MariFanniMari wears Portland Garment Factory Rain Blazer, OAK Crew Neck Sweater in Fatigue, and OAK Karate Sweatpant
Fanni wears Rick Owens DRKSHDW Combo Exploder Jacket, OAK Long Drop Shoulder Tee in Haze, and OAK Baggy Short in White
Photograph by Justin Fulton

Austrian-born artists Marianne Vlaschits and Fanni Futterknecht (Mari and Fanni to us) were recently working on their ongoing project “Metamorphic Garden” at the Watermill Center in The Hamptons. While the project is a collaborative extension of their “Garden of Lust” video, Mari and Fanni are also accomplished artists on their own. Last week, the two stopped by to talk about their work, how they met and the art scene in Vienna vs. NYC.

OAK: How did you two meet, and how did this collaborative project come to be?
MARIANNE VLASCHITS: We met when Fanni was looking for a roommate and I wanted to move in. I ended up not taking the room but we decided to do a project together instead, because we were interested in very similar topics.
FANNI FUTTERKNECHT: We liked each other but in the end decided not to live together. We got interested into each other’s work at that point and when the opportunity came we decided to do a small performance together. That’s how it began.

OAK: In terms of collaborating on artwork, was there a spark right away? Was it love at first sight?
MV: This is a very romantic concept of art production. I cannot relate to that.
FF: The first collaboration was a year and a half ago and was somehow easier then the second one as we took things lighter and we didn’t aim to create a too huge scale project. It was a good experience.

OAK: Since it’s a collaboration, you obviously get to work with each others’ weaknesses and strengths. How does this take advantage of that situation? Are you able to achieve more or less because of this?
MV: A member of the Watermill staff told me that a collaboration is like a marriage. And a marriage can be fun, but is a lot of work in the first place.
FF: Collaborations are never easy. I usually do not collaborate too much with other visual artists, but rather artists from other fields like music or performance. Sometimes putting your inspirations together can be such a strong experience, and other times it can be more difficult.


OAK: You worked in a garden – “Garden of Lust” – for your first collaboration. Now you are working again on a garden as collaboration. How do they differ? What kind of garden is it this time?
MV: The performance in Watermill was an advancement of “Garden of Lust” but it changed in so many ways that we felt we have to find another title for it. We decided that our work is not anymore about “Lust”, it is about metamorphic objects and the concept of painting in a three-dimensional room.
FF: Actually we are still busy with the same formal topic. Our research, and what we are looking for, became clearer. [But the collaboration] always [revolves] around the garden.

OAK: Tell us about the art scene in Vienna. How has that city influenced your work? How is it different from what you’ve seen in your brief time in New York City?
MV: The art scene in Vienna is much smaller than New York of course, but has a lot of talented, young artists to offer. Also the off-gallery scene is growing every year and they run very amibitious programs. I studied in Vienna and so there must be a great impact on my work. It is hard to say objectively what was there to begin with, and what was shaped by the city.
FF: For me, the Vienna art scene is still rather conventional. I feel that Vienna art is still very much product orientated. I didn’t perceive that so strongly in other European cities, but Vienna is a small city and it has always been associated with culture of classical music and classical theater. I must say though, I am always amazed how many interesting artists you keep bumping into when staying there.

OAK: Would Fanni’s vinyl-clothed masked brother sister duo be friends (or more?) with Mari’s tropical twinks?
MV: If they would stop talking, get undressed and jump into the pool, then yes.
FF: They would defnetely want to jump into the pool as they are funny creatures.


OAK: If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?
MV: Pak Choi.
FF: Mangoes.

OAK: Name an object that you think is ugly.
MV: In the right context, everything can be beautiful.
FF: Hospital interiors.

OAK: Marianne, your video [we saw at Watermill] reminded us of the Birth of Venus, but gay. What was your idea behind it?
MV: The work is about falling in love with an image or an artwork. It’s like falling in love with your own imagination. At the second half of the video, an opera singer enters the scenery and sings a famous aria from Mozarts “Magic Flute”, which is about the moment when prince Tamino sees a painted portrait of the princess Tamina for the first time and immediately falls in love with her. One of the biggests quests in my artwork is the question “Why does imagination always have to be better than the real thing?” “Why are we even capable of imagining things in such an unrealistic, unsatisfiable way?”

OAK: Fanni, what is your obsession with objects, like the ones we saw in your video?
FF: My obsession is more with textiles rather than objects. I like the materiality of things and the haptic impact they can have. I like to experiment with different textures and surfaces and to use them as tools for associations for a bigger meaning. Actually I only started to work with textile objects recently.

Watch “Garden of Lust” by Marianne Vlaschits + Fanni Futterknecht on Vimeo.


EDITORIAL: 05.14.14