The Art of Business Plan (not a tutorial)

Last weekend I was invited to a birthday party of a Gallerist Friend, apart from the lovely scenery and the fact that it was the first time since my youngest daughters joined us that I could go to such an event it was an uplifting event.

But mainly for one specific talk with a fellow artist, after me, telling him that “I plan to keep my path of art and focus on social topics”, bluntly provoked me by saying that an artist needs to challenge himself to reach a new limit every time, to boldly go where he had never been before. It wasn’t a great revelation and I wanted to diminish it. But there and then I realized that this time around I’m already doing it differently.

For the first time in my artistic career, I sat for the two weeks prior to this talk and (drum roll) wrote a business plan for an art project.

Writing a business plan for an art project was never on my mind before that, it was something I hoped would get sorted in the end and sometimes it even did. To some extent for a long time, I thought that I was doing one but it was all in my head. I didn’t know it doesn’t count until at one point during the last part of Lipstick Leaders the sensei/guru herself Georgette Vun shouted at me – “You didn’t write a business plan?!?”.

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100 Portraits 100 Leader 100 Women – “Lipstick Leaders” premier, June1.2018, Zurich

Even then it took me way too long till I dared myself to do one, so the one that I did do was in retrospect a few weeks after the initial show (1.6.2018). Let me tell you it was gloomier than you might expect. It was depressing I was in enormous debt after this project and if had to pay myself a salary it would have been much more significant.

But this time from my own device I set down in advance, like an adult, and did a “business plan”!

Since it was more intuitive than intentional, I had to ask myself why am I doing it this time so differently. At first, I thought, I had done it because I’m of “growing up” (which is also true) but then I realized that it all has to do with what I aim to follow with this new Art project.

In short; in my past projects, I focused on parts of society and created a space where these parts can be included too. This time I’m focusing from the start on society as a whole. I want to build a community with Art.

The first set of numbers I crunched showed me that on its own this project is out of my financial league. I had to take a break only to overcome the idea that I couldn’t do it. But then I realized that I only wrote the costs of the Project but not how I wanted to finance it.

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Mix Technique (Oil Pastels, Aquarelle, Graphite) on Paper 21x29cm 2016

This process required also a few days as I wanted to be realistic but not without hope or ambition. Which proved itself much harder than you might imagine (When was the last time you bought original Art?).

But in addition to that it was actually a very big personal transformational step for me. It was the first time that included a salary for myself and a realistic profit margin that when achieved I could invest in future projects.

Through writing these lines I realized, that through working on the business plan I started to create this future community with a clear and clean intention, with no illusions.


I want to create a “Truth” based community.

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Out of the concept of my new Art project “Das Abendmahl” that will follow the creation of a Community

Since by now you are probably asking yourself what this project I am talking about, here is a small taste :

“Imagine a large hall with 10-12 large pictures framed in dark, heavy wooden frames on the walls. The images differ in color and style but unite in theme and story. They show 13 people who had come together to break bread with strangers and to share communion. 12 stories of encounters and discussions, one story of a supper that brought them together. – a community. ”    

      let me know what you think      

Das Abendmahl (The Last Supper)

An art project about community, communication, and breaking bread

Imagine a large hall with 10-12 large pictures framed in dark, heavy wooden frames on the walls. The images differ in colour and style, but unite in theme and story. They show 13 people who had come together to break bread with strangers and to share communion. 12 stories of encounters and discussions , one story of a supper that brought them together. a community.                   


For the last 10 years, I have been dealing with the topic of “community” and the role of the artist in the community. This was done by working artistically with sub-communities or subcultures, thereby enabling their inclusion in the general discussion. “Subcultures”/social groups I have worked with include Russian and Ukrainian mothers, adults with autism, Syrian refugee children, Swiss women leaders, Belarusian LGBTQ, and people with dementia.

A direct side effect of these art projects was the possibility of an informal shared intellectual experience through art with all participants. This often resulted in a strengthened personal self-awareness, which led to a constructive “we-feeling”. For me personally, this feeling became the main motivation for my art.

The series of projects mentioned was brought to a halt by the corona pandemic. After a break of almost three years, I was able to visualize a new art project in early February 2023:

Inspired by an article that explained that: When a couple sits together with their smartphones on, their brain actually sends a feeling of loneliness, so they are actually lonely even when they are together. I took an old idea and worked on an “intimacy” project, portraying couples and asking them what intimacy means to them.

Inspired by an article that explained that: When a couple sits together with their smartphones on, their brain actually sends a feeling of loneliness, so they are actually lonely even when they are together. I took an old idea and worked on an “intimacy” project, portraying couples and asking them what intimacy

L und C Mix Media on Paper 60x80cm , 2023

A key question that emerged from the project was whether our children could achieve the same intimacy that we can in the face of digital media and AI deluge. If they could even muster the patience and perseverance that is necessary to make a steadfast relationship possible?

The developments in the field of AI over the past few months and the more profound insight into our general relationship with technology that I have gained through the project have paved the way for the start of a new art project that I feel is of great urgency.

“Das Abbendmahl” is intended to pursue the emergence of a congregation through art. From the creation of small family cells through the small communion process with 13 people, to the common self-awareness of a church with 150 members, which is very diverse but has a clear – if only artistic-cultural – common denominator.

The project should address two main questions:

How are communities formed?

Will we be able to form or sustain a community under the influence of AI and the increasingly advanced “communication tools”?

Whether the project can actually create a community remains to be seen. However, the project was intended to bring people together both on the ground level and on the meta-level, both in the context of the smaller “Last Supper” events and in the context of the final installation.

The basic idea:

By painting different group pictures with 13 people each and putting them together to form an installation, a community with 120-150* members is created with the help of art.


In reference to the story of the “Last Supper of Christ” and its artistic traditions through the millennia, 13 people are invited to supper. In an art action somewhere between performance and installation, this «last supper» is captured in all its facets as quickly as possible.

Such “Das Abendmahl”* events are repeated throughout Switzerland, each time with new guests, until a total of around 150 people have been painted (i.e. 10-12 times).**

By means of an installation of the various “Das Abendmahl” pictures and an event where all participants can come together, a new community will ultimately be created and celebrated through art.


While digging through and sorting out Material, and looking for the right stuff to create content with (I’m a slave of the machine). I encountered old Fotos from a Foto-session that friends of mine did with and for me. We took Pictures of works out of my first “Art-Project”.

In addition, I had an inspiring talk with Daniel Perez Whitaker about his current goals and a very interesting new Interview series he plans to do. We talked about many things but what was left with me was a sense of a Personal necessity to back to my artistic roots and fundaments. What moves me? How do I create? How do I approach my Projects?


For the first 10 Years of my career, I was mainly teaching and showing my art in every possible way. Today I know that I was only training, mastering skills, and figuring out my path in and around Art. It’s not only the craftmanship per se that needs endless practice but also how to speak about my art, how to present it, and how to take it seriously but not too personally. But I never focused solemnly on painting, there was just so much other stuff to learn…

And then came “The God Project”: It was after a long break and after experimenting with new styles (abstract) but also from very encouraging encounters that I started to look again at going back to my roots and painting people or Life painting as it is usually known. I attended open drawing sessions and was getting the hang of it again but it was too confined to structural and not deep enough. And then in a talk with a Lover, in bed late at night we talked about the concept of God (as you do). She said that for her God was a “big black Woman, with big heavy breasts”. I don’t know what moved me so much in that sentence but there and then I knew that I had to paint that “God”. It wasn’t a challenge calling a jest or a goal setting. It was more a child-like open-hearted decision: this is what I’m going to do!

Secured with my experience with approaching models for my classes and knowing that I had a good reputation around that topic. I decided to approach three Women in my network that fitted the personality and physique needed for the part. I got a very fast Yes from one of them and we set up a time to meet in person to talk details.

In our Talk a few weeks later she told me she was in her first stages of pregnancy. For me and for her that was a big confirming “go ahead” sign for the project. We set some dates for the painting sessions and decided that we will take as near as possible to her due date.

I had a very clear idea of what I wanted the poses to be like; God was standing with all her capacity looking forward, powerful and mighty!

On the day of our first session, she came in and said that she can’t stand for too long and would like to sit or lie down. There and then I realized that it was my time to learn and listen to what “God” wants and do as I was told. What followed was around 5 months of regular sessions of “God” coming into my Livingroom taking her close off, resting on my couch, and cracking jokes. I was able to create numerous works, experimenting with materials and flexing my craftmanship. The God Project brought out a softer side of me that I didn’t know was there. Some work out of this series was eventually shown in a small museum and are very dear to me since then. 

This Project set some premises for my artistic work after that and gave me a glimpse of what is possible for me. Working on the God project was exhilarating a playful but also very serious in the scenes where we both had a look at our humanity and our fundaments. Some years after in a talk I gave about my art, one of the guests said that when I talked about this project I sound like a “fundamentalist of Art”. This stuck with me I liked it.   


The Budget question

How do you Start your Art-projects, how do you define your budgets for them?

It is not every day that someone asks me questions like these it’s not every day that I ask myself questions like that. When Ruzbeh asked me these very questions on a long overdue lunch the other week it provoked me to sit down and write it down.

Art projects start themself; I have around 5or6 different Art-projects flying around in my head they are some time, to overlapping topics and often they are also similar in their intention. They come and go and if one of them pops up too many times I’ll write it down. But even before that, I’ll talk about them with different people on different occasions. Apart from the feedback I get, doing this makes me listen to how I’m talking about them.  It helps me understand what I want to say with this Art-project and deepens my understanding of what’s “at stake” for me in it.

The last point is maybe the most important one, if I can’t pinpoint the most personal core motivation that moves me to initiate this Art-project, it usually won’t work in the long run. This core motivation can be sometimes superficial and even stay in contrast with the “result” or outcome of the Art-project. But without it, there is usually no project.

With time I learned that this process enables me to spar with my Ego and free myself from the judgment and self-doubt that come with creating art and will appear for sure at one point during the work process.

After doing this comes the step of the “three Yes`s”. I need a specific OK from my environment for example OK from models/subjects to participate, Ok for Location, and more than often financial OK. From the moment of getting these OK`s its usually hard work and if I’m lucky a lot of painting.

As to the budget question (how do you define your budgets for them) …

The easy way to describe it is; I don’t, or if I would want to go easy on myself in most cases I don’t. But I am starting to. As the Art projects I’m focusing on are getting more attention and my level of my craftsmanship raises (getting older) I have no way around it.

The next Art project that I intend to work on, has already a gallery, a location, and a date set. But in the last few weeks, I realized partly due to talks I had and partly from a deep feeling that emerges more than I would love to admit, that this one is a bit more urgent and bigger than it originally seemed to be.  So apart from the obvious budget points like – Martials, Rent, PR, F&B, Vernissage, and salaries (with age I learned the hard way that this point includes my salary too) I need to figure out in the coming time how I want to present the project in the first place.

And this is the tricky part. Because I relay want to do this project no matter the cost…

But here comes: I need to do it in order to sustain this one and create the space for it to impact and grow as I have the feeling it ought to.

I’ll keep you posted on how it goes 😊

Old Road, New Path

Working on my website for some months now. Looking at my past, scrutinizing projects, and evaluating them. And then a tedious sometimes painful process of asking myself;

Why am I doing this (Art)? Do I want to do this? And if so; how do I want to do it? And then adjusting it reforming and crystalizing what I want to say and do in the coming future. And then realizing that I have done this process many times before.

But this time it seems more urgent, there is more at stake for me here.

What started in a journey to Kyiv at the end of 2013 with a project depicting Ukrainian and Russian Mothers, got me to Belarus to work on an LGBTQ project and portray refugee children on the Turkish-Syrian border. This journey took me also to high places, portraying Women leaders in the castles of power, and then was brought to an abrupt end in 2020 with covid19 and a shattered Pop-Art project about displaced Women.

I thought that I was done with art on a professional level. I have done my share of the limelight and even got paid for it. It was good while it lasted and it was time to settle down, learn a decent profession, and grow a family (both I did: Three daughters and I’m a certified Social Care Worker now).

But as it often happens in my life at the moment, when I think can let Art go, it will just smile and let me do my thing and then slap me in the face and wake me up. During the last months of 2022, I got depressed and was officially burned out. This wasn’t out of the blue but it took me by surprise in its magnitude.

As often happens in my life during the same time an Art door was opened and I got a free hand to work on a new project. Little did I know that this project has set the premise for my next journey.

Inspired by an Article that explained that: when a couple sits together with their Smartphones on, their Brains are actually transmitting loneliness, so even if they are together, they are in fact lonely. I picked up an old idea and worked on a Project about “intimacy” portraying couples and asking them about what dose intimacy means to them.

Painting these unions, and seeing them in their “intimacy” brought me back to Art as understood it; “Serving the Tribe”. The developments in the AI front and the deeper look at our relationship with technology that I gained through the project, cleared the path for the new journey to start.

In the Time to come, in a series of Projects, I will be focusing on the questions:

How do communities form?

Will we be able to form or maintain a community under the influence ever advanced “communication tools” and AI?

In an attempt to go after this question my next stop will be in November, where I’ll be painting a contemporary live version of the “Last Supper”. The basic idea is to invite 13 guests for dinner and paint them while they are following the ancient tradition of creating a communal bond and “Break-Bread” together.

Thank you for reading so far, more info will come soon…

Lipstick Leaders 2016-2019

Lipstick Leaders, a leaders portrait series

On the 1st of June 2018 Daniel Eisenhut’s “Lipstick Leaders” premiered at The Kraftwerk in Zurich. The concept for which was first conceived in October of 2016. The idea was to look at leadership in the most authentic way, and to present this vision to the public, without political agenda. When Daniel Eisenhut thought of leaders, he thought of women. Without hesitation or afterthought, for him there was a clear connection between the two. In this connection, he saw the idea for an art project. He would create an installation reminiscent of the walls of the past that were, as per tradition, covered with the portraits of prominent men. Austere portraits the focus of which were prestige and authority, rather than aesthetic beauty. This time the wall would be covered with women who so naturally took on varying positions of leadership.

Of course, as with any project, once it expands beyond the space of the artist’s mind it takes on its own life. Once open to the scrutiny of others, questions, and critiques flow in. One such question Daniel Eisenhut faced with regularity was: “why women?” The association of women in leadership is not one that has always been automatic in our society. Yet the purpose of the project was not to prove that women could be leaders, but that they already are.

Growing up Daniel Eisenhut saw plenty of strong female leaders. During his time in the Israeli army, the vast majority of those training to be military leaders were women. Eisenhut witnessed first-hand the strength and determination of these women, and it further cemented in his mind the symbiosis of femininity and leadership.

Growing up Daniel Eisenhut saw plenty of strong female leaders. During his time in the Israeli army, the vast majority of those training to be military leaders were women. Eisenhut witnessed first-hand the strength and determination of these women, and it further cemented in his mind the symbiosis of femininity and leadership.

“Why ‘lipstick’”, was the question that most often followed when people heard the title of the project. “Lipstick” was added to the title of this project rather ironically. The idea was to subvert the idea of women as merely beautiful. While cosmetics are often associated with external beauty, they can also be used to draw attention. The mouth is highlighted in these otherwise colourless portraits, and the onlookers are thus called upon to listen to what she has to say.

During the drawing sessions, Daniel Eisenhut interviewed each woman. Asking questions about her approach to leadership, her ideas of what leadership meant, and allowing space for each leader to tell her own story. Some women focused on their upbringing and beginnings, while others focused on their current careers and how the world viewed them in these roles. Each woman had a chance to speak and be listened to. All the while Eisenhut drew them as they presented themselves, and the result were serious, headshot like portraits, for the most part unsmiling. A streak of lipstick over their mouths, simultaneously reminding the viewer that these women have something to say, and that there is beauty in seriousness.

For the portraits Daniel Eisenhut chose what he believes to be humanity’s most prevalent and primal substance: charcoal. He employed the use of carbon-based charcoal to create portraits that would serve to connect us all in our humanity. Afterall we are all made of carbon. This medium, combined with the presentation of the works at The Kraftwerk Gallery, draws a clear line between primitive cave paintings from our past and the portraiture of prominent figures in our present. Society is key in perceiving these business-like portraits, in observing how women in leadership roles are perceived, and in how they present themselves. Daniel Eisenhut uses charcoal to remind us that we are humans first and that our society is what brings us together, just as cave paintings and campfires have done since the dawn of socialization.

Coming up to the show (June 1st, 2018) I got invited by Ana Aaria Montero to her show to talk about the project.

Daniel Eisenhut created “Lipstick Leaders” as an attempt to bring the pack back together. So often we focus only on our differences. The “lipstick” that makes some less serious than others. The high position that raises one above and away from the rest. The desire to be seen, heard, and understood is something that we all feel. “Lipstick Leaders” takes these often-opposing ideas of vanity and hard work, of female and business, of cave-painting and headshot, and brings them together to make a point. A multitude can be contained in each and every one of us. A portrait can be both black and white and colour. A woman can have a career and be a mother. Charcoal can be both primitive and revolutionary. Lipstick can be both beautiful and serious, subtle, and urgent, superficial, and profound.

By reminding us that many things can be true at once, that “and” is often more authentic than “but”, Daniel Eisenhut’s “Lipstick Leaders” is about so much more than maybe assumed at first glance. It is about women. It is about leadership. It is about society, history, and humanity. It puts a specific part of society on display and shows one part in a new light to remind us that we are a whole. Each portrait so obviously belongs to the same series, is uniform in its likeness to the next, and each woman is her own person at the same time. Each story is different, and there is a thread that runs from one to the next and through us all as humans.

After the initial show at The Kraftwerk Gallery in Zurich, Daniel Eisenhut has continued to portray and interview women in leadership roles. Over 150 portraits have been created over the years, and they have been displayed in various forms in multiple cities throughout Switzerland. Each exhibit allows the project and portraits to be seen in new ways. Art, and individuality, and community intersect at each event, and in every space, people are brought together.

When Daniel Eisenhut first set out to begin the “Lipstick Leaders” project, he received unwavering support from his men’s group. The belief these men had in his project confirmed Daniel Eisenhut’s idea that “Lipstick Leaders” could be a place of convergence for society. The women leaders were part a vast community and could be authentically portrayed as such. They were not seen as as opposition or outsiders, but rather were welcome as part of our society’s leaders.


From Friday to Sunday, February 3 – 5, 2023 Under the motto “Intim” I have portraited of couples in the “Kunstsichtbar” gallery.

Ulterior motive

Intimate: Following intimacy with my art is a long-cherished wish of mine. Above all, the question «how is intimacy captured/shown in my work? ». Can I see it? How is my perception reflected in the picture? This is thought outside of the usual pictorial compositions that are art historically intended for romance and “love relationships”.

L and S – Mixed Media on Paper 60x80cm 2023

In a past attempt to start such a project, I asked an acquainted mother of three how intimacy reflect in her relationship. She said, «When me and my husband watch a movie, each in his corner of the sofa and between us a big bowl of popcorn ».

This image intrigued me because it contrasted with any pictorial idea of ​​intimacy. When I sat down to write the current project version, this sentence was brought back to my consciousness. I don’t want to see the idea or the cliché about intimacy I want to see the true simple or complex reality.

This image intrigued me because it contrasted with any pictorial idea of ​​intimacy. When I sat down to write the current project version, this sentence was brought back to my consciousness. I don’t want to see the idea or the cliché about intimacy I want to see the true simple or complex reality.


In addition to portraying the couples, I asked the what “Intimacy” means for them.

The Videos are the outcomes of the interviews, they are all in Swiss-German and German in time ill add a translation.   

Intim – Konzept – Concept

The Pink Mark – July 2015

Art Project on the topic of human rights and tolerance

When approaching a new project, Daniel Eisenhut values authenticity above all else. Before creating any pieces, he takes the time to look inside and discover if it stirs him. Self-reflection is important to his process, as is looking at the world around him. Daniel Eisenhut talks to people, observes, and investigates the nuances within a cause. If he feels there is something there, that speaks to him, he his driven to make art. Art that speaks to the people who see it on a deeper level than anything that is merely aesthetic. Daniel Eisenhut’s work has meaning to him first, and thus continues to carry meaning out into the world.

As with any project curiosity is the first step. One rooted in society and our collective past, as important to building a community as to rooting one, necessarily requires a conversation starter. With his “The Pink Mark” project of 2015, Daniel Eisenhut set out to start one conversation. How dangerous is a mark? How easily is it given? What can an artist do, to show the humanity of those once marked as “other”? These are some of the concepts explored by Daniel Eisenhut in his project “The Pink Mark”.

LGBTQ Rights Art-Project, Belarus

Many of the atrocities of the Holocaust during WWII are well-known. Millions suffered and died because the state no longer saw certain groups as people. Jewish people were forced to wear stars. They marked them and fed the growing fire of intolerance. People already so used to labelling one another, can more easily dehumanise a peer by focusing on nothing more than that. Once marked, they became dangerously close to less than human. Those very labels were used as to round people up and send them to their death. So many people were unjustly marked for death, because of their religious beliefs.

It’s often forgotten that there were others. Political prisoners, common criminals, Roma, Polish, French, Jehovah’s Witnesses, various “undesirables” including people with disabilities, were all given marks of their own colour. Marks that dehumanised and organised them for collection.


The “pink mark” was reserved for people in the LGBTQ+ community. A triangle of pink cloth, to be pinned on those set apart by their sexuality. This mark sentenced these individuals to the harsh labour camps of Nazi Germany and labelled them as unwanted. In 2015 it was this very mark that Daniel Eisenhut chose to highlight and portray in his “Pink Mark” project in Belarus. “The Pink Mark” would strive to show those once marked as human and give them a place in history in which they would be seen.

Dead Men, charcoal on canvas, 270x150cm, July 2015

Initiated by the human rights organisations, BeQueer and Gay Belarus, the project was part of a movement to raise awareness for tolerance and human rights. Part performance, part exhibit, “The Pink Mark” project took place in Minsk and combined the spectacle of live portraiture with inquisitive gallery viewing. Lectures and workshops on the subject of tolerance took place, while Daniel Eisenhut drew members of a community that are so often left out of history lessons. Nude charcoal portraits humanise and immortalise the subjects in Daniel Eisenhut’s pieces. The people who would have once been marked for arrest for their queerness alone. For the pieces produced for this project, Daniel Eisenhut drew with charcoal, one of humanity’s oldest, most primal mediums. By fixing his canvas to the floor, Daniel Eisenhut can kneel and crouch over his canvas while creating. Using his whole body to create, Daniel gives life to his work. These portraits have a realness to them, that comes from the artist’s closeness.

Waiting Women, charcoal on canvas, 270x150cm, July 2015

The naked subjects and the minimalism of materials used all serve to bring the viewer as close to the original as possible. Very little stands between the people looking at pictures mounted on the wall, and people they portray. Any of the markers, so often used to judge a person are removed. Without clothes or surroundings to tell us what to think, we must look the person head on. The viewer becomes vulnerable in their own uncertainty.

Daniel Eisenhut then brought the viewers even closer to the people behind his art. The theme of the event was tolerance and human rights. Something that cannot be observed in an impersonal vacuum, cannot therefore be a merely passive art show. Instead, “The Pink Mark” required the interaction and participation, that tolerance in a community requires. It had to provoke and engage.

In order to bring awareness to the weight of intolerance, the dangers of marking, Daniel Eisenhut employed the pink triangles that gave his project its name. Visitors to the show, were given triangles to pin next to the portraits. Triangle of different colours were used to mark those they believed were queer, disabled, and so on. This active participation brings light to the significance of judging an individual on sight, and causes the people involved to observe within themselves, the role that tolerance and intolerance plays. For some, it even gave a sense of identity. Of being seen. Although push back was expected, in such a controversial concept, the public in Belarus, largely accepted the show along with the marking as an opportunity for “self-recognition”.

This was an open space, and the pink marks were pinned openly and kept beside the charcoal portraits throughout. Did the “vote” of other participants effect those of the ones who saw the same pieces, after they had been marked? Perhaps in merely highlighting the ease with which someone can be marked, one was also taught an important lesson in questioning the reasons for our own prejudices. Are our opinions ever ours alone? As the visitors went from viewer of art to subject of self-reflection, “The Pink Mark” served its purpose in bringing awareness to human rights, tolerance, and the forgotten victims of the Holocaust.

The exhibition ran for two weeks in July of 2015. More than 2000 visitors of varying backgrounds came to participate, and learn about the work of BeQueer, Gay Belarus, and Daniel Eisenhut. The project was both a great success and an important springboard for further activism through art. As an unofficial supporter of the project, the Dutch ambassador at the time, was both shocked and impressed by the concept and turn-out.

“The Pink Mark” project in Minsk served to honour the members of the LGBTQ+ community, while giving them a place in the memorial of the Holocaust. On these walls, they were seen, and not forgotten.

“la classe” September 2015

The “Syrian” Art Project – A Portrait Collection of Syrian and Swiss Children


The idea to work on a Syrian project or rather on the Refugee crises that erupted because of it, was vibrating through me all along 2014. After working on a project in Kyiv focusing on Russian-Ukrainian Mothers, it was clear to me that this form of “à jour-art” (a mix of Art and Journalism) is something that I want to follow. There was something about seeing or sensing my models in their own reality where they live, in their “Now”, that I felt very attracted to.

It made me adjust and level myself to their state and made me as I have understood it a better artist. I had to listen.  

2015 Began for me personally on a good note, I had three shows booked and I was negotiating an Art-project in Belarus (the Pink Mark). At the same time, the Refugee crisis was at its height, and on the Greek shores and Hungarian border the suffering became even more visible than before. In the back of my head, I planted the idea to do something but I didn’t have a clear plan about it.

It wasn’t until my biggest show of that year, which was filled with some celebrities and the general richness of Zurich that I met Aicha Baakili and after a short talk with her, we found the common ground that created the premise for the “la clase” Project.

The concept for the project was conceived very fast and after Aicha`s reediness to finance it we set up a date for us to fly to the Turkish-Syrian border.

As with most of my art projects, it was a dive into cold water. The magnitude of the topic at hand was overwhelming but portraying was very new territory for me that I never worked on. The fact that I just finished a very intense month’s stay in Minsk, Belarus for “The Pink Mark” didn’t help much. I was raw, edgy, and shanked but at the same time also very clear and sober.

 We got in contact with acquaintances of Aicha`s in the border town of Sulinurfa (Urfa) that would help on our quest. For the next 10 days, we found our way to refuge camps, slums, and roadsides between the city and the blurry Syrian border. We had talks and encounters but mainly I did what I came to do, portray Refugee children.


Introduction of the problem to be explored

My family’s history is woven with stories of forceful immigration and deportation. My grandmother’s family had to seek refuge in Ottoman Palestine because of the ever-occurring pogroms in White Russia, and my grandfather’s family left Poland for the USA for economic reasons he on the other hand was seeking refuge in Palestine in the early 20s. He on the other hand like my father (and to some extent me too) was either making Palestinians refugees or keeping them in that state 

My grandmother used to tell stories about the mass deportation that the Turkish army organized for the Jewish population of young Tel Aviv to the north of the country.

Her childhood stories were never bad in some way, the soldiers beat up her father with all the other community leaders and they did take two brothers of hers to fight on their side, it was cold and they did gather undigested corn from the horse’s manure to roast and eat.

But her stories were always filled with small anecdotes about her sister’s misshapes about one of her brothers that was so pale and thin that the Turks were afraid to come to their hut (what saved her other brother, she had 7). There was no hate or grudge or fear just childhood memories.

When hearing these stories in my childhood a part of me wanted to be the same as her in her childhood, a refugee.


Children adapt, children forgive, and stories and pictures from the Warsaw ghetto showed children paling till the bitter end, even child soldiers when their guns are taken from them, are children and will sometime laugh and play.  A child is always a child; it is the stories of the grownups that make him hungry, abused, loved, embraced, and fed.

This is the center of “la classe” a child without a story and no origin; a refugee in a grownup world.

La Class

The installation would be a collection of children’s portraits made with Syrian children in a refugee camp and with children from Switzerland; the portraits will be done very simply with black pen on A4 paper and will be framed in a plain manner.

They will be installed on a wall as one group as if belonging to one class.

The Project was presented at the La Sud Gallery in November 2015 in Zurich and then in 2016 at the UN in Geneva during the Geneva Convention of the UNwatch organization.

Interview about the Project

Aicha Baakili; Daniel how did you come up with the “la classe” concept?

Daniel Eisenhut; The concept as such came about through our conversations; about my previous projects (in Minsk and Kyiv) and about your charity/volunteer work in the Middle East. But there follows a very fundamental principle for me and my work; we all carry different stories with us and we each carry this “burden” in our own individual way, but in the end, we are all the same.

AB; Why do you actually do such projects?

DE; I don’t have a concrete answer, but I often follow my deepest fears, for example in the “la classe” project; I am afraid of being a refugee, and often I have nightmares where I have to rescue my sister’s children from refugee camps. In addition, there is a very clear fear that results directly from this current refugee crisis.

AB; why do you follow your fear

DE; The way I see it, whether I like it or not, fear is the main motivator of human beings. Because fear isn’t exactly something I want to look at personally, I learned early on to look at it the more closely I gain my personal freedom.

AB; I’m an Arab and you’re Israeli how do you think this project influences you?

DE; Our cultural differences are less important, but our cultural similarities, directly and indirectly, give the “la classe” project it’s grounding.
Perhaps this very symbolic fact only underscores the project; it’s not about nations, flags, cultures, or similar nonsense, it’s about people, about children, quite simply.

AB; For the “la classe” project you chose very simple materials (pen on A4 paper), why?

DE; My work is basically an attempt to get to the heart of things. Especially when it comes to charged topics such as gay rights in Belarus, as in my previous project, or refugee children in the middle of a refugee crisis, even the slightest overstimulation can blur the whole thing.
Added to this is the practical consideration that in the “la class” project I could not know where and in what conditions I will work, with these materials I can react very quickly and adapt to the situation.

AB; You often miss working with the children very badly, why?

DE; The work as such is easy I just do what I’ve always wanted to do I draw people. What I completely underestimated is that these children are almost without exception traumatized, some more, some less. I know PTSD from the faces of adult friends and acquaintances in Israel where it’s relatively common, but here it’s children who bear the marks of trauma on their faces.
When I draw people I try to paint them as they are in front of me and try to be as neutral as possible. This means that I often see things that are not really funny to me.

AB; How does that affect the pictures?

DE; To my surprise, the pictures are often very naive, almost kitsch, you can see that they are about children, but they look very old.

The Motherland (2014)

A Portrait Art Project Featuring Ukrainian and Russian Mothers

Naked, sitting, frontal portraits of mothers. In his Portrait base Art project from 2014 Daniel Eisenhut went to Kyiv with a simple question; is there a difference between Mothers of different nationalities? By portraying Ukrainian and Russian Mothers naked, Daniel encourages us and his models to ask this question over and over again.

With this project, Eisenhut challenges our “ideas” about our identity and preconceptions of the cultural supremacy we usually carry with us. By showing us the unadulterated truth. In Our essence, we are all the same. But he does this not by forcing the spectators to accept his way of seeing things, but by asking them what they think are the differences.

I set with Daniel on a sunny day and asked him a few questions about the project:

Your 2014 first portrait base Art-project you called “Motherland”, why exactly?

Besides that, in the Art-Project, I focused on mothers’ portraits. The name comes from a Russian slogan from the second world war that basically goes “This is our motherland!” it comes to say: “This is it! There is no other place to go.”. It was something that I learned in my youth as a joke but stayed with me until I found a way to use it. 

Isn’t it harsh to use a fighting-moral-pushing slogan as a name for a project about Motherhood?

I can’t say that the project is about motherhood as such it’s more about the essence of humanity. Motherhood is in the way I see it the main pillar of our society. From today’s perspective, I think that the slogan from back then fits today even more. I have the feeling that today everything that is human is under some kind of attack, Motherhood is the last line of defense, “this is our motherland!” has a different meaning today but it’s not less urgent.

You went to Kyiv to paint Russian and Ukrainian Mothers just after the “Maidan-Uprise” and more or less during the start of the Donetsk war. How did you even get to do this project and how was your idea perceived there at the time?

These are two big questions. Starting the project was magically easy, two days after conceptualizing it during a coffee with a friend in Zurich. I called an old friend for another matter and mentioned the idea he just happened to host a group of Ukrainian women and said that if I want I can come and talk to them. I did and in less than two weeks I had Mothers who agreed to model, a studio, and a host in Kyiv.

As for how the project was perceived, I can’t really say, some mothers liked the ideas but the main feeling was more doubtful than hopeful if I can describe it like that. Most people involved were keener to show me the difference between the nations than to look for similarities. I had to show them the Portraits beside each other in order to show how my concept works.

You have to understand that I didn’t have a clue about the region in its contemporary state at the time. I knew some Russian (don’t anymore) and knew a lot of history and like most people my age in my head everything east of Berlin was one big Soviet country. What was reviled to me during my stay in Kyiv forced a total reboot of everything I thought I knew.  It was great.

How did “Motherland” influence the other Art-Projects you did after it?

More than anything it gave me a taste for more, it summoned and underlined how I want to do Art. The idea of using art as a tool to investigate and create my Art “on the field” so to say, was a very profound experience. It made me a better Artist; thanks to it I can serve my Tribe better now.

Interview about the philosophy behind the Art-Project, the interview was made prior to Daniels visit to Kyiv
Interview about the philosophy behind the Art-Project, the interview was made prior to Daniels visit to Kyiv