• Ben Stiller
  • Neo Rauch `Chor`
  • Urs Fischer ´Tomorrow`
  • Jeff Koons
Director and actor Ben Stiller
NEO RAUCH `CHOR` Neo Rauch Courtesy the artist and Galerie EIGEN + ART Leipzig/Berlin and David Zwirner, New York Photograph by Uwe Walter, Berlin
URS FISCHER `TOMORROW` Urs Fischer Photograph by Mats Nordman ©Urs Fischer. Courtesy the artist
JEFF KOONS `BIKINI`(DESERT) Jeff Koons Bikini (Desert): © Jeff Koons Lips: © Jeff Koons


    03 November 2011

    By Katja Schmolka

    THE ART CHARITY INTERMEZZO – Organized and performed by actor and director Ben Stiller

    Ben Stiller has been rich in contrast for some time. Movie, art and charity projects beam the popular actor from one sphere to the next. And made him realize that helping isn’t as easy as one would think. Still Ben Stiller could land a coup! On one evening he could raise almost 14 million dollars at the art auction at Christie’s for his charity project “Artists for Haiti”.

    The extremely friendly and down-to-earth Ben Stiller exclusively tells ZIP MAGAZINE how he made the impossible possible. With occasional charm and humor, always referring to the seriousness of his project.

    Katja Schmolka.: Artists are known to be introverted. How difficult was it to recruit high-profile artists for your project? Also in comparison to actors?

    Ben Stiller.: My friend Jeff Koons who I told about  my idea gave it the kick-start. Because he was so excited he gave me one of his major pieces “Bikini Desert”. I couldn’t believe it! But Jeff also alerted me to the fact that I needed support from an art insider. The world of art is very special and not easy, he said. That was something completely new for me. At that point I didn’t know how difficult this undertaking would be. Jeff Koons introduced me to art dealer David Zwirner. We got on immediately and he came on board. I’ll always be thankful to him for that.

    K.S.: Did you also get rejections?

    B.S.: Of course there were some rejections, which I understood. Firstly there were some problems time wise, because some pieces had to be made especially for the auction. Second, some artists didn’t want to present themselves to the public. The art scene is completely different than the movie scene. Actors are constantly attending charity events and are in the spotlight. It’s different with artists. They stay in the background and their work is judged, not them. Artists reveal their innermost without protection. The more I understood this the more I appreciated what they did for Haiti and the children.

    K.S.: When you had the idea to start this project, why did you think of an art auction?

    B.S.: It’s easy! With art you can collect so much money in a short amount of time! Millions! There’s no other area where that works. Not in photography, not in film.

    K.S.: Are you an art collector?

    B.S.: I’m drawn to photography. I have some valuable photographs by famous photographers that I collect. To plunge into the art scene was very informative for me. I went to the studios and observed how the work was done. I could feel the mood and the atmosphere. I was very exciting!

    K.S.: Your new movie Tower Heist will be released November 4th, where you play a very special burglar next to Eddie Murphy and Matthew Broderick. Who is taking care of “The Stiller Foundation” when you’re on set?

    B.S.: I do a lot of things myself, for example the videos where I promote „The Stiller Foundations“ online. But of course you need a competent partner. I work with “Architecture for Humanity”. They are in the process of building up the schools again after the horrible earthquake. Our goal is to give the children a safe learning environment. Education is their capital for the future. For me, this is a new area and a constant learning process. To be honest, I now understand how easy it can happen to go into the wrong direction in a project. I’m very proud that 100% of the proceeds from “Artists for Haiti” go to the foundation.

    K.S.: You’re a father yourself, to what extent do you involve your children in the Haiti project? Are there questions like “Why do we have such a good life and they don’t?”

    B.S.: That’s a good question! My daughter is nine and my son is six. When I come back from a trip to Haiti they ask me how it was and I show them pictures. For them it’s difficult to understand what the kids in Haiti don’t have. They will only understand it once they are old enough to come to Haiti with me. On the other hand, the kids in Haiti don’t feel like they are missing something. As harsh as it sounds, they don’t know life any other way. They don’t question life, they live everyday with all it’s aspects, positive and negative! I love the charisma and contentment of the people in Haiti. It’s a wonder for me – they are such beautiful people on the inside!

    K.S.: As an actor empathy and tactfulness are your strengths to portrait your character authentically. How is it when you fly to Haiti for your project? How do you deal with the poverty? Does it get under your skin?

    B.S.: Of course it affects me how bad living conditions are, Haiti isn’t that far from America. It helps to to go over and do something positive. And again: I see the contentment and inner peace in the eyes of the children. To be happy with a few things is to me, the art of living, and that inspires me to do even more for the people of Haiti!

    K.S.:Thank you for the interview

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