robert adler.

« Everybody is their own god ».

facebook : eccentricrobrobertadlerbloggt / twitter : @eccentricrob

Robert Adler, who is this gifted person ?

You know, I usually don’t like to talk about myself often because of the pretentiousness that automatically goes with it. So many artists like to put themselves in the center of attention to feed their ego while neglecting the importance of their own work to speak for itself. I think this is the death of art in some ways. I never explain anything. I don’t like to give answers because I feel that art is a question mark. Furthermore, explanations and analysis are killing creativity – in my opinion, really good art comes from the subconscious. But I’m full of contradictions, so here we go…

Who am I ? Am I the same person as yesterday? Who will I be tomorrow ? Haha, now I feel reminded of that one scene with the hookah-smoking Caterpillar in « Alice in Wonderland », where she struggles to answer him properly. I have many odd hobbies and one of them is to collect illustrations of the « Alice » books by Lewis Carroll from illustrators all over the world; I recently got a wonderful version/edition by Benjamin Lacombe, I think he is amazing. It’s funny how children books often reflect grown-up reality.

Anyway, now back to your question: It’s a secret, perhaps. I am… a mystery. And I would like to remain as such – for myself, as well as for others. Nobody, including myself, will ever fully understand probably, but that’s okay.

I think we all have at least as many social selves as there are individuals who are able to recognize us. So I guess you could say: I’m not just one, I’m many. Damn, now that sounds pretty f*cking pretentious – ha-ha.

Seems like everyone of us is contradictory in some way or another…

Absolutely, I do think so. In the past I used to learn a lot about Zen and Buddhism, but I think it kind of lacks a positive interpretation of ego and self as it can be found in some strains of western philosophy and psychology. I believe the right balance in life is the key to health and happiness – the ego is not the enemy, pure altruism not the goal. From what I understand, the ego serves only as a vehicle to transmit unconscious contents into the environment, in a very fragmented and selective way leading to repression. An ego will never identify itself with its repressed contents which already means that one’s full identity remains obscured as long as there’s an identification going on with that ego. It’s just the conscious unit of our personality but our individuality embraces everything the ego ordinarily serves to control.

Furthermore, if you take great philosophers with drastically opposing world views, like… take Ayn Rand versus Karl Marx, for example. I mean, you can learn so much from them and they certainly had an important impact. Despite this, I think they both have immense problems with nuance, variance, subtlety, gradation and just « sliding scales » in things. These absolutions, generalizations and simplifications of just partial truths and incomplete knowledge can be utterly harmful in my view. It’s like sciolism. My own worldviews aren’t static.

Rand’s logicism or objectivism was like the anti-thesis of Marx’s « Das Kapital »; her books like « Atlas Shrugged » are still seen as controversial. She was a total b*tch, her aim was admirable though. But the point is, theirs and others thinking pits only two opposing sides: rationality or irrationality. You are either one or the other. You cannot be both. Similarly, when it comes to how humans treat one another, there’s only selfishness or utilitarianism. And when we organize ourselves in groups: individualism or collectivism.

But humans are neither of those things. Well… At least, not all the time. People refuse to acknowledge the possibility of alternatives — we are neither a rational nor an irrational being, but an emotional one. We are neither selfish nor altruistic, but cooperative. We group ourselves not individually or collectively, but tribally. The universe bears more than just black & white, it’s actually multi-coloured. We would like all things to be easy, but it’s so much more complex and complicated – we should all just learn to embrace our own paradoxes.

Are you religious ?

It’s all relative. I believe in love. I view myself as a secular humanist, anti-theist, rationalist and sceptic; so I’m a freethinker, infidel or agnostic atheist, although I do view myself to be spiritual in a way as well. Guess you could say my religion is art, if that makes any sense. I’m in veneration of life, nature, with cultures and the whole universe, so maybe you could also view it as pantheism if you want/like, but it depends on the subjective definition and the individual interpretation of it, I guess. I have many religious friends who are very smart and I do respect their beliefs. What I hate is indoctrination ; the influence of institutionalized or organized religion on government is vast. I loathe false promises, dogmas, peer pressure & heteronomy, conservatism, fundamentalism and all that… That’s why I’m highly critical of religion, as well as esotericism/esoterism, pseudoscience, conspiracy theorists, certain new age philosophies and alternative or non-conventional medicine like homeopathy, although I love the placebo effect and believe it can be quite strong and useful, so again it’s complex and complicated. There’s a book called « Waking Up » by Sam Harris – it offers a different guide to this subject, which I like.

It’s kind of funny though how scientists react to spirituality, mysticism, and the paranormal. There is nothing irrational about seeking the states of mind that lie at the core of many religions. Compassion, awe, devotion and feelings of oneness are surely among the most valuable experiences a person can have. I will always enjoy mindfulness and meditation. It’s all about consciousness and which state of mind you are in. Essentially, I’m a selfist, I believe that god is one’s self. Everbody should worship themselves.

How much have you evolved over the years – both as an artist and as a person ? What are you planning next ?

Great question, but hard to answer. That’s so difficult to explain, since my life is such a mess. Hhmm… *pauses* I think quite much, I’ve changed a lot – at least that’s what I hope for. I absolutely hated myself for the longest time, loathed my whole appearance and eccentric behaviour and tried to change me in every way possible or imaginable.

I might be a bit psychotic. I was always a weird outsider and never « fitted in »; I’m afraid I don’t make any sense to people, because I’m so different. I’m also possibly pansexual or something, but I rarely talk about it. I’m perceived as a freak and a geek, as a nerd and quite absurd. I’m sort of embarrassed to tell, but I was heavily bullied and teased in school over the course of many years and beside this there were some other heavy problems and private conflicts as well that I would rather prefer to not talk about; I haven’t told anyone and was very isolated and almost traumatized. I had no friends and never defended myself or fought back at that period and as a result, I kept struggling with depression, mental breakdowns, suicidal thoughts and social anxiety over and over again. People kept exploiting me and my benevolence. Whether you like it or not or want to admit it or not, in a way, such experiences stick with you and shape you as a person. However, it’s unbelievable silly to live in the past and self-pity is highly destructive. It’s important to doubt, it’s important to be self-critical – but don’t lose yourself and your sense of value.

My advice is this : Don’t let yourself be victimized. Put your self-doubts and insecurities in an envelope. And when you need drive, fan yourself with it.

Your artworks also reflect that ?

Art saved me in a way; it’s a bit of escapism for my fans as well as for me. So my suggestion would be the whole « Don’t try to find yourself, create yourself »-principle. I think it was Salvador Dalí who used to say « If you think you are genius long enough, you will eventually become a genius. » But of course, actions always speak louder than words. Most people seem to be slaves to their own dream world and that’s tragic – get your ass up and work extremely hard if you want to achieve something! Nothing is handed to you in life, you really have to earn it. So leave your comfort zone and go, go, go! *smiles*

You can look at life with a closed mind, or open your mind to all of the possibilities ahead of you. Everything you do is a choice, chose to accept your next step as an adventure.

The biggest prison is to not believe in yourself. If you don’t believe in yourself, who else will? You only have this one single life. Do not waste it with doubt. At the end of the day the things you haven’t done won’t count. Live!!! And just don’t give a f*ck.

This is what I would suggest. So… I keep trying, exploring, experimenting and learning. Artistic-wise, I’m not « there » yet – I honestly don’t know if anything I’ve ever done so far is any good. But I’m not sure if that even matters. I think what matters is that it’s there. The potential is there. And the direction is there. And chaos can be beautiful. It might feel lost, but right now I’m more process-oriented than goal-oriented. But it will shift, eventually. Yes, I think it will – that’s what I hope for. I will make it shift and it’s gonna be absolutely brilliant. The best things are yet to come! Get ready and be prepared. The point is… Whenever I think I’ve finally found the meaning of life, it is already elsewhere. *laughs* I feel like I still haven’t found what I’m looking for, but I strongly believe in the person I want to become in the future, if that makes any sense. I’m not afraid of dying, I’m afraid of not having lived truly and intense enough. You could say my biggest fear is to never be what I could have been, so to speak… Personally, I believe death isn’t bad at all, it’s living without a reason that’s unbearable.

Do you have any regrets ?

Truthfully, yes. Actually, if I could live my life again, I would do everything in a completely, totally different way, but of course that option isn’t possible, obviously.

So my answer is this: No. Just don’t think about it, just forget it please. Life is way too short for regrets. You can only learn from the past, live in the moment and dream of the future.

Drawing, writing, sculpturing, photography, digital retouching, painting… Is there another artistic discipline which you would like to try ?

Oh yes, definitely – sooo many! I haven’t explored the subject of music that much yet. A few years ago I’ve tried to do remixes and stuff and wrote
some songs, raps and poems, but they are too awful, I would be too ashamed to release them to be honest. I love all sorts of completely different musical genres and styles, that’s why I get easily attached to a melody or lyric.

Recently I’ve discovered ASMR on Youtube and « Binaural Holophonic 3D Audio Sound » – that’s awesome, but it only works with headphones or earbuds. Imagine something like that in a museum fused with high definition 3D imagery content or something else, I think it would be breathtaking.

I love theatre and performance art. I would like to do more videos and experimental films, since I’m also a movie buff and cinema enthusiast. I like visual installations by artists like Jillian Mayer, Pipilotti Rist or Mika Rottenberg, they inspire me. I always highly admired directors and filmmakers like Jan Švankmajer, so using different types of animation and mixing them together to one medium could be an interesting approach for my works as well.

Which artists are you favourite ?

There are sooo many, the list is way too long.

But I will say that I do love polarizing and controversial artists the most. People like Oliviero Toscani, who make political statements.

I remember Maurizio Cattelan once said « Provocations are like a Molotov cocktail ». That’s so true, it’s so simple and so effective. Of course, the backlash can be huge. But believe me, if half of the world doesn’t hate you, you are doing something wrong. « Any press is good press », so give your audience something to talk about! Just don’t be boring, please.

At nine years, you self-published your first short story « The Weatherfox » ; please explain…

As a child, I intended to work some day as an entomologist, astronaut, marine biologist or farmer. I was obsessed with nature and technology, collected snails and insects in the garden of my parents’ home and read biology books the whole day. So it was all about reality, proving facts and having evidence. But there was also another side in my brain: a rather chaotic one. I’m actually naturally left-handed, but I was forced as a child to write with my right hand, that could be the reason.

I guess you could say, I always tried to aim for both – logic and absurdity. That’s why I also loved fantasy- my own grotesque imagination and reading bizarre stories, where everything is possible and nothing is impossible. That’s why I also highly enjoyed reading fantastic fables, myths, folk tales and fairy tales. At one point, I began to write my own fairy stories and fantastic tales. I also worked as a ghost-writer and have served as an « idea provider » for others. I never ever received any kind of reclaim or money for it, but it was fun. I also wrote and illustrated a book for kids some years later, « The Planet of Cats »; but it was so bad and therefore never became a huge success. I believe it’s still available to order on Amazon, though – haha.

You already worked as a media designer, printmaker and commercial artist ?

Not exactly. I was just a threshold worker. Only unpaid internships, commission jobs and practicums/practica at advertising agencies and freelance companies. Unfortunately I never ever received one single cent for all the work, they don’t pay you as trainee or student apprentice here, but I don’t mind anymore because it didn’t satisfy me anyway. You know, the difference between a designer and an artist is – as a graphic designer, you follow the principle : « Don’t make me think ». As an artist, you follow the principle : « Make me think! »

I want to have full creative freedom and control over my own ideas, I’m an anarchist.

There are incredible graphic artists like Stefan Sagmeister or Chip Kidd which I truly admire, but sadly nowadays most I know personally here are too mainstream and afraid of to break the rules; these days it’s just all about money, marketing and manipulating the consumer and I don’t like that at all – same goes for the art market world by the way, it’s like any other form of market. It clearly lacks soul and substance for me. Don’t compromise, unless you want to prostitute yourself.

I don’t judge, but personally, I only want to promote things and stuff I believe in! But don’t get me wrong, I understand how desperate creative people are to make money and earn things for a living- we all have to eat and live. We all have to survive in a capitalistic world and it’s highly frustrating and devastating. It’s a sh*tty economic state right now, hard times – for us artists and just everyone.

Austria seems like a beautiful place !

It is. It really is. I love the landscapes and architecture and the smell of fresh air here that arrives after the rain.

I’ve heard there is a revote in Austria regarding the presidential elections ?

Yeah, gosh it’s so annoying. The right-wing populists and extremists get stronger and stronger here, just like elsewhere in Europe and the whole world, I don’t want to believe it. Aside from that, wars, poverty and terrorism everywhere – it’s like two different sides from the same coin. People apparently seem to believe that one could fight religious fundamentalism with political extremism. I understand there are many problems and I can relate to the fears, but nobody thinks about the importance of proper socialization. Successful integration requires lots of empathy and determination. It’s outrageous, refugees are treated as inferior here, it makes me SO angry! And also sad. We can all learn from each other. I want to live in a society where everyone – every single human being – is equal and also treated as such. Egalitarianism is not at all difficult to achieve.

Honestly, humans’ lack of intelligence and responsiveness is one of the biggest problems on this planet. Racism, xenophobia, antisemitism, islamophobia, sexism, homophobia, lookism and so forth… There seems to be endlessly much violence, hate, shallowness, discrimination and ignorance everywhere all over the globe, I just don’t get it. Why?! Just why??? Life is so f*cking short and so many waste it with their incredible amount of stupidity and lack of love and compassion, what the f*ck is wrong with them, I will never ever be able to understand. Your awful childhood or job that sucks or your unhappy relationship or whatever is no excuse for your intolerance and idiocy. F*ck them, seriously. If there is one thing I hate, it’s hatred itself.

Let’s talk about photography, what equipment do you have ?

Canon EOS 70D and Sony Alpha 290, my first DSLRs. Beforehand I photographed with a cheap Kodak Easyshare compact camera.

Mind you, I’m still no expert and can’t afford really professional equipment yet.

I don’t believe art is possible without craft, but I’m not a craftsman or photographer – not in the sense that someone like Martin Schoeller is. I know how to use my gear, and I use a camera as my primary tool when I create my work, but my stuff is growing increasingly more conceptual, and my skills are built around what I need.

Personally, I have a weakness for your blacks and whites, I think they are more intense than your color ones. It feels to me like we get plunged all at once into your universe. Please explain to us how you work.

Wow, thank you so much! Many thanks, that’s a huge huge compliment for me, I really appreciate it – thanks a lot!

The truth is, it happened by chance – it was a completely spontaneously move. I just got so sick of color and suddenly, I began to really like the minimalistic and simplistic look of it – it’s like the whole atmosphere becomes way more intense just because of the gray scales and shades. No editing, no pre-visualizing, no light arrangement, nothing. Banal and trivial things suddenly seem to appear way more interesting and deeper. The whole feeling to it becomes something else, it’s fascinating. I really love it. There’s no real concept behind it – I just snap what I like and how my eyes see it and suddenly, it appears in a way no one has ever seen it before.

Is there an evolution of your approach when you photograph a portrait, a scene, an attitude, animals, etc. ?

It really depends. Sometimes there is and sometimes there isn’t.

On some days I have a clear picture or concept already in my head and I just do it exactly how I imagined and planned it to be. Other times, something magically happens « by accident » or intuition. Sometimes it’s just luck or coincidence, other times lots of preparation and dedication. But yeah, often a photograph turns out to be completely different – and often for the better.

Do you « photoshop » all your photos ?

No, not at all. It also depends on what I’m trying to create and want to say with a certain image. But digital correction and manipulation can be quite enjoyable. I just think people should use it more often as a tool to express their message, not vice versa.

You want to evolve in a « surrealist » world, is that right ?

Yes, I guess you can put it that way – but the question is: what is real and what’s not, can we be so sure? Guess it depends on the point of view.

What’s the craziest thing you have ever done ?

There are quite a few unusual things I did, so you might perceive them as « crazy ». (laughs)

Let me think… Josephine Baker was quoted saying nudity doesn’t have to be nakedness. So I remember once standing alone in the woods for about an hour without having any clothes on, except my eyes were blindfolded. I stole that idea from Lady Gaga when she did a workshop with Marina Abramovic to study her methods and overcome her weed addiction. So I was there in the forest and just listening to the sounds around me and feeling the ground under my feet.

At first I enjoyed it, it felt completely natural and I never felt more human and normal, it’s great for therapy and you become so focused and energized.

So it worked, but then it came to my mind that someone could see me and you know I have the worst inferiority complexes about my body and face. I’m tall, but I look much younger than 23, people assume I’m only 16. Nature made me scrawny and awkward-looking, non-muscular and unmanly shaped, I look so unhealthy skinny and have a strange bone structure, weak shoulders and suffer from scoliosis; everything is so asymmetrical and weird. Anyway, so that came to my mind. And then I was thinking what if a tick bites on my penis or something. And all these thoughts just terrified me. So it began as a fascinating experience but about after an hour my insecure thoughts closed my mindset and it made me distraught and I just ran away. But I do recommend it to everyone! Be nude, go naked in the woods. It makes you feel so alive, full of energy and calm and grounded at the same time.

But don’t think too much while doing it, that’s really important – just feel.

One day with Robert would be like ?

Either annoying or boring. No, I hope not of course – just kidding. It’s easy for me to make new friends and « meet » new experiences, so you would get lots of childish, ridiculous fun with me as well as deep conversations; I love adventures, but also can hang around with others for hours and just enjoy being alive and present and living in the moment with them. I’m afraid no single day with me would be the same way twice – sometimes I’m quite outgoing, but also a little bit shy. Whenever I meet new people, I’m kinda introverted at first, but I become sorta extroverted after a while, so get ready to be surprised.

If I tell you « autopsiart », you answer.

A very inspirational and passionate magazine/platform that is able to unite creative minds all over the world.

The future…

is what you make it. Someday it might be already too late! Don’t waste your time and act NOW.

What is the question I haven’t asked that you would like to answer ?

Is Disneyland a people trap operated by a mouse ?