Benjamin Quaderer studied literary writing in Vienna and Hildesheim. Today he writes various texts. Sometimes they are long and sometimes a little shorter. The first very long one was published in March 2020. It is called ‘Forever the Alps’ and is a novel. Benjamin Quaderer comes from Liechtenstein and currently lives on the outskirts of Berlin. He is 31 years old.
Where and how did you grow up?
I grew up by simply getting bigger and bigger. I did that in Nendeln, Liechtenstein.
Could you describe your professional background?
As a child I liked it very much in Liechtenstein, as a teenager I wanted to leave as soon as possible. Maybe, I sometimes think, when you spend your first few years in such a tiny country you have a different feeling for the size of the world. Maybe it seems bigger from a small country than it does from a big one. At least that was the case for me. I went to Hildesheim and to Vienna to study literary writing, then to Berlin to live there and two months ago I left the city and moved to the outskirts, to a small town that is technically already in Brandenburg. Now I live similarly to the way I did in Liechtenstein, only I have a big city on my doorstep. I have surprised myself by this turn of events.
Were there certain events or situations that were formative for your career?
Not a singular one that I could point out. There were many small moments that strengthened and confirmed me in what I was doing and wanted to do. It can be a kind word after a reading, finishing a text that I like, but above all a certain feeling in the process, in the writing itself. The feeling of following the trail of a hunch. Approaching something that I myself don’t really know what it is. That has remained the case over the years.
Has your environment supported you in your career?
Yes. I am very grateful for that. If it hadn’t been for that, I don’t know if I would be doing what I’m doing today.
What are your current activities?
My first novel has been published in March 2020. I worked on it for a long time. When the text was published, there was no longer a big project that I had to work on every day, as there had been until then. On the other hand there was also a pandemic and everything that was planned for the coming months was cancelled or postponed. That made the last year rather difficult. At the moment I’m busy recovering, working on commissions and wondering what I want to do next.
Does what you are currently doing fulfil you?
Basically yes, but not always to the same level. There are very strong swings, sometimes in one direction and sometimes in the other. But I think that’s the way it should be. Never being fulfilled would be bad. But being fulfilled all the time is probably even worse.
Do you think that you yourself have an influence on whether your activities are fulfilling?
I certainly have an influence on it. I just don’t know how big it is. At first I wanted to say that I don’t have have a strategy to ensure fulfilment. Now I think that my strategy may be that I don’t ask myself this question.
What or who inspires you in everyday life?
Today I saw a man with his trousers down squatting by the tracks in a wood. He was just shitting there. And a dog was sitting next to him. That was perhaps not necessarily inspiring, but very interesting.
What or who gives you strength and energy in everyday life?
A hug. Food. A good conversation.
There are ‘magic moments’ when everything seems to fit. Moments that fulfil, inspire and give strength. Moments that confirm that the effort is worthwhile and that what you do is meaningful and valuable. Have you already experienced such moments in relation to your own activities?
A magic moment is one of complete oblivion of self and the world. A deep absorption. It occurs during the writing process. When it comes I am completely in the text. There, without being there. But I only notice that it was such a moment when it is over. And from then on it’s a matter of creating the next moment of this kind.
Do you actively do something for it, so that such ‘magic’ moments can happen?
Keep at it even if things are not going so well at the moment. Don’t stop. Maybe read something, listen to music, write emails, research, run, but always return to the text.
Are there moments when you doubt what you are doing?
Sometimes it feels like I spend more time doubting than writing. I can’t say that this occurs at certain moments, it’s more that doubts underpin what I do. They are an integral part of my working process. In that I can do no more than endure this situation and not despair about these doubts. For example by reminding myself that there are always moments that outshine them.
In retrospect, can you find something positive in difficult moments?
Without the difficult moments there would be no good moments, without the tragic moments there would be no magic moments.
Is there anything you would do differently in retrospect?
I almost feel a bit too young to answer this question.
Is the recognition of other people or the public important to you?
I wish it weren’t so, but it is. More than recognition, however, I am interested in resonance. Resonance only comes from things that trigger something in a reader. For better or for worse. That is important to me. To trigger an impulse, a reaction. It can be positive or negative, the former being more pleasant, of course. But the worst is a shrug of the shoulders, a ‘very nice’, a kind of indifference.
Is there something you would like to (increasingly) spend time on in the future?
Gardening and beekeeping.
What are you most grateful for in life?
For growing up in an environment that always supported me in what I wanted to do. And for the fact that I can still do that today.
This interview is part of the project ‘Magic Moments’ by Kunstverein Schichtwechsel, in which people are interviewed about their careers, activities and their magical as well as difficult moments.
Curated by Stefani Andersen and Laura Hilti, Kunstverein Schichtwechsel.
Supported by Kulturstiftung Liechtenstein and Stiftung Fürstl. Kommerzienrat Guido Feger.
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