Ioana Terheș: You have worked with artist Suzanne Husky, who was invited to this edition of the Art Encounters Biennial. Her artistic practice raises issues relating to natural resource exploitation, landscape use or the concept of globalisation. Have her works influenced your working style?
Miodrag Stoianov: Yes, her artistic practice has definitely influenced my project. We worked together from the very beginning, even before there was an idea of how the project could materialize, because we needed to understand the principles and the story that was supposed to give life to our project. Suzanne is very meticulous when it comes to making a decision about the materials and plants she uses and soil treatment, and she pays special attention to the environment. However, since our installation is displayed in a public space, it must be robust and vandal-resistant. Therefore, we have come to build a hybrid version that consists of natural materials, has a positive impact on the soil, is non-invasive and lasts for a long time.
IT: How do you think people will react to the installation?
MS: That remains to be seen. The installation as a whole will be a land-art attempt, because the site is very large and flat and the vegetation consists of low scrub, so a small-scale installation would not have had the desired impact. The site is flanked by four-storey blocks of flats and the inhabitants of the area will have an aerial perspective on the installation, which is composed of two “strips” of planted lush vegetation that link pairs of trees on the site, the pavilion being a “joint” located at the intersection of these “strips”.
IT: It is not new for an architect to work with an artist, but I am curious as to what this experience has meant to you.
MS: As an architect, I also have more technical, more accurate training. The difficulty I encountered along the way was that I was in a hurry to provide concrete variants and consider the constructive aspects, while Suzanne always asked questions about the compliance with the principles from which we started.
IT: Speaking of this experience, tell us more about how your working meetings took place. Was it difficult?
MS: No, it was very good, because after our first meetings we understood what our responsibilities were and how we should share them between us. We decided together on the “strip-like” shape of the planted areas, but Suzanne chose the plants and how the area should be developed. How the project is approached differs with our two professions, but we did not encounter problems that I would consider typical of the artist-architect relationship. In the case of smaller projects with simple functions, such as this pavilion, architecture is closer to the artistic or the experimental field.
IT: Could Suzanne Husky’s concerns become important to you in the future as well?
MS: They are already part of my lifestyle. I was glad to discover her interest in the environment, because I myself try to lead and promote an environmentally friendly life, from properly recycling waste and paying attention to the products I use and their packaging, to supporting circular economy. I travel exclusively by bicycle, I even try to be a good cyclist and promote this means of transport. Environmental responsibility is a recurring theme in my projects, especially since there are situations when a responsible choice implies not only a story, but also a new chance for an endangered traditional craft.