Why am I not interested in art?
“I like it when it becomes irrational.“
How does art work met Ursula Huebner on July 25, 2006 in her apartment / studio in Vienna. The interview was conducted by Conny Habbel and Marlene Haderer.
WgK: Which work of art has particularly impressed you in your life?
Hübner: There are of course several phases in my life that are associated with different works of art. I think of the Wuppertal dance theater very spontaneously, Pina Bausch. In the late seventies, early eighties. That was overwhelming for me, and the interesting thing is that it wasn't painting, it was dance and movement. It was about a representation of feelings and fears - of people, of men and women in equality. It was very difficult for me as a woman in art to find points of contact. Painting in particular is absolutely male-dominated.
WgK: Can you think of a recent work of art?
Hübner: I was very interested and fascinated by the pictures of Michael Radecker, a painter I did not know and whose pictures I discovered in the art magazine Parkett. These pictures irritated me and I thought to myself: "This is weird painting!"
WgK: How can you imagine your painting?
Hübner: The easiest way to describe your work is: He's the one who sews his pictures. Empty scenes, desolate, empty rooms, an airstrip with weeds, the view of a garage, the view from a cave into the night sky - all deserted. An interesting, idiosyncratic and unexcited work, exactly in the segment that also interests me: the abandonment, the melancholy, carried by wit and the love for detail.
WgK: Can you use keywords to define what good art is for you?
Hübner: There is good art when you can suddenly take a different look at life. When an artist opens your eyes to something you haven't seen before. It's the same in literature and music. These jumps are outstanding moments.
WgK: Would you say that art brings something to society?
Hübner: One would only have to ask the counter question: One would have to be brutal and make all the art that exists somewhere disappear. If you then look at what is left, you would see that it naturally matters. The people who are not into art may not be able to see what was created in the creative process. Good design is also art, or good architecture. We live surrounded by architecture - what good it does when you find a good place! You go to Krakow on the beautiful main square or to Salzburg on the Residenzplatz, or you enter such a square through arcades: you walk differently, you move differently; you get a different feeling about yourself when you drive up a high-rise. You may or may not like that.
What's the point if I paint pictures? I can say it's important, but I have no way of proving it, and it may not be relevant at all. I don't even ask myself that question because I wasn't just born to make the world a better place.
WgK: What can art do that other disciplines cannot?
Hübner: Art cannot be measured like science. There it is like this: you collect, you archive, you have to know the latest scientific status so that you can take the next step. There may be “true” and “false”, but even here it is not clear whether people were wrong.
The art is basically inexplicable. You cannot explain what moves emotionally. You can try to describe it, say: this is new, I haven't seen it like this before, describe why it touches you.
WgK: Could it be that what is special about art is that it can touch?
Hübner: Some would deny that. There is a tendency in art to want to intellectualize it instead of emphasizing its emotionality. I think there are people who work very emotionally and their art is still not good, and on the other hand there is very good intellectual art.
WgK: Can you think of a good example?
Hübner: There is art that wants to show political phenomena and remedy social grievances. If that happens in a way that still has a surprising moment in it, I think it's good: If it doesn't reveal at least some creative moment, I don't think it's so good.
WgK: How does it come about that intellectual art is so popular?
Hübner: I think the theorists have the upper hand at the moment. We live in a very intellectualized time - at least we in the West. In Africa or in South America something completely different might be going on. I think the art mediators have for some reason strengthened their role - in the interaction of producers, curators, critics, exhibition organizers and politicians - a lot. Professions were invented, the curators for example: they have an important role, but some are very low-risk, and if they are given a job that allows an intellectual approach that quickly tells them: this work is about migrant flows in the previous one Century in Africa, the moment they get a topic delivered, they are more likely to endorse it than an image that depicts a beautiful woman. Because depicting a beautiful woman is no longer politically correct at all. You are not easily vulnerable when you expose social injustice. Beautiful people are absorbed in advertising, advertising has paid a lot of attention to emotions.
WgK: The beautiful is appropriated, for art now the ugly and boring remain?
Hübner: I don't think so either, but the shell, the surface and everything that can comfortably surround us - a lot of that is covered from another side.
WgK: Which topics are guaranteed not to arrive?
Hübner: A lot of artists leave what they originally wanted to do in favor of possible participation. On the one hand this is to be understood: you have to be noticed.
I think you can only give the tip: if you are following a topic - wait until the topic comes up. And you can't be too shy.
WgK: Do you always have to have a “topic”, do you always have to be able to explain what you are doing?
Hübner: It's so interesting, I recently met an artist: Marcin Maciejowski from Poland. The interesting thing was that he couldn't talk about his own work, but he still paints great pictures. Very often one notices this discrepancy between those who can talk about their pictures and where the work is often not so good, and those who are not looking for any explanations. It almost looks as if they have more energy left because they don't care what other people think of their pictures. That is the great dichotomy - also when it comes to training young people. On the one hand, you think it's good that they don't care too much, on the other hand, it's also a problem if you don't look around. I am very half - half.
Probably the most important thing is that you look around, that you enjoy what you are doing and that you know what artistic production has already been done. What is exciting is: what will be new again? Because something new will be created again ...
WgK: What do you think is coming?
Hübner: It will probably have something to do with a way of life ...
What I would like is that the young people find forms - and I believe that this can be done through art - to be in contact with one another, to break down prejudice and racism. If you imagine how people can communicate on the Internet, all over the world they can find each other on certain topics, someone is sitting here and someone is sitting in Iran. Overcoming religious prejudices is the great difficulty today. It is possible for young people to find new ways of life through these spaces that are opening up. When I was a student, for example, no one was familiar with the World Wide Web. Something is sure to change. It has to change the possibilities of perception and action.
WgK: Participation and interactivity - what do you think of it?
Hübner: I always find it difficult to imagine that someone would be interested in an interactive work of art. I know few works of art that would have interested me, where it would have been about interactivity or participation, but I'm not the specialist either.
I come from the theater and there were early forms in which the actors went into the audience or people were otherwise included. I've always found that very funny. For me, if it does, then it has the appeal of a game, when I put myself into a situation where something works interactively. You go inside, you are a pawn and can experience something for yourself.
WgK: We think that the trend is right now that works of art have to be participatory: the author shouldn't be so machoistic, everyone can participate.
Hübner: I think we live in a time in which so many currents are possible at the same time as never before. There is an incredibly broad field. There's an opportunity to paint and sell pictures, there's an opportunity to do art in public spaces, there's an opportunity to do a lot. And there were types in art who acted out insane, the painter princes and people who ran around with clunkers, and then there are prizes for pictures where you think: “That can't be true!” Or there are Artists who have waiting lists for their pictures, which are then caressed by all sorts of gallery owners - that this can also be unsympathetic, that has to be clear to you. You end up in a segment of private collectors - including some very strange ones - who purge the drug money and the like. In art there is a great deal of good and bad side by side.
WgK: How do you weight form and content in art?
Hübner: Good form is only possible with the right content. That depends on each other.
WgK: Rationality - irrationality, what do you think of that?
Hübner: I like it when it becomes irrational.
WgK: Is your art politically ambitious?
Hübner: Maybe more than you would think. For me it is the case that with my work I also convey a way of life. In any case, this is not apolitical.
WgK: What inspires you?
Hübner: At the moment I am inspired by calm because I put so much into activities. And it inspires me to see other art or to have good experiences.
WgK: Do you have to be smart to make good art?
Huebner: Yes. But I think in this case being smart has nothing to do with having accumulated a lot of knowledge. It's about putting what you see into practice wisely.
WgK: What makes an artist?
What makes a good artist is for sure that it is extremely important for him to make art, that he has no doubts and that he is active.
That doesn't mean that you can or have to produce all the time, but that you always stay in touch with art, that you are always ready.
Perhaps in art it is like in love: you don't have to explain that, there is a connection. And maybe that's a problem for partnerships too. This strong interest and connection with art can become a problem. Maybe there is a good side-by-side life, maybe there is a good cooperation ... but maybe my ideas are a bit cranky. In any case, it always drained a tremendous amount of energy from me when I was in a love story.
Hübner: Through my work as a professor, I have learned that there are very different minds in art. Some are introverted, some extroverted; there are intuitive ones and some that get good results through practice and technique.
In painting, you have to be able to disappear behind everything else. Painting is like going into a cave and locking it behind you. I always thought to myself that if I had a child and they would come in through the studio door and see that I'm down to a hundred ... that would be terrible ... for the child.
WgK: Can you be as happy with art as with a partnership?
Hübner: There are ups and downs like everywhere else. But there are enough artists who have partnerships.
WgK: Can you practice art as a profession or does it have to be a calling?
Hübner: I would almost say it is only possible as a calling - so it is not possible to see art as a normal profession. It's a very risky story and you have to be very idealistic from the start to get involved in it at all. And you have to feel called to it.
WgK: Is making art sometimes difficult and exhausting for you?
Hübner: For me it is one of the most beautiful conditions - when it works. If you are good at work, then it is a comprehensive activity. You are so excited, you are so challenged! If the result is good, it is great, and if it is not good, then it is an incentive. Just having this task in front of you is one way of coping with life. We live from challenging ourselves.
WgK: When do you think art sucks?
Hübner: If it's art, I never think it sucks. If it sells under the label “art”, is totally boring and has been thought around the corner seven times, then I think it sucks.
Or when arrogance spreads among artists and they immediately interpret incomprehension in their favor. As it often happens in public spaces: People are overwhelmed by what they get slammed into there.
WgK: What is the most important lesson you've learned?
Hübner: To obey my instincts.
If you have something like the possibility of a playful attitude, then you shouldn't allow yourself to be forced to be serious.
WgK: How do you become happy in life?
Hübner: When you find what suits you. The job, the partner, the way of life. Authenticity is one of the words that comes to mind in this connection: When you manage to find people who share your own attitude towards life with you.
It is important to meet people who can be generous and tolerant. These are certainly not only found in art, but when I entered the milieu, I found freedoms that I didn't have before.
This entry was published on Monday, September 11th, 2006 at 1:30 pm and is saved under Interviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. At the moment, neither commenting nor setting a trackback is possible.
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