Sofie Bird Møller is an artist by heart. She is famous for her collages, in which she mixes ads from fashion magazines with excessive brushing and painting. Originally from outside Copenhagen, she came to Germany in 1999 and since 2006 has been living in Berlin. She quickly fell in love with the city and has made it into her new home – even though her boyfriend, and father of her son Oskar, who is now 5, still lives in Munich. Before I met Sofie, I wondered how being an artist and a mother would fit together – perhaps not so easily, I thought! But, as sometimes only a mother can do, she has found a way to mix the two roles together. We visited her at her apartment and studio in Kreuzberg.
Sofie Bird Møller ist Künstlerin von ganzem Herzen. Bekannt geworden ist sie durch ihre Collagen, für die sie Werbungen aus Modezeitschriften exzessiv verändert. Aufgewachsen in der Nähe von Kopenhagen, zog es sie schon früh nach Deutschland, seit 2006 ist sie in Berlin verwurzelt, es gab nur einen kleinen Zwischenstopp in London. Sofie liebt Berlin so sehr, dass sie sich entschied, zu bleiben. Obwohl ihr Freund und der Vater von Sohn Oskar (heute fünf Jahre alt) immer noch in München lebt. Mutter sein als Künstlerin – das hat für mich irgendwie nie zusammen gepasst, bis ich Sofie traf! Sie mischt beide Rollen mit Leichtigkeit. Wir haben sie in ihrer Wohnung und in ihrem Studio in Kreuzberg besucht.
Dieses Interview ist vorerst nur auf Englisch verfügbar.
You are originally from Denmark, how did you end up in Germany?
I needed to get away from where I come from to be able to see things in a clearer way. I started up in Munich where I had applied for the Academy of Fine Arts and got accepted right away. I was lonely in the beginning, but in a way I always needed a lot of time to myself. So I painted, painted and painted some more.
How would you describe what you do?
I change an already existing material, old or new, that usually has to do with mass communication and replace the person, car or other with a gesture that is slowly done but radically changes the motive.
You live in Kreuzberg, what do you like about it there?
I love Kreuzberg. It is my home today. The feeling of this area is one of openness; it leaves space for new thoughts in my mind. It is not as gentrified as other areas yet, and I think it is healthy to live in a multicultural community. There is music everywhere.
How did becoming a mother influence your work?
I gave birth to Oskar about 5 years ago, and it didn’t have a direct influence on my work, but I became much, much more disciplined, and I work from the moment Oskar goes to Kindergarten until I pick him up. I have never been working so much in my entire life, creating so much work. I became much more focused, and the daily routine that is forced upon you I used for the positive, to work from 9 o’clock to 16 o’clock, which I never did before. Maybe I became calmer, and more down to earth.
So being a mother made you more efficient?
Oh, yes! Time used to be more abstract, so it didn’t matter if you took a ‘creative break’ but today I only have so and so many hours to work in: sometimes I wish that I could work longer, in the evenings, but I get everything done in time. No problem.
Artists are usually very independent people – how does this go along with motherhood?
Very, very difficult. It is still possible to be independent, but you have to follow some rules, and as you love your child more than yourself, you even start to like some of the rules, or restrictions that come with having a child. I am a somewhat introverted person, so I don’t mind the many evenings at home. Good time to think, or just relax.
What if you have to travel for work, do you just take him with you?
It depends on the situation. If it is not putting up a show but just seeing a particular show, I take him with me. If it is about talking to curators in another city or putting up a show I either have a very good friend that takes care of him, for, say, a day, maybe two. But if it is longer I have to travel to Munich, to hand over to my boyfriend, Oskar’s father and then go where I have to go, and then vice versa afterwards. Can be tough. That happens a couple of times a year, so it is ok.
How was the first year with Oskar?
Extremely hard. Oskar was enormously demanding and I had an important solo show when he was just three months, so I basically did this show during the times, when he was sleeping. Crazy. Twice a day, maybe 1 1/2 hours and in the evening.
Wow! When you say he was demanding, how long was this ‘phase’?
Oh, what is he now, 5? No, of course he changed a lot. I would say the first two years where very exhausting! Then he realised that it is nice to look at pictures in books. Today it is Lego, Lego, Lego. You just have to stay firm: Entertainment does not just happen through the parents.
Your boyfriend is artist Alexander Laner, and he lives in Munich – how do you manage to keep up your relationship?
We are actually very happy, we would like to live in the same city but we have different views on that, but in one year Oskar goes to school and a decision will have to be made. It will be tough for one of us.
How would you describe your son?
Strong willed, stubborn, generous. Oh, and intense!
Any features from yourself or the father that you see in him?
Well actually, Lana and I find ourselves more relaxed and creative than our son. I thought it was supposed to be the other way around, ha-ha. But he is stubborn, goodness he is, and he won’t budge a second. He has that from me, unfortunately. Giving in just a little bit helps a bad situation to become better. But it also gives strength to continue with something until the bitter end, and he is clearly, very focused – already at the age of 5. School is ok this year, I think.
What is the most annoying part of motherhood?
THE ROUTINE, getting up every morning at a certain time, I never sleep late. Then working, only until exactly 4 o’clock – never later. It is wonderful for an artist to work until evening and leave the studio happy and exhausted. I love to work! Also organising to be able to fly to the show. As I said before, then I have to take Oskar to Munich, and then continue my travelling to the show, which takes some energy, and the same thing on the way back. Stressful and expensive.
And what is the best part?
Oskar, Oskar, Oskar, and being parents with my beautiful boyfriend.
Thank you, Sofie!
Find more about Sofie and her art here!
Sofie Bird Møller and Oskar (5), September 2013
Interview: Isabel Robles Salgado
Editorial Support: Louie Dewsnap
Pictures: Lina Grün