Interview with Sebastian: “A candle burning from both sides”

sebastian on bridge

How the world sees me

An interview with Sebastian Fritzsch. Topic: “How the world sees me”. Sebastian is a movie director and a visual artist living in Cologne. We met him on the last day of 2017, went for a walk along the Rhine and talked about how he thinks the world sees him. An interview about autobiographic art, intimacy and dealing with inner censorship. Find links to his movie “Endzeit” (shown during the Berlinale 2013) and other works at the end of this article.

Do you have an idea of how the world sees you?

I believe that it differs quite a bit. People that know me closely and people who don’t know me. Even my friends are surprised about the changes in my emotional state through time and therefore my behavior from one period to another. I was very different five or six years ago than I am today […]. I think that people perceived me as someone full of life, even a bit over the top at times. Like a candle burning from both sides […]. Of course, I am affected by what others think of me, but I don’t want for my actions and my work to be limited or restricted by that.

Is your personality or your essence visible in the products that you create?

At the moment, very much so! I’m working on an exhibition in Dusseldorf in which I will be dealing with spaces of memory. Memories of my childhood, of furniture from my childhood, of a desk that I used to study at during my studies in Berlin. Memories that turn into objects. So it is often about me. But I try not to be praising myself too much or simmer in my own sauce so to speak. It’s more about extracting a certain essence and very archaic moments.

sebastian on phone

How do you feel about becoming a public figure by showing such autobiographical art? We assume that you’re pretty exposed in that context.

Yes, it scares me sometimes. I guess there’s no way around that. I felt uncomfortable with that at times and it still makes me nervous when I tell something very personal because there’s always the danger of becoming too self-indulgent. Of course, I try to work on things that are valid on a much larger scale.

Are there limits to what you are willing to expose through your art?

It depends. There is one of my early works, which I once showed in sort of a basement exhibition space during my studies in Cologne. In that work, I showed a photograph that had been taken of me during my birth. Bloody, a few seconds after my arrival on this planet. I am currently considering whether I should show it again because it’s a very intimate moment and the question is: ‘How do I deal with it? What does it actually say? What does it mean to me?’. It’s some sort of astonishment about the fact that I am here but I don’t know where I’m going. Questioning the beginning and the fact that at one point I won’t exist in the way that I do now. That’s very irritating for me and I guess it would be irritating others too if I were to show that picture again.

sebastian on bridge

Are you censoring yourself in this or is it a censorship which comes from outside?

They both depend on one another. It’s a dialectic process between censorship from within and censorship from the outside world. It’s not political censorship in my case. I don’t feel that. But I do believe that there is a tendency to anticipate reactions and therefore limit yourself more than you’d actually be limited by others.

What causes that?

I personally don’t do that too much. I’m relatively open in that I feel. But when I do (censor myself), it’s often because I wonder what my friends think and what an artwork is developing towards. What does it cause? In those moments it’s, in fact, social standards which limit me. When does an artwork begin to be strong and when does it really start to move something and giving something that speaks its own language. That’s very important for me. A language that adds something to being a human. A way out of alienation and the feeling of being out of one’s self.

Do you believe that you can make good art without being autobiographical?

Generally yes. However, even if I approach a topic in a more general way, I will always be part of it to a certain extent.

sebastian in staircase

Do you exhibit yourself or do you exhibit content when you show your art?

It’s an exhibition of content in the first place. I don’t only mirror myself. Not everything turns around me. That’s not very important for me. Showing my work is very much about entering an interaction and moving in society.

Is there something that people say about you which you disagree with?

Most of the times you won’t even know what others say about you. There are people around me who describe me as being incautious. Even close friends who tell me that I get carried away too easily and live excessively. I might have been like that at times. Obsessions and excess are part of my life in a way. I don’t want to deny that but it’s about the overall proportions. And I do have the ambition to be reflective, emancipated and deep […].

Last question. Is there a quality of yours that you wish was seen more by people around you?

Yes. That I am searching for my place in this world. That essentially, I am a very loving person as well as needy for love. That I find it hard to live in a society in which people use their elbows more and more to claim their place […].

sebastian at the river


About Sebastian

Place of Birth: Cologne
Parents: Mother Gabriele (special pedagogue, mother, passed away 3,5 years ago), father Gerhard (cardiologist)
Siblings: Youngest sister Wilhelmina (pre-school teacher), Frederik (Bioengineer developing machines to treat cancer for instance), Anna (teacher of arts and mathematics)
Study/Profession: Movie director and visual artist (studied in Berlin, Leipzig and Cologne)
Age: 40
Nationality: German
Relationship status: Single
Romantic or realistic? Very romantic. Almost too much but it’s nice being romantic. It gives me energy for the realism that I have to face at times. However, now it’s all about being realistic. I am 40 now (laughs)
How many Facebook friends do you have? Around 1000
Adventure or Stability? My natural disposition: Adventure
Coffee or Tea? Coffee in the morning, tea at night
My favorite spot in the world: The cinema
If I were a bitterbal, I’d be filled with… myself
Sitting on a mangotree feels like… it’s giving me wings

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