The Heroine’s Journey of Gerit Bella Bünnig

What’s the best thing I love about my job? In my job I love the way my relationship to and perception of the world, that I find myself in, is always being reconsidered, as well as the great creative power and freedom that I find within it. Although you can also probably find these qualities in other jobs and activities, I particularly love and recommend Hannah Arendt’s book Vita activa or On Active Life on the subject.

What is my idea of happiness? In German there is a saying: ‘Luck sometimes helps but work always does’. But I think this saying is wrong. Work helps sometimes, or maybe often (deservedly), but luck always helps. When favorable circumstances come together, it is a gift. Happiness comes in all sizes to the delight of all.

What is my biggest fear? Not having found out in time what all my tasks were here 😉

What is the quality I regret most about myself? Sometimes too hasty to judge.

Which living people in my profession do I admire most? This question is a difficult one for me. It is mostly individual artistic works that move and inspire me. For example, Tino Segal, who installed some very interesting performances in the Gropiusbau some time ago. They stayed in my thoughts for a long time. Also Sarah Schönfeld’s photo works on the subject of drugs, All You Can Feel. Florentina Holzinger’s A Divine Comedy – courageous, frightening, stimulating. And paintings by Gerhard Richter – currently a selection of 100 works in the Neue National Galerie. These all also affected me a great deal.

What’s my biggest extravagance? I decided to become a mother at the age of 22 with my first child. This was considered very young, and I had to explain and sometimes defend this decision. Raising children always requires (enormous) willingness to compromise. It was an excellent decision with a lot of potential for growth for me and those around me.

On what occasion would I lie? In case of massive threat. I’ve often asked myself, is omission also a lie? Probably yes.

What do I like least about my work? The irregular income.

When and where was I happiest at work? Right now, I’m on an artist’s residency at Schloss Plueschow, in North Germany. There are excellent facilities and studios here, which enable deep immersion and the development of my practice and topics. But sometimes there are also moments in consultations and coaching that give me a lot of happiness. Or in talks about art in the Berlin State Museums.

If I could, what would I change about myself? Every day I change the behaviors that I find unacceptable in myself. For example, never speak badly of others or never to face the world without humor.

What is my greatest achievement at work? When things take shape and this is a reflection of how I think and feel.

Where would I most like to live? Close to my friends and loved ones. By the sea, in the mountains, between the fields and in the center of the capital.

What is my most valuable possession? A difficult question. Possession requires full power of disposal. Perhaps my most valuable “possession” is my mental and spiritual health. Otherwise maybe a sculpture by my ex-husband, the artist Jan Bünnig.

What is my most distinctive characteristic? Being able to approach people, wanting to think my way into their perspective and the permeability that goes with it.

What is my most inspiring place in my city? Sometimes the HAU or the Volksbühne, the Central and State Library, the Philharmonie, the Berlinische Galerie or the Späti on Chorinerstrasse.

What is my favorite place to eat and drink in my city? There are so many great places to eat in Berlin, but when my French or Italian friends cook for me, I forget all the restaurants in the city.

Which books have influenced my life and how? I thought a lot about Master and Margarita von Bulgakov. A novel with different narrative threads, which, among other things, describes life and work in a totalitarian state (under Stalin) and an arbitrary bureaucracy, but also offers the story of Pontius Pilate during the last days of Jesus – a lot of satire, but also the question of contribution to the world is raised. It affected me and stayed in my thoughts even after I made a fashion collection inspired by it. Rousseau’s Emil or About Education made me think when I was raising my children, but so did Harald Guardian’s What We Are and What We Could Be and Arno Gruen’s Betrayal of the Self. As a German and as a person, Hannah Arendt’s About Evil has brought me a lot further
mentally in the very stressful subject area: 3rd Reich and the persecution of the Jews. Beginnings, a New History of Mankind by Graeber and Wengrow was outstanding for me. Whereby previous assumptions and interpretations on archeological finds and timelines are brought into question.

You only die once. What music would I listen to on my last day? The record Don’t Save Your Wine for Tomorrow by Gerhard Schöne, then Bowie, Einaudi, Home Again by Michael Kiwanuka, I Wonder by Rodriguez, The Light of This World by Gisbert Zu Knyphausen, Heartbeats by José González Francisco Tárrega, Bach for classical guitar and piano, Farid Farjad Golha and then highly dramatic Palestrina Jubilate Deo and Pergolesie Stabat Mater and then I could leave with a lot of goose bumps, melancholy and lust.

Who is my hero or heroine in fiction? Again and again The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.

Who are my heroes and heroines in real life? My bookseller Jörg Braunsdorf, who, despite the limited means, is very adamant about making a very interesting and also political accompanying program of readings and discussions available to his neighbors and customers in his Tucholsky bookshop. Fortunately, the German book trade also occasionally appreciates this. And all people who share justice, courage, gratitude, openness, humanity and compassion with all creatures on this earth.

Which movie would I recommend seeing once in a lifetime? Borat or One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

What role do stories play in my life and work? The narrative element is central in my work.

What do the words “You are the storyteller of your own life” mean to you? Very little. Life is very complex.

Who is my biggest fan, sponsor, accomplice? In my family I find my biggest and most enduring fans, I think.

Which people or companies do I want to work with in 2023/24? Lena Winter, André Schlechtriem, Barbara Thumm, Hanno Hauenstein, Gudny Gudmundsdottir, Kuchling Gallery, Jan C.J. Vermeulen, Alois Herrmann, Johan Holten, Dr. Rolf Lauter, Kristian Jarmuschek

Which project, in 2023, am I looking forward to working on? An extensive book illustration is just finding its way into the world, I am very happy with it. As well as a graphic work on the Ukraine war.

Where can you see me or my work in 2023? Also always on my website:

What do the words “Passion Never Retires” mean to me? I’ve seen very talented and passionate people fail. There is no retirement in passion, but there is an end under unfavorable conditions.

Which creative professionals should Peter invite to tell their story? Lena Winter, André Schlechtriem, Gudny Gudmundsdottir, Sarah Schönfeld, Mona Stehle, Darius Ghanai, Regina Nieke, Lizzy Courage
How can you contact me?

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