastiffs." She decided to move towards live examples, now filming falconers at work. "I did not know how to make films, so I taught myself: but that is what artists do. They learn how to do things they need to do."

I ask how long Cibic will continue to embrace her "otherness", as she is now firmly based in London with a small daughter. She admits to the fact that many of her opportunities are still rooted in the East. She is interested in the modernism that exists in Slovenia, telling me that she found the script for her Venice film project – about Tito's modernist architect Vinko Glanz – in a shopping trolley in a defunct building.

And she traces her interest in taxidermy to her grandfather, who was a hunter and whose trophies she has used in her work. She gestures towards some pictures on the wall: "And where else could I get the state police band to perform in an airport? Not at Stansted surely?"

Jasmina Cibic: For Our Economy and Culture, Slovenian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale ( 1 June to 24 November