Louis invests his assets

As an artist, I encounter the question of price; as a coach, I work with projections around money. I wanted to explore both sides during my exhibition «Vis-a-vis» in Winterthur. Those attending the opening could determine the price of the sculpture they wanted themselves. What do unset set prices mean for me? And how would potential purchasers deal with this uncertainty?

Money is a scary issue
The purchasers weren’t coping. Nobody wants to insult the artist; nobody wants to pay too much. The Swiss don’t like talking about money, except eight-year-old Louis. He came up to me wanting to buy the cool skateboarder by the entrance. Louis considered him to be worth the entire content of his piggy bank: «There are 150 francs in it, and I can add some more from Christmas — that’s not too far away.»

Now I was being challenged. Even with all of his savings, the second-grader was well outside the ballpark figure I had set for this sculpture. His smile won me over me: «Sure, I can do that.»

A work is created
As the original on display was already sold, a new version had to be created. The video condenses the most important steps into one minute:

  • Cut the wood: I receive whole tree trunks which I cut as required.
  • Outline the figure: with a crayon, I mark the approximate dimensions.
  • Work out the head: the position of the head determines the whole figure.
  • Reveal the body: shoulders, hips — what are the dynamics?
  • Unfinished state: left for a few days, details change.
  • Paint: after the noise and dust, everything goes quiet, pigments create accents.

I work only with chainsaws, here with an electric Stihl and a 30cm cutting blade. For larger figures, I use the two petrol-powered ones with a cutting blade of up to 90cm.

The value of joy
«Today is my lucky day», Louis tells me when he comes to pick up the piece on the 6th of December. Why? «At school, I was allowed to open the advent calendar door, today is Saint Nicholas’ Day, and I am coming to your studio to pick up my sculpture.»

Could there be a clearer statement about the relative value of money? Louis proudly empties his envelope filled with colourful notes.

Yes, money covers the rent, materials and more. Yes, sometimes I link my sense of worth to the number of sales or the price of a sculpture. When everything is possible, abundance is created.

Merci Louis. We have brought each other much joy.

Three days' work, one minute of video.

A few tons of wood arrive at the studio.