A Falcon flies around the World

28. January 2021

The falcon in our meeting room has been flying regularly to other countries for almost a year. After a year of online meetings, it's high time to introduce the creators of the bird: QueenKong.

Since 2018, a bird has been nesting in the Dobas office. It measures 5.3 by 2.3 meters and regularly inspires our creativity. In the course of the office expansion (read more about it here), the falcon moved down one floor and now adorns the wall of the new meeting room.

Because of Corona, not much has been happening in this room for almost a year now – except for online meetings. Not only do we fly around the world from there with Zoom and Co., the falcon accompanies us silently in the background and lands in with us in home offices around the globe. 

After a year of countless trips, we would like to introduce you to the creators of the falcon: Vero and Marco Schmid aka QueenKong. The artist duo from Lucerne is especially known for their large-scale murals, which they have painted in umpteen countries.

Back to field one. How did you two find each other?
Marco Schmid (MS): First privately, we have been a couple since 2006. Then in 2009 we both quit our permanent jobs and went on a creative journey. The planned year turned into two years. And during our trip we began to paint together. QueenKong's first mural was created in the New York borough of Queens: a woman with a monkey mask. From then on, painting became a bigger and bigger part of our trip and also determined our route. We traveled from North to South America in a van and painted about 50 murals in the two years on the road. The art often served us as currency and we bartered with our works.
Vero Schmid (VS): Painting was also a nice way to discover how we function as a creative couple. Where do we take each other further, where do we get in each other's way? It also allowed for an exchange with the local population, people see you paint and approach you. We both found that very enriching.

Murals have remained an important format even after the trip.
VS: The large-scale is just really fun! We like to think big. But the mural is only one of our passions, there are many more. We also make small formats and like to experiment with materials as well as techniques. Currently, for example, we are painting snow.
MS: With murals, you involve your whole body, it's very physical. You can totally throw yourself into it. A beautiful work!

What was the most extraordinary QueenKong project so far? 
MS: Many works have something special in their own way. The first project that comes to mind is the one in Stansstad. We used a new technique and worked gold leaf into the façade of the Riedsunnä retirement home. The high-rise building in Berlin Tegel was also exceptional; at 50 meters high, it was our largest mural to date. We worked 15 full working days on our half of the picture, processed about 200 liters of paint and emptied tens of spray cans. The left half of the picture was designed by the artist Tankpetrol.
VS: Interesting! I think of completely different projects. I'm thinking, for example, of the billboard in the Mexican city of Guadalajara that we were able to paint. It hung for a month at a height of 40 meters and was also illuminated at night. It really makes you think, «Wow!» when you look at it. Likewise, I think of the soccer stadium in Pemba Mozambique, where we were allowed to paint the main entrance as part of a collaboration with a Lucerne aid organization. Somehow we seem to be attracted to soccer stadiums! We were also able to paint one in Sursee and St. Pauli in Hamburg.

How do you approach a project? 
VS: In the case of murals, whether in a public space or an interior space like Dobas' office, we go on location whenever possible to feel the vibe and look at the surroundings.
MS: Not that we want to depict the environment, but we usually make a reference to it. With a color, with a form, with the content.
VS: The beauty of being a duo is also that you can generate more ideas. And we can fall back on a wide variety of techniques for the implementation. It can be something graphic like the rainbow in Stansstad or more illustrative... The important thing is not to get lost in the possibilities.

And how did the falcon for Dobas come about?
MS: We had a «carte blanche», completely free hand. We met Patrick Buchecker first, of course, to talk to him and understand what Dobas offers, how Dobas works. And again: to create a framework and content that relates to its environment and so has its raison d'être.
VS: The falcon flies from level to level, just as Dobas travels to different cultures and countries.
MS: Different worlds too!
VS: With acumen like a falcon, with an eye for detail. On the little foot the falcon wears a keychain with a heart on it. The heart is a recurring symbol in our work and in this piece it represents our belief that passion will get you the farthest. Two other typical QueenKong elements are the mask and the knitting pattern.

What is it about these two elements?
VS: The mask originated in Mexico, where we stopped during our creative trip and visited a luchadore fight. An extremely fascinating thing! 
MS: It is a kind of wrestling. Each fighter wears his own mask. In the 1950s, there was a luchadore legend named El Santo. El Santo always walked around with the mask, even in private, and he was even buried with it. He fought against corruption and for the weak. Thus, El Santo became a celebrated folk hero.
VS: The mask in our works stands for fighting for the light, for something positive. And the knitting pattern comes from a tradition of Marco's family: whenever a child is born, it receives a knitted blanket. For us, this resonates with a sense of well-being, of motherhood. We give a lot of value to a motif with the knitting pattern.
MS: We used the knitting pattern consciously for the first time in Peru. The llama in Lima.
VS: We also like to paint animals very often.

What other symbols and narratives are relevant to your art?
VS: We often focus on the positive in our art. We do not paint with a raised dunning finger. The beautiful moments and memories should be in the center.
MS: Especially with murals in public space, you also have to deal with the fact that you create something for the general public and then move further. We also want to take this fact into account in our motifs. I always find it very exciting to peel out the essence of a place and find the relevant themes.
VS: It is also always exciting to find out what the viewers see in a QueenKong picture and what emotional connection they make to the content. For example, a distant acquaintance of Marco's had our mural of the Himmelrich building in Lucerne tattooed on her arm. She associates a very personal story with the image. You absolutely have to give people this space for their own interpretation.

The mural mentioned no longer exists, the settlement was demolished. Transience is often part of your work. To what extent does it influence your art?
MS: The finiteness also brings advantages. Especially in the case of murals, whose lifetime is limited, you might be more courageous and also more free.
VS: We usually know from the beginning when something is going to be torn down. Of course, you still get attached to a work. If possible, we also take a piece of each destroyed mural with us. We want to reprocess the pieces into new art at some point. But that's a new story!

Mural of a different Kind

A mural is not only found in the Dobas office, there is also one to admire in the 51 East boutique designed by Dobas. It was created by textile designer Claudia Caviezel. Learn more about the project here.

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