‘Hands and Lives’ – Spotlight interview with Stefan Daiberl

By in Interviews


Stefan is the owner of our current featured website, where you can see more of his diverse practice: http://stefandaiberl.com. He also has an additional website devoted to his fascinating Hands And Lives project, which he talks about in his interview below…

Being an artist

Please give us a few words of introduction about yourself…

I was born in Germany and was trained to be an economist. Now I live in the United States and I am an artist.


Garden of Eden. Various caliber live ammunition and blades on wood panel.

When did you decide to pursue art as a career?

More than a decision it was a gradual development towards what my mind and my body like to do. About 6 years ago I realized that making things gives me happiness.

Did you train in the arts? If so, what and where did you study?

I have no formal art training but have two Master’s degrees in economics.

What has been the high point of your creative career so far?

My solo show “Repentance” at Sibley Gallery in New Orleans.

General Questions

What’s your favourite quote?

“Peace begins when Expectation ends.” –Sri Chinmoy

Do you have a favourite artist? What do you like about their work?

Bruce Nauman for his intellectual accuracy.

Gerhard Richter for his colors and studio processes.

Marina Abramovic for her integrity and rigor.

Tom Sachs for his Ten Bullets.

What Are You Aiming For?

A pure, fully appropriate expression of an important truth, free of any ulterior motives.

How Will You Get There?

By being calm, by being disciplined, by always checking deep inside if something feels right, by making things exactly how I want them without compromise.

Is Anything Holding You Back?

One has to avoid spending time and energy on conflicts and superficial chatter in order to be focused.

You and art

What feelings or reactions do you hope to inspire in people who view your work? Are you ever surprised by reactions that you get?

With my most recent project, Hands & Lives, I have enjoyed providing a meditative visual silence, which allows viewers to wander into an abstract contemplation of life itself.

In the past my work was aimed more at demonstrating the duality of all things: pieces that looked like floral arrangements from the distance revealed themselves to be made of thousands of razorblades, for example.


Hands & Lives: Trey and Hibiscus

What mediums do you prefer to work in, and why?

The medium is a result of the proper materialization of an idea. Some ideas need to be expressed with a pile of rocks. Others with live ammunition.

From start to finish, how long does it take for you to create your work?

My wooden light sculptures take a few months to make; days of wandering through snake infested woods in the summer heat. Other things I make a relatively fast, like my photographic works. But mostly I labor over things for quite a while.

What music do you like to listen to when you work?

I work best in silence. Sometimes I listen to Sigur Ros, Tom Waits or The Cure.

What Are You Working On Next? Any Future Plans Or Projects In The Pipeline That We Should Look Out For?

I am currently working on Hands & Lives, a project in which I am photographing the hands of random people I encounter and at the same time I am audio recording what they tell me about their lives.

I have assembled a library of hundreds of people now. A team of documentary filmmakers are currently working on making a movie about my project. Ultimately there will be a gallery show as well as the film and a print publication.

Being inspired by art

What feelings, subjects or concepts inspire you as an artist?

Suffering, melancholy, longing, purpose, finality, vastness.

Who (Living Or Dead) Inspires You? And Why?

Anyone who tells me a story about life.

Is there a particular place that inspires you?

The 13th century crypt under the Dom cathedral in my hometown of Augsburg, Germany. People have carried their sorrows and joys into this room for hundreds of years and these feelings are stored in the walls there.

What is your favourite work that you’ve produced so far and why?

I think they are all pretty good- I apologize for sounding conceited. I contemplate things for a while before I start building something. I usually like it when it’s done.

An artist’s advice

For those thinking about turning a passion for art into a career, could you give any advice?

Stay with one thing you are talented at and become a total expert. Be known for that thing and tell many people that it is YOU who does that thing.


Palmer House light sculpture 


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