Interview with Hans Breder

This is an interview of local experimental cinema in Iowa City with Professor and Intermedia Artist Hans Breder, conducted at Hans Breder’s house in April 2011.

Here are the spark notes that I took from the interview:

1. The interdisciplinary and performative notion of intermedia program; Breder’s preference of art instead of the convention of theatre.

2. Dance is about the body, the forever issue of art.

3. The intermedia program used to emphasize ideas, now it’s all about technology.

4. Participation of audiences; performer/observer relationship.

5. Video functions as documentation of performance. Example: Breder showed me a photography on his wall, and he says that it’s a documentation of the sculpturing state.

6. Breder is very critical about the educational institutions, he thinks the system is going down, and people used not to be worrying about money. He also dislikes the concept of classroom. He thinks that people learn more outside the classroom, and everywhere, even a person’s apartment can be a classroom.

7. He takes his student to travel. He criticized American history & American students’ knowledgelessness of world history vis-a-vis its European and Asian counterparts. He thinks he made the right decision to come to US to get inspired in a different culture. He also believes that an artist should work with other artists to get refreshed and updated.

8. Breder inspires me to “go beyond the concept.” He thinks art and science are one, they should not be separated. Breder has a great interest in Quantum Physics. He talked about

9. Hans Breder attended some theology seminar, but he is a non-believer.

10. Hans Breder thinks Mao is a great artist. Mao wrote poetry in classical forms and he said not to publish his poems because he didn’t want to influence young people.

11. Video Art was added to the Intermedia program because the digital time is coming and students need a degree and some techniques to find jobs. Video does the function.

12. Breder also taught his students presentation skills. He thinks “being able to talking about someone’s work for at least 50 minutes” is important.

13. Breder was very good friend with Andy Warhol and Jack Smith. He made art with alcohol and he likes party. He used to be New York based, and he goes back to New York a lot. He applied for founding to bring his artist friends from New York to Iowa City, which initiated the visiting artists program as part of the intermedia program.

14. Breder said that the MFA Intermedia program in Iowa City is the first one in the United States. He thinks the program is going down after he retired and he says he is trying to stay away from them (the program).

15. Breder thinks that artists/students used to come to Iowa City to work with him, the professor, instead of the program. He emphasized his art education background in Germany, and also the teacher/pupil method. He said he paid only 5 dollars to go to school in Germany, and everybody are paid to get education in Germany. The US scholarship system is not as good, because only a few people can get it.

16. He is unhappy about the fact that people are coming to a program for degrees. He is nostalgic about the friendly environment where people used to work and collaborate, but now it’s different. “It used to be more interesting.”

17. Breder is critical about the current politics and the cut-down of the university funding. He said he was glad that he came to United States earlier, he would not come if it’s now. He also thinks that the Europe is a better place for artists because of its socialist system.

18. There’re some Chinese artists who came to the Intermedia program as well, but they lost touch with Breder, and he has no idea what they are doing.

19. Breder said that Chinese art are becoming more and more important and visible internationally, which is partly due to the economy. He also thinks China is going to take over the current status of the United States (probably as the new art center).

20. Hans Breder thinks that people can tell from the first time they meet, a feeling about another person. He thinks that I gave him a very good impression, otherwise he would not accept my interview.

21. He said he is rude and straightforward, and he refused to show his work to me, even if his wife (a professor in Communication Studies department who saw me in the building before) brought a photo collection over to the table.  He showed me his workstation and

22. I am welcome to come back and talk to him, or watch his video art; and I should buy and read his book on Amazon: Intermedia: Enacting the Liminal.


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