Who: Kimberly Marteau Emerson Where: Berlin Best of MyStylery Today…
At home with Writer Ivana Jeissing
Who: Ivana Jeissing, Writer
Where: Brandenburg, Germany
A beautiful woman in a beautiful house by a beautiful lake. Sounds almost like in a picture book. And it is. Ivana Jeissing, a native of Austria, lives by one of the most magnificent lakes in Brandenburg. In 1998 the successful writer came to Berlin. At first she lived in a purist townhouse in the trendy center of the capital. By chance, Ivana Jeissing discovered this jeweler’s jewel, elaborated it, and awakened the almost striking mansion with the light outer facade and the green-red wood elements from the Sleeping Beauty sleep. Here the author lives since 2012 together with her Icelandic companion and two dogs on 900 square meters.
MyStylery: You can not really complain about lack of space, dear Ivana…
Ivana Jeissung (laughs): Right! I was not aware how big the house actually was at first. But when I first saw it from the lake, it was clear, that it had to be this one.
MS: The house and you searched and found each other?
IJ: I’ve always been a fan of the opposite laying horticulture and have watched the house over the years. It was empty for 15 years. Nobody wanted this object, which was located directly on the street. The property was so grown with plants that you could not see the lake. The roof had partly fallen into place. A complete renovation case, which I approached with great naiveté.
MS: To what extent?
IJ: The third floor was completely removed. Roof and truss were renewed. The house stood under a gigantic shell like a hollow tooth. Despite these enormous interventions, there was nothing that went very wrong. No catastrophes. Most complicated was the construction of the terrace, which did not exist before and which had to be approved. The house served as an old dormitory in GDR times and ran in the immediate border area, which is why terraces and balconies were presumably removed. I cannot imagine a house by the lake without a terrace.
MS: You’ve lived five years in Berlin’s wild center. What a contrast program…
IJ: My then husband and I had a townhouse built over five floors in Oberwallstrasse (Street in Berlin). Minimalist and reduced, it consisted only of stainless steel, glass and stone. At that time I wanted only the most necessary, so there was not even a closet. Instead, emptiness where one looked. Not a single little tin in the bathroom, no frills. It was like an inner inventory, which made me feel very well at the time. I also wrote my second novel there.
MS: Your first novel was made in an old Berlin apartment building. Do you move for each of your books?
IJ (laughs): One could think so. But suddenly there was the longing for something old again, a house with a bit of tutelage. I came out of this reduction and found myself suddenly in this old house with all its playful elements.
MS: Tell us about the magic of this place …
IJ: It is the view you have from here, which is absolutely timeless. There is nothing to indicate at which time we are living, no electric cable, no car, no sign of our high-tech age. The rest. And nature.
MS: And there are many walls for your art. How did you become a collector?
IJ: When I came to Berlin at the end of the nineties, I got to know artists through befriended gallery owners. The purchase of my first pictures came through the personal contact to the artists. I do not see myself as a collector, I just like to live with art. Meanwhile, the walls are full. If something new came along, I would separate myself from the existing one.
MS: What does your focus lie on?
IJ: On contemporary works. I decide intuitively and am not determined in a particular direction.
MS: What art would not come into your house?
IJ: Kitschy craftsmanship or decorative art that wants to please is not my thing. I am interested in corners and edges.
MS: Is there a favorite artist?
IJ: Difficult to answer. In the moment when I say one, many others come to my mind. The last work I bought was from the Frenchman Emmanuel Bornstein. I could not say no.
MS: You were a film director and creative director in advertising. How did you get to writing?
IJ: I was an actress too, until I realized I had no talent at all (laughs). After all the turbulent years, I suddenly felt as if I had been thrown out of a high-speed car. It was a real challenge because suddenly I had to start something with myself. I began to write short stories until my agent motivated me for my first novel “Invisible”. Writing went better than I thought. And now I start with my fourth novel.
MS: There are writers who deliver a novel every year.
IJ: I’m definitely not one of them. I need to write longer. Sometimes I come to a point because I have to think a lot or pause for several days. I then need change of scenery and go to the cold store in the supermarket and look at the yoghurts (laughs). Sometimes I also travel spontaneously or meet friends. On other days I write through and am totally immersed in my figures and their parallel world.
MS: Workwise, did you get where you’ve always seen yourself?
IJ: I always keep a door open with a willingness to move on. I’ve never been to the point in my career where I told myself, right, this is it now.
MS: You live in a dream villa, have a great man and two cute dogs. Are there any left open wishes?
IJ: I’m very happy. From time to time I dream of a very minimalist house on Iceland in the snow with a view of the North Atlantic and a cozy cottage in the sun. I do not want to live in the city anymore. BvH
About Ivana Jeissing:
Ivana Jeissing was born in Salzburg and grew up in Austria and Italy. Other stations in her life were Vienna, London and Barcelona. Today the author lives and works in Berlin. She worked as a film director and creative director before devoting herself exclusively to writing. Her first novel “Invisible” was translated into several languages. Her second novel “Felsenbrüter” and the third novel “Wintersonnen” deal with the elementary questions of life. For her debut “Invisible”, Jeissing received the DeLia Literary Prize in 2008.
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