Dieter-Michael Grohmann is a director and writer, known for Just a Dream (2013), European Union’s Secret Service: Fiction or Fact (2010) and Eating Up Hesitation (2013). The Brussels Times sat down with Dieter to learn more about his work and life as an artist in Brussels. The Brussels Times: Why do you live in Bruxelles?
Dieter-Michael Grohmann: Like maybe most expats – because of the job. Employed by the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber (WKO) I was detached to the European Association of Small & Medium Sized enterprises UEAPME as director communication and media. It is great to have a work field where you can actually combine your job with your art.
TBT: Do you see yourself more as a manager or as an artist?
Dieter: My education reaches from a master degree in Law via studies of advertising in Austria, studies of management in Switzerland to an education in film making at the New York Film Academy. So I am practicing my art life every day in my job and beyond.
TBT: What does this mean in practice?
Dieter: I am doing advertising, lobbying and awareness films on various policy and economy related topics for my job at UEAPME / WKO. In 2009, I created for instance a 3D art installation for the European Commission on the topic ‘How it feels to be an entrepreneur’, which was seen here in Bruxelles during 3 days by about 7.000 visitors and a year later in Barcelona during 2 days even by about 10.000 visitors. But beyond that I am writing, filming, directing and producing various art films.
TBT: How is the life of an artist in Bruxelles?
Dieter: Let me divide this question into 2 answers:
Answer 1: Life in Bruxelles is great. It is so international. When I came here I did not think that now my best friends would be Greek, French, German, American, Irish, Italian or also “Belgistas” etc. All these nationalities have their speciality. And guess what: all the prejudice are mostly true, but to find out that those are not entirely true and the people are in fact great company is a good deal about the fun part in being close with them. On top you learn a lot about the sometimes weird peculiarity of your own nationality and how to get over it for a better together.
About the weather, the bad street plastering (very annoying specially when it rains) or the shabbiness next to great architecture like art nouveau or the medieval center I will not talk, as we have this in other cities as well. And still I may say: Bruxelles c’est mon amour!
Answer 2: Art life is hard life. As much as I know how to please the needs for the advertising films, in my art life I like to produce what is in my mind, what runs with my blood, what moves me, personally! I don’t want to make compromises, like I have to in the advertising world. That is ok there. But my art is not yielding to please mainstream or preconceived opinion. Art is freedom; from time to time lonesome and barely acknowledged, but pure freedom.
TBT: In your art films is there a main topic or genre you are interested in?
Dieter: All emotions are deeply interesting. Is it love, is it hate or all variations of them. In my short film “Citizen B – like so many others” a man – symbolizing in fact a lot of people especially in ‘the Brussels crowd’ – submitted himself under the absolute regime of ‘political correctness’ and gradually gets sick, as everything that would give him pure – or even simple – joy in life is down-ruled by the ‘censorship of do-gooders’. At the end: not strong enough to fight for happiness, he finds no salvation and just lives on: frustrated, disillusioned, bored with himself, but perfectly fitting into the rules of political correctness. Jury members of the Washington DC Film Festival commented it as “strong story”, “gorgeous viewing experience” and “very artistic”. Austria’s Medianet remarked it as “not an easy film; too challenging for the wide audience, but an important contribution to the discussion of a troubled soul disoriented within the identity crisis of Western post modern society.” The short film “Flammend” (“on flames”) takes up the idea that someone under the cover of an official position might use his power for a very private agenda, a crusade of hate.
TBT: Talking about official positions: how do you feel about the new commission and the development of the EU?
Dieter: We are living in times of plenty. And still there is a lot of need as well. The shameless greed of a few is in opposition to the embarrassing poverty of many others. There is a lot of room for improvement. Surrounded by a general disorientation it seems so easy to fall for the ‘sweet poison’ of the populists. This is not just about capitalism; it is also about concepts of society. It is to stand together or fall alone – one by one. As you know, if you don’t stand up for the rights of others, as you are not one of them, one day there might not be anyone left to stand up for your rights.
The EU is nowhere – if not in our hearts, for the sake of a better future for all and every single one of us.
TBT: Thank you for the interview Dieter!