Interview with Perrine Lacroix

Based in Lyon, France, artist Perrine Lacroix talks about her impressions of her working stay in Krems in spring 2017 under the AIR – ARTIST IN RESIDENCE program and gives a first insight into her upcoming exhibition Kontext(e) at the Kunsthalle Krems (Nov. 25, 2018–Feb. 10, 2019).

You stayed in Krems in April 2017 as an artist in residence. What was the experience like for you?

I would like to emphasize how important it was that this residency was possible without having to have a definitive result. This is exceptional and precious. Even if it may be dizzying, the simple fact of being free in thought and action without restrictions enables much more immediate access to oneself as well as to the place and its context.

On November 24, 2018, your exhibition entitled Kontext(e) is opening at the Kunsthalle Krems. Which experiences of your stay in town last year have informed this exhibition?

The Museum Krems, a glazing pattern in an old Krems ceramics factory, the Venus of Galgenberg … The Danube river is very strongly present, large and tranquil, muffled, eerie, and loaded with history. I was inspired by the painted walls in town and inside buildings, churches, and museums [note: Some facades and interior walls in Krems show the painted outlines of bricks]. And I was of course fascinated by the prison building, its situation right in the center of town and its huge size. The studios of AIR – ARTIST IN RESIDENCE are right across the street, and the Kunsthalle Krems is nested in it. It is like a mute vault, a massive and forbidden object. You hear and see nobody, although it houses life, human existences.

For one piece, you addressed the subject of the so-called “Krems Hare Hunt,” in which political prisoners just released from the then Stein penitentiary were hunted down and murdered in and around town.

I only learnt about this event toward the end of my residency, in a conversation with Sabine Güldenfuß, the program manager of AIR – ARTIST IN RESIDENCE Lower Austria. Before the memorial was erected at the cemetery of Hadersdorf am Kamp in 2009, there was nothing to commemorate the victims despite their families’ insistence. The only place of remembrance dedicated to them was a virtual space, an Internet site, which was developed by some descendant. This story leaves no one indifferent because it touches upon freedom in three different ways. First and foremost, most of the inmates had not committed any big crimes, except defending their families and ideas. Then, they were killed right after they had been released. And the third injustice was that commemorating them was made impossible for all those years.

You relate to these tragic events with an installation of monochrome color areas. The basis of this are the image results you got when searching the Internet for information on the date of April 6, 1945. What gave you the idea of making a Google image search the subject of an artwork?

Today, when you do research it is much easier to go to Google than to a library. We no longer have the same kind of access to information and history at all. The algorithms that govern us decide on the order and selection of data that are distributed to us. We are consumers of a dirigiste way of thinking that likes to make us believe that we are in control.

You have also photographed the Kunsthalle Krems while it was undergoing refurbishment in 2017. What aesthetic qualities did the empty spaces of the construction site hold for you?

The space under construction, space in emergence as a premise of artistic promise is an exhibition in itself. The freshly plastered walls resemble wall paintings, the stepladders sculptures, the plaster dust simulates a haze effect, and the scaffold an installation. Their sheer presence in a museum space gives them the status of works. In the absence of a work, the ensemble is a work itself and prompts reflection on the influence of space and the workings of the work, which responds to the context which it inhabits and which inhabits it.

What are the things that you remember best from your residency in Krems?

I was ravished by the Venus of Galgenberg, her size, her finesse, her expression. Knowing that this is the origin of sculpture, one of the earliest human figural representations—obviously female and apparently dancing—a representation of the human body. I loved going upstream on the Danube to Melk by boat and ride my bike on the way back—it is an impressive journey through the landscape. I attended an overwhelming concert entitled “Cathedral of Dreams” by La Monte Young and Marian Zazeela at the Imago Dei Easter Festival at the Minorite Church Soundspace in Krems. I’m thrilled by the cultural variety and quality that this town has to offer.

Have you discovered a favorite spot of yours in Krems?

The vineyards just above Stein overlooking the town and the Danube river.

In Krems, you will also be holding an “Art meets …” workshop for adults on November 7, 2018. What awaits participants?

To commemorate the resistance fighters of 1945, we will be exploring present-day concepts of resistance and paint and write signs, which will then become an integral part of the exhibition. On opening day, everybody who cares to join in may take part in a performance/demonstration that will unfold from the painted wall in Stadtpark right up to the exhibition spaces of the Kunsthalle Krems.

What significance does art education have for you as an artist?

I once co-founded an art workshop for children and then ran it for 22 years. I'm convinced of the relevance of art education. It is not only an eye opener; it helps us to develop different understandings and insights about our world, but above all invites us to be curious and tolerant. For me, this is a political approach. (Translated from the French)


photo: © Marius Lacroix

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