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I’m tired. While climbing up the stairs to the Fortress, I’ve decided to sit on the stairs for a moment and open the small bottle of prosecco that I've bought to celebrate. While having some sips, I've started writing these lines on the notebook full of scratches from the past weeks. Tourists are ascending and descending – I’ve learned to ignore their presence and generated a weird relationship with them, so to say.
In the cocoon like environment of the Academy, I’ve learned not only different approaches to art but also to life. Dilşad, a student from Cappadocia, who has been here from the beginning until the end taking different classes, said that she’d like to find her way with art, which medium to use to go further. During this time, I haven’t found myself in relation to my writing, but my perception has seriously transformed. In a way, this residency helped to throw off the shackles that for some reason prevented me to act upon certain decisions. As a freelance writer in Berlin, from time to time I find myself in a bubble of isolation. Here, the more I’ve interacted with the teachers, students, technicians and the team of the Academy, the more I got influenced to keep pace with my surroundings to create.
During 6 weeks, my emotions were intense. Was it the architecture of the Fortress or all the earnest conversations and connections I've experienced? Besides that, Weltschmerz didn’t let me go as problems in the world keep piling up. To be honest, although I’m extremely happy to go back to Berlin – writing, working on new deadlines, watching choreographies from Tanz im August, lying on my couch with my dog with a book and cup of tea – a part of me is scared. I don’t know how I shall respond to this transformation I feel in myself, while handling regular acts of daily life... For sure, I’ll be remembering my days in the Academy with all those idiosyncratic beings… Funny enough, I think I’ll even miss the presence of tourists…
The opening speech of the Academy 6 weeks ago by Hildegund Amanshauser
Photo: Mira Turba
Since 2009 you have been directing the International Summer Academy of Salzburg. During those years what have you learned at this Academy?
What definitely changed is my approach towards people, who are called so to say amateursLet’s put it this way, people, who are artists, but not living from their art. When I came from Münster Academy of Fine Arts, I thought this is really tough. Because until then, I worked in a professional field, where you always draw a thick line between professionals and the others − those, who believe they’re professionals and the others that the “artpeople” believe they are not. I found out that there is not such a difference, especially when you look at the artworks. I think there might be a difference of lifestyle or how the money is earned. From time to time it might also be another approach to what art production is. There is no such borderline as professionals tend to think.
What I’ve also learned is that I really prefer mixed groups. Going back to my experience in the Art Academy in Münster, there were very young people from that region in Germany and maybe some students from South Korea or Erasmus students. To put it in a very short, I could say it’s much more fun to work in here.
As there are people from Lahor to NY…
Yes. What I take home with me every year is that our Western way of seeing things is just one possible approach of many. We have no idea how people in the global world think and function if we don’t speak to them, if we’re not in an exchange. There are various views and cultural backgrounds. Often it’s nearer than what one supposes, but it can also be very far away. This communication with artists from more than 50 countries in the Summer Academy enables many new insights on what the world is today.
Looking back to the past 6 weeks, what was your highlight?
For me, of course it was the conference Global Academy?. The fact that this project that we’ve been developing for 1,5-2 years became public… It was extremely interesting for me and I got so many new ideas. I was also proud that there was a big audience, even though it was a very specific conference for the people who are really involved in the topic − people all around Germany and Austria cameto listen and discuss with all the experts who came from all over the world. So it is a hot topic, indeed. It was a very good starting point to work further on this project.
Could you tell us more about Lady Liberty Press?
I call myself Lady Liberty Press, which I consider my label. It opens up this field. On the one hand in the word Lady Liberty, there is freedom, but on the other hand there is this idea of the printing press, PR, or “the press” as writing about something. I’m making the product, the book, but also the content. I define my practice in the field of printed matters. This field is so wide and gives me the freedom to work with everything from a zine to artist book, a comic, radio, culture journalism… Being an artist is such a lonely thing. I always want to connect with and learn about other people. I think the best art is usually an exchange. That exchange takes place for me mostly via things like books, writing, interviews or how you relate to an image you see in a book. When it comes to distribution, you can share on a wider scale. I’m really old school still in the way that I think paper has a radical potential.
Yes. In a way, these mediums are becoming ftihzd*. They used to be the main form of media. Now, radio doesn’t really exist in real time as something you access. I think more people listen to my show Paper&Tape as a podcast than onair. In that sense, the show is like a performance. The aftermath of it spreads.
Stretched in time…
The same thing goes for books. Artist books are becoming such a big thing in the art world. Zines are even entering the art world or university archives, where they have been put on pedestals in a way. They used to just be a way of actually getting people to come to your music show or to get people to come together. I’m interested in those things. Or how a flyer can be political and now a flyer is also just an art work… For my radio show I draw a new flyer each time. I barely use photoshop, when I scan it. Then it can be a little more blown out or trashier. This idea of having trashy flyers on the Internet and on the streets… But, they are originals or an edition of a poster, rather than just being information. I’m adding an aura to them.
On your webpage, certain keywords got my attention such as remembrance, labor, feminism, consumerism; exile, migration, resistance. Could you explain more why those words are important to you?
For me, there are two types of art. Art as a product that has a market value, but then there is this part of me, who is a total ideologue and thinks that art is actually a process; art can make visible the unseen things or maybe even heal conflicts in the world. This may be too big but it’s a good idea to follow. On the one hand, I’m dealing with printed matters, these physical things, but then I’m also dealing with conceptual subject matters like labor conditions, pop feminism, remembrance culture…
Sounds like a utopic approach…
I love the idea of utopia, but I also think utopia can only happen through hard work. I’m working on a series now called Sweat Utopia. Sweat being the juice that is produced in the making of utopia. Ideals that maybe can’t be achieved but must be tried. It’s a good motor.
Will it be a zine as well?
Right now, it’s little fragmented comics. At the end, it might become a zine. I haven’t quite figured out the format, yet. I feel like, the tools that I have to interact are always through art. The way that I define my art practice is through text, image, translation and social practices or performative gestures. That’s my way of trying to tackle these massive subject matters. I don’t think I’m going to cure cancer, but… (Laughter) But, I think writing or finding new forms of visual representation can shed light on blind spots.
* Some words are censored by the server itself such as the word p0rn (I'm trying to find different characters to write the words). Facepalm...
Students have been shooting in the Fortress or in the city; one of them set a fire at the Quarry. I have seen one of the trials with double exposure and the images are stunning – birds flying among the shadow of a body, a golden horse appearing in a palm… As there is no sound with 16 mm films, the class is planning a live performance with sound and texts for the open studio on Friday.
A student gave me a present: a frame of a film depicting the image from the window looking out to the mountains:
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