| 91 Sve je u ljudima. Srbi su vrlo direktni, ponekad i previše, ali ne kriju svoje emocije. U Švajcarskoj vlada taj osećaj da uvek moraš da se kontrolišeš, da te drugi gledaju. Možda je kao rezultat toga opšta organizacija efikasnija, ali nisam rođen da izvršavam naredbe, selektujem smeće i razgovaram tiho u restoranima It’s a lot about the people. Serbs are very direct – sometimes too much – and they don’t shy away from their emotions. In Switzerland it always feels like you have to control yourself, that people are watching you. Maybe the general organisation is more e ective as a result, but I wasn’t born to just execute orders, separate the garbage and talk softly in restaurants Historian and gallery owner David Laufer may have been born in Switzerland, but his heart and soul belongs to Belgrade. He fell in love with our country at first sight and has now spent five years living and working in this artistic scene. Initially working as an art collector and initiator of exhibitions, he then began promoting young artists. The“FiveYears” exhibition at the Laufer Gallery, which marks his five years of work in Serbia, provided an opportunity to discuss all that’s happened during that time, given that this exhibition represents an attempt to predict what the future holds for us, with the younger generation of artists beginning to attract the attention of the international art scene. We all want tomove fromBelgrade to Switzerland, while you did the opposite – why? - To this day it’s still a bit of a mystery, indeed. But over the years (I arrived for the first time in 2001) I’ve come to the simple conclusion that this place just fits me better. That is, life is better in Serbia. Everything is organised and on time in Switzerland. As a result, though, you can easily feel useless, just another little cog in a big machine. In Serbia, for better or worse, there are many things still to be done; it’s more open, more chaotic too, but freer. What I’m doing here – experimenting in the art market – would be much, much harder to do in Switzerland. Are there any common characteristics between Switzerland and Serbia? - Yes, but Serbs constantly compare Serbia with Switzerland, which gives them ample reasons to be bitter and to feel inferior. The truth is that these countries are more similar than meets the eyes. One shouldn’t stop at the economic facade. Behind it lie two small, landlocked, ferociously independent and proud nations. There are about as many Swiss as there are Serbs, and neither are fans of the European Union. Switzerland became very rich because that was in the interests of the great nations – they needed an exchange office during the war and a safe haven for their tax money. Serbia struggles economically because its existence was secured against the interests of the great nations – mostly Austria, Turkey and Germany. But these things change, faster than you think. Prospects are better now for Serbia, politically and economically, whereas Switzerland reached its peak years ago. Easy choice, if you ask me. What compelled you to open an art gallery? - The tragedies that have taken place in this region over the past two centuries, especially those of recent decades, have an ironic positive side: they have produced great artists. Marina Abramović wasn’t born in Switzerland, or in Luxembourg. An artist is a bit like an alembic used to distil fruits: you have to start with something rotten inside, slowly cook it, and then pure alcohol emerges. And, obviously, Serbia has plenty of that to offer! Young artists here are full of energy and have a distinct, collective identity that I find remarkably intense, and interesting to work with. Collectors – both domestic and foreign – are starting to pay attention and to buy. New galleries are opening, new names emerging, new shows being staged, so I don’t feel like I take many risks in saying that the Serbian art scene is the art world’s next big thing. Who are your Swiss heroes? - When I was a little boy, those were certainly Pirmin Zurbriggen and Vreni Schneider, who won everything in skiing. It was great to watch them on TV. The whole thing was so Swiss: mountain farmboys and girls, red cheeks and thick accents, doing downhill at 130 km/h like they had to hurry to get the cows back in the barn. It was an age of collective innocence and simple enthusiasm. One of my heroes today is maybe Uli Sigg, the word-famous art collector who helped establish the Chinese art market. I emulate him in my own work and feel proud that my countryman was able to have such an impact on such an important scene. And since he is now showing interest in the Serbian art scene, I feel like I made the right move. If we fly with Air Serbia to Zurich to visit Switzerland this November, what mustn’t we miss? - Go for the clichés! Switzerland has wonderful mountains and lakes, with quaint little villages and cows with their bells. Don’t try to go for something urban and sleek. Instead, go to Graubünden, in the Eastern part. The valleys there are more majestic than elsewhere.