IN THE STUDIO OF HANNAH WEINBERGER
Swiss artist Hannah Weinberger has no studio, and if she started to want one, she says she would rather "stop doing art and open up a bakery". Here, the artist describes her itinerant practice, objects that inspire her, and the influence the birth of her kids has had on her work.
Up to now I’ve never been a studio artist or, rather, my studio has not been a room, even when I had the chance to work in one, for example at art school or during a residency. Somehow I never felt the necessity of producing something for myself in a room. My practice is more about exchanges with people. Because a physical space (with length, width, and height) doesn’t leave room, in my opinion, for self-development – not even as a space of potential. For me, what matters more is connecting to the things that have happened and to history – relationships, the everyday, and life itself.
My position as an attentive observer has been hugely important to me in my experience so far. There have always been a lot of conversations with artist friends about exhibitions, artworks and other artists. Friends who, for example, believe in the work itself, in its material, and who think that the relationship between the object and its social context is less important. I resist the idea that art should only be about materials. For me, the point is maintaining a critical approach, so I’m against the Gleichschaltung – the enforced conformity – of artistic practices, just as I’m against too much participation.
Most of the time the environment where I plan to do or show something somehow becomes part of the work. At the moment, I’m working on a mood score for a four-and-a-half-day performance at the Schinkel Pavillon/Schinkel Klause in Berlin, while also traveling and filming for my upcoming show at Freymond-Guth Fine Arts in my hometown, Basel. For once, I don’t actually have to travel somewhere to prepare the show, but that has now also become a part of the work. I’m preparing the show while travelling through different places that are, from my point of view, easily accessible and relatively cheap to get to, such as Amsterdam, Rome, Berlin, Marseilles and Warsaw.
All of the traveling I’ve done in the last years has been incredibly invigorating; it got me to start working more with moving images again. I started up so many friendships in so many different places that went beyond a simple interest in art. The division between art and life doesn’t exist for me. In both structure and content, my film projects feed off what I experience in my travels and the conversations I have. Because, for me, and this is something I think is really important, it’s about stories. Working in a genre like narrative film offers a foundation for this interest and is also the starting point for my exhibition at Freymond-Guth.
I always want to use a situation; to take up a set of circumstances, a story, and let the relationships that come with it play their part, and then package the whole thing into a long-term project (how long is kept open). Let’s call it “making the ungraspable graspable.” What I’m after is the kind of power that gives rise to personal emotion, then giving this up again and in the process taking into account all the possibilities that result.
If anyone asks me about my studio plans, I usually tell them that if there weren’t space for my work – in other words, opportunities to make things in different places and spaces— I wouldn’t immediately go out and search for a studio but would instead stop doing art and open up a bakery.
Meanwhile, this is one of the most intense and beautiful times of my life. I have two little children. It is fun, but also extreme to be in this situation where there is not enough time to think twice about anything, and where time seems to be running faster than ever. I know it will change soon, but this is the current state of my life, working without maternity leave.
Concerning the objects:
My camera (sometimes I switch to my phone camera) gives me the chance to produce continuously and to archive images that help me find a preserved moment to think about and remember. This approach brought me to the broader project I have been working on for the past two years, which is also the basis of my upcoming show at Freymond-Guth.
(Speakers in my home) Another piece of hardware that often makes me think about what I should do and why, and how I can possibly change gears when I need to work towards presentation and distribution.
She will be performing at the Schinkel Pavillon 27.04 - 1.05.2016