Six questions for
Katharina Zimmerhackl

Tique | art paper asks six questions to an artist about their work and inspiration.
This week: Katharina Zimmerhackl.

Artist Katharina Zimmerhackl
Lives in Leipzig

How do you describe your own art practice?

I usually tend to frame my artistic practice as “conceptual art” with a focus on visual and literary languages (as traditional forms of the production of knowledge), collectivity and collaboration (the body and its experience as politics), as well as history and the reflection on its writing and production, especially from a feminist point of view. Usually my work is more research-based and results in scripts, scores or notations as systems of organizing and (re-)structuring the researched material. These scripts are performed in a theatrical and musical manner, using stage instructions and sometimes a stage-like setting.
My artistic practice is accompanied by a theoretical practice – I am an editor of the feminist magazine collective “outside the box – Zeitschrift für feministische Gesellschaftskritik” – including writing and giving lectures or talks. The theoretical and the practical aspects of my work are strongly connected.

What was your first experience with art?

I have a distinct memory about visiting a show at the Fondation Beyeler with my mom when I was around 14 years old. It was a show about the development from impressionism to expressionism, starting with Monet, showing then some of the American expressionists and then turning towards video artists like Nam June Paik and in the last room an enigmatic projection by Pippilotti Rist. It was my first encounter with a more contemporary art and I was totally overwhelmed by what forms art can take on – the revelation of a “beyond-the-canvas” – and how your body can be completely immersed and affected through the space, the light, the sound etc.

What is your greatest source of inspiration?

My artistic work is not so much shaped by “inspirations”, it is much more about an urge to understand and critique the social conditions I experience. So the source of my works is more about researching in a more associative way, including books I read, music I listen to, discussions I have, details I observe, experiences I make, socio-political things that are happening and so on.

What do you need in order to create your work?

Time to focus (a lot), a good library/bookshop, a well-sorted hardware or art supply store, recording devices, a printer, wifi, money, sometimes some performers, often a deadline and a specific space and, at last, someone to talk things through from time to time.

What are you working on at the moment?

I am working on two things at the moment. The first one is a show entitled “Legitimate Rehearsals” that I am co-curating as well as contributing to. The show is about testing the artspace as a social space through proposing artistic attempts and settings that question social representation and legitimation through forms of deferred re-staging and embodiment. The work I am creating for the show is a take on Freud’s study room and the psychoanalytical setting it proposes. I am interested in the simultaneous intimacy and distance this setting provides and am re-staging it, however with twisting, reversing and scripting it.
Apart from that I am continuing a work on the (female) hysterical body. For this, I am working with the physical recordings of the tremors and bouts and will try to transform them into a sound piece.

What work or artist has most recently surprised you?

A longer while ago I saw a performance by Alex Waterman and Will Holder at La Loge. They were reading a piece by Robert Ashley and it was done so perfectly, it really showed me the musical quality of spoken words.
I also was quite impressed with a performance by Jeremiah Day. He connects improvisational speech with – also improvised – staggering and swaying movements. I am quite intrigued by how the connection of movement and speech created a gesture of insecurity and constant search. For me it is a very good example of how art can become political through its form as well.
And finally, just to not only name men here, I also recently discovered Laurie Spiegel. She is a composer working with synthesizers and creates her musical structures through algorithms. The compositions are very minimal in a way – some do not use more than 5 notes I think – but they are so intricate, it just made me realize how strong minimal glitches in a rhythm or sound can be to produce a certain tension.

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