12 March 2015

Katrin Herzner | Interview (2015)

Artsource welcomed Katrin Herzner to Fremantle in February as the 2015 Basel Exchange Residency artist. Katrin has spent the last 3 years travelling across Europe for a major ongoing art project that explored the nature of human experience and the ways in which we can share and communicate our personal experience to others. We caught up with Katrin shortly after she arrived to find out more about the artist and her artwork.

Could you tell us a little bit about your practice?

Yes, my practice, I would say that I try to follow my interests. I mean, the basic thing is the world itself – what happens and what it looks like. I try to show how I see this world so that my perception may be comparable to observers or to others. I do it with my own perception and my body and with my skills and I try to find the right media to show what I see or what I think about and this is quite diverse. I try to find what I’m interested in, I try to find the right media to show it. Basic concepts are definitely migration, motion, movement, processes.

Your recent artworks involve a lot of travelling and play with the present moment and how we recall past moments. What is it about these things that you seek to explore?

I very much believe that there is only the ‘here and now’, it’s never possible to travel in time because there is only the here and now. Just when I said that, the last words are passed already so this is gone. We can remember them but they are already gone. So the most important thing is to be in the here and now, but what interests me is to know what is still in the here and now, which was from the past. How much stays, how much has to stay and what should we get rid of? Is it important to keep everything? Is it important to leave things behind?
Me personally, I’m quite interested in trying to keep the media as small as possible. For example, four years ago when I moved out of Berlin, I gave all my personal belongings away. Which, I’m not the first person to have done that, yeah, but I did it. So I sold it, I gave it to foreigners, to friends, or just threw it away until I just had those 3 boxes left. I’m curious, up till now I’m feeling very well about it but I’m curious if one day I’m going to regret it or something.

So how does travelling come into that?

Travelling is very, very in the here and now, extremely. I mean everyone tries to conserve everything but travelling is impossible because you have this 4D surrounding, you are in a certain mood, you meet certain people, very coincidentally you meet people passing your way and then you separate again. This is not conservable, the whole situation. The whole perception, the sound, the smell, which is not conservable. I used to take photos but it’s quite 2-dimensional and it’s just a picture and I think there is much more of it. Sometimes if you take too many photos it disturbs you on trying to keep the rest of it. So I try to find new ways to transmit travelling into other media. It’s good to share it, not everyone can do long travels because they’re working, they don’t have the time, they don’t have the money or whatever. So it really makes sense to share it with others. It’s the best thing for perception, the best thing for experiences and so on.

Yeah, sharing reinforces…

…Everything. I like to share this in a way that people might not expect. If you take a tour around Australia, there will be certain photos of course, of Ayers Rock and everything that everyone takes and so in a certain way people are watching your photos, they are waiting for this certain spot and then it will become more like a proof for the picture (and not the experience). I really like to show the rest, that is much, much more.

What kind of art interests you?

Every kind of art, for sure. I’m very impressed by good paintings, by techniques, by sculptures, everything which is touching me. This is not reduced to any media or to any kind. I mean there is many old paintings, old masters, or unknown pieces which are touching me.
What I think is, for me, myself I can judge art. I can say “I don’t understand this” I don’t like to say “this is bad art” but I say “I don’t understand this”. Because I know for others this will be good art and that is fine for them, they should be happy, it’s creating something inside of them. But even sometimes it’s interesting to look into art that you don’t understand because there’s a leap in your perception and so it might enrich you if you get it - if you understand it.

But I’m not just interested in art, I’m interested in the rest of the world and it’s quite important to me to keep in contact with the rest of the world. Last year I did a lot of hitch-hiking all through Germany and it was just great. You meet all people from all through society. From the crazy ones to the really rich ones and that’s what really interests me. In those conversations I’m telling them what I’m doing and explaining the project I’m doing and it’s so great to see how they react - if they can understand it or not.

And before we go - what do you most look forward to experiencing while you’re in Fremantle?

I will discover it I guess. The first thing that has taken me, is this layer. Fremantle is like a layer on the old, traditional or natural ground. I feel it’s quite artificial. The whole roads and buildings. Maybe because it seems so much newer than in Europe. I mean in Europe they cut down forests and built it up a long time ago. And here I think it’s more perceptible, you can feel it. Like riding around Bibra Lake, I had this feeling like there was a hole in the layer where something is breaking through like a volcano, something that was here before.
It’s this layer, really just a covering and, to me, it doesn’t care what was here before. It was not what I expected to find here… and there’s probably going to be much more.