Aleksandra Mir

Meet Christopher Bollen

Interview, Me Magazine #3, Spring 2005
By Aleksandra Mir

Aleksandra Mir: I am a 37 years old artist from Gothenburg, Sweden. I was born on September 11, 1967 in Lubin, Poland.

Me Magazine: When and where did you meet Chris?

During an interview he did with me two years ago.

What do you like most about him?

His inquisitive mind, his good heart, and his smile.

What do you like least?

It's only been good thus far.

Why did you first come to New York?

In February 1989, I had just a job working in a commercial photo lab in my hometown of Gothenburg, Sweden. It seemed like I was destined to print duratrans of huge shrimp and scary radishes for local supermarkets for the rest of my life. I was in a darkroom all day, and in winter it gets dark at 3pm. I always wanted to go to art school, but it was really elitist and classic. I couldn't get in because my life-drawing sucked. I quit my job and drifted around Europe for a while before deciding what else to do. I had an InterRail pass and slept on railways stations and in hostels. I arrived in London and walked into Virgin Records to buy a CD, They had just launched the airline and were selling cross-Atlantic tickets in the record store for £99. The next day, I was on my way to New York, still with an InterRail state of mind. I didn't know anybody here, but thought, I will figure it out as I arrive. On the flight over, I was reading The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir. I was convinced it was a book about men. On my right sat an American brain surgeon from the Bronx returning for the first time after five-year practice in London, terrified of flying, a real anxious type. To my left sat an English aristocrat living in New York, the black sheep of his family, burning his share of the fortune on a decadent lifestyle which involved commuting to London to see his girlfriend on weekends. They asked me what I intended to do when I arrived. I said, "Don't know, will see what happens." The American got totally paranoid on my behalf and said with my naïve attitude, I would get raped and mugged as soon as I got off the plane. The English guy just said, "She'll be alright." It was a great flight. All three of us really bonded even though we were so different. By now, I have repeated this trip over sixty times and I've never met anybody interesting, ever. Anyway, since we were going to part from the American guy at immigration, the Englishman offered to help me call some hotels that would be decent enough. I said "ok, you call.' He asked me what my budget was, I didn't know what a budget was. He said, "Fine, you can stay with me for few days." I trusted him completely, and it turned out perfectly. He paid for a cab from the airport that took us to a penthouse on the Upper East Side, ordered sushi (I had never had that before), gave me bedding and the living room sofa, drew back the curtains, said, "Welcome to New York," and went into his own bedroom. I had the skyline to myself on my first night in the city. I wasn't expecting anything less; this was the picture '70s Swedish suburban families had a blown-up wallpaper in their bedrooms. A few days later, I met some people my own age in music, moved to Brooklyn, got myself into art school, and stayed. That was fifteen years ago.

Who or what has been the most important influence on you in life?

My friends in general. People come in and out of focus at various time.

Who has been the worst?

That's personal.

What do you think you do better than anyone else?

Nothing. I'm pretty good collaborator, but that demands good partners too.

If you have one fatal flaw, what is it?

Working too much may probably kill me.

What is your favorite song?

Right now, 'Victoria" by Los Super Elegantes, good friends of mine. I just went to Mexico city to see them premiere on home grounds.

Favorite book?

All artists book by Hans-Peter Feldmann. He is my artistic mentor and GOD as far as publishing goes.

Favorite film?

I love I'm curious (Yellow) by Vilgot Sjoman. I think that film could be remade for every generation in every place over and over again. I've taken great influence from it in my own film Organized Movement that speaks of youth culture in Mexico City.

Favorite drink?


If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you be?

I've been on the road for almost three years now, professionally and with my art. I am happy to be home right now.

What frightens you?

Traffic. I'm a terrible driver.

What has made you cry in the last six months?

This is personal.

Arrange on order of most to least important: youth, love, sex, philosophy, experience, power, hope, capital, charity.

Love conquers everything.

Do you believe in peaceful protest, violent revolt, or working within party lines?

They all serve their respective purposes.

If Chris turned into an animal, which one would he be and would you let him in your home?

Of course, a very kind Labrador Retriever!