Author Archives: Helena Lang

Weekly Conversations… with Alice von Alten

Weekly Conversations… with Alice von Alten

© Alice von Alten

Alice von Alten, based in Vienna, was born in 1987. From 2010 until 2016 she studied at University of applied arts in Vienna and in 2015 at Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam.

You just moved into one of our studios recently, how do you like having your own working space?                                                            While studying I was working at school, which I really appreciated, because of the interaction between all the students, also from different classes. For me now it is important though to have my own private space, but I am really happy having other artist around and the possibility to chat, have a coffee together. It´s a perfect situation, a perfect mix, thank you.

We can see at your website last Photo series “Walls, Fences and Conifers”, which is about frontier places. What is it about those places that you want to capture and how do you find them?                          The series I started recently, but after thinking about it quite long already. Most of my childhood I spent in southern Burgenland and therefore very close to the boarder of Hungary and Slovenia.

For me it is special to cross the boarder, because you immediately feel a total change in the landscape, architecture and also in the mentality and vibes. In the series I try to capture architectonical elements, that I find most characteristic for Hungary and that carry very political languages. I have a little background in landscape architecture, so my observations follow design, planning, architecture and my interest in my artwork is pretty fixed to it.

Like the title of the series „walls, fences and conifers“, for me these are the dominant elements in the city I visit most in Hungary, elements of boarders, that we create to shelter ourselves. I find it interesting to discover things, like the conifers, that we immediately link to a specific time or politics, in which they were in fashion – in this case plants that evoke a political thought or memories of communism.

Do you already have some new upcoming projects that you’re working on?                                                                                                                Currently I am working on a project in Vorarlberg. I will present it in Feldkirch in the first week of August 2018. Together with three friends, that will also present a work. 

We are working in the same field, it´s about „boarders“ – in the widest sense, as Vorarlberg is also a frontier land. Our project „Schichten. Mögliche Grenzen.“ is one of the ten chosen START-Projekte that Kulturperspektiven 2024 is supporting.

My work refers to the river Rhein which is the physical boarder to Switzerland. When I went there to see the site Rhein and Rheindelta, where the river flows into Bodensee, I discovered masses of shells on the beaches. I am interested in the manifestation of feelings and cultural expectations in things, creatures and any other elements of landscapes. What do we feel when we see mountains of shells in Vorarlberg? Which memories and desires become awake? How do we collect these feelings and do we get manipulated by the travel industry, media etc?

For my work I will collect shells and bring them to an exhibition space in Feldkirch, where they gonna be part of an installation for two days. I am referring to Gilles Clement, who is one of the participating artist at Manifesta 12 in Palermo. Here is a quote out of one of his books:

„Der heutige Garten kann sich nicht an die traditionelle Einfriedung halten, er verpflichtet die Nachbarschaft zum Teilen. Die Insekten, Vögel, der Sauerstoff und das Wasser kennen nur einen Raum: die Oberfläche der Erde und die Ausdehnung der Biosphäre; sie überwinden die institutionellen Schranken. Im planetarischen Garten ist jeder Zaun eine Illusion und zeigt eine veraltete Sichtweise der Herrschaft über das Lebendige.“ (Gilles Clement in Gärten, Landschaft und das Genie der Natur, Berlin 2015, S. 23)

Do we get the chance to see your works exhibited somewhere any time soon?                                                                                                The show in Vorarlberg on the 3rd and 4th of August in Feldkirch.


Interviewer for studio das weisse haus: Bojana Stamenkovic, das weisse haus Graduate 2018

Weekly Conversations… with Valentin Hessler

Weekly Conversations... with Valentin Hessler

© Valentin Hessler

Today, we are pleased to introduce Valentin Hessler, who has just moved into one of our studios in Hegelgasse 14. We’ve talked with him about his artistic practice and upcoming projects.

You are currently studying the Transmedia Arts at University of Applied Arts in Vienna, naturally you seem to use a rather wide range of media. Where do you feel the most secure in?
What I enjoy most is working and playing with materials and objects. Video, sound and 3D renderings are rather functional, not a real passion or skill.

Last year, during the Documenta14 in Athens, you were part of the research project “Learning from documenta” at the Athens School of Fine Arts, can you tell us something more about this experience?
Learning from documenta is an independent research project situated between anthropology and art. It critically engages with the presence, impact and aftermath of documenta 14 in Athens. Our artist collective “Profi Reality” made a film during documenta and it was exhibited at the Athens School of Fine Arts at the “Learning from documenta” event in October 2017. So we were not really part of the group, but we have collaborated with some members during the making of the film.

Do we get the chance to see your works exhibited somewhere any time soon?
On May 26, 2018 will be the opening of the “Rooftop Gallery” by Peter Fritzenwallner. Selina Lampe and I will be showing the sculpture “Rheinmetall” on top of Peters car. The car will then drive around for a week and visit, among other things, the factory of the arms company Rheinmetall near Salzburg, where they are producing weapons and ammunition. The opening is in front of Rheinmetall Military Vehicles Austria, Brunner Str. 44, 1230 Wien, 6 pm. And on June 19, 2018 I will be showing my Diploma “… und eine Dividende in Höhe von 1,50 €”  at Vordere Zollamtsstrasse 3, 1030 Wien, Dachgeschoss, Studio 2.


Interviewer for studio das weisse haus: Bojana Stamenkovic, das weisse haus Graduate 2018

Weekly Conversations… with Verena Tscherner

Weekly Conversations... with Verena Tscherner

© Verena Tscherner

This week we are pleased to introduce Verena Tscherner, who has just moved into one of our studios in Hegelgasse 14. On the occassion of the Open Studio Day on May 05, 2018 she will present current projects. We’ve talked to her beforehand, in order to give you an insight in her artistic practice.

Having graduated from the University of Music in Vienna with Honors, what made you turn to photography and conceptual art?
After a few years at the University of Music I realized that I’m neither born for the stage, nor good at teaching. And after some time I found out, that I have a very strong ability to visualize ideas and experiences rather than transforming them into music. Since my grandfather, my father and also my uncle loved to take photographs, merely for a documentary use, I started experimenting with the camera at the age of 15. Going to college in Nelson, New Zealand, for a period of time, I took the analog photography class, which increased my desire to know more about it. I frequently used my dad’s old camera, mostly to capture aesthetic landscapes from unusual perspectives. After I graduated in Music and Dance Education in 2014, I had found out, that I certainly don’t feel like pursuing a musical career. Therefore, I made a clean cut at first, and found my way back to painting, photography and art. And by the time I found myself focusing more and more on photography and conceptual art. I seek to widen my horizon by exploring other media, such as art objects and interactive video installations and so my profound musical experience intervenes more and more in my visual art day by day.

You find your motifs taking long walks through the city and your photographic works often depict urban spaces devoid of people. What is it about those environments that you want to capture and how do you find them?
Working on a project with a college recently made me realize how much the Neue Sachlichkeit and the New Topographic Movement influenced me. I wasn’t aware remnants of places, that used to be enlivened by people, catch my eye like that. When I’m walking through the streets on a regular day, I would never see it. But as soon as I have the camera with me, my way of looking and how I perceive things changes. I’m more observing and realize there are moments that I find gripping. Sometimes I have short series where I didn’t know at first what I wanted to do with the photos and later resulted in series like “Aus der Reihe tanzen”, “Grenzen erschaffen Abgründe” or “Hear My Song”. Of course that’s a subconscious process. Sometimes I see something that works together, sometimes it’s clear that it’s a single picture and sometimes it’s something to figure out during the editing process. And it’s difficult to photograph people on the street. That’s also a reason why I capture what they leave behind. The object becomes the subject. There is some aliveness to those environments because the remnants are still inspirited by the people who brought them to life. The situation’s soul is still there. And how do I find them? It finds me. I don’t go looking for it, it just happens like that. I greatly enjoy these photography-walks. On the one hand because it leaves me with a good feeling coming home and on the other hand because I appreciate the act of photographing. It centers me, I feel comfortable and not as drained as so often in life.

You work a lot with digital photography, have you also made use of the analog medium?
Analog photography still has an appeal for me, although I don’t work with it as much. But I think it’s a good counterpoint to digital photography. It’s a much more meditative, more withdrawn process. It’s often said that digital photography is too transitory, too quick or too easy. I don’t fully agree with that notion, because for me the analog process is just more haptic. It takes more time to develop and it’s a high art to convey an artwork the way you intended it. At the same time, I like that I can take a picture, see it immediately and already think about how to use it. Nevertheless, even the digital process needs a long time until the artwork is at a point where I can say it’s finished and want to present it. Both mediums have their assets and drawbacks and it’s a new decision to make every day.

Do you currently work with both mediums?
I have a project in the works that contrasts the processes of high-end digital with well-tried analog photography. I like the quick process of digital photography for deciding how to approach a project. But I wouldn’t say it’s fast moving. You have to figure out how to create something long-lasting from an ephemeral medium.

You just moved into one of our studios recently, how do you like having your own working space so far?
It’s wonderful. I really feel like my workload and the quality of my work has risen as a result because it’s easier to separate work from home. Everything that pertains to my artistic work and additional projects I do at the studio now and the infrastructure and location of studio das weisse haus is great. It seems to have a collaborative aspect as well with all the other artists here. It’s an enrichment for me, too as I like to exchange views about art and life in general with colleges.

Do you already have some new upcoming projects that you’re working on?
Yes, I’m currently working on a project that focuses on the large-scale exploitation of natural resources and the danger that it’ll soon be depleted. In this artwork I ascribe certain body parts to a natural resource. I’m creating maps of where those resources are primarily being mined and associate it with surgical situations where the human body is being deprived of those natural resources. However, it raises the question of how to display the project in an exhibition because many people will find it deterring. But as a personal matter it’s important to me to address how we think we’re making our lives easier but we’re actually exploiting nature and its resources without thinking about the future. I already did some shootings for this project and I’m currently working on it in Photoshop but I’d really like to stage it with a make-up artist and surgical instruments. But that’s a question of cost and it’s still in the works.

Interviewer for studio das weisse haus: Judith Herunter

Weekly Conversations… with Poklong Anading

Weekly Conversations... with Poklong Anading

© Katja Stecher

This week we are talking to Poklong Anading about his beginning residency in Vienna and his plans for his upcoming exhibition at das weisse haus.



Regarding your work and also yourself, do you have any expectations of your residency at studio das weisse haus in Vienna?                      My concept for the residency is exploring the duration of my stay here in itself. I am thinking of a system, a cycle or a process of doing a project for a certain period of time. I am thinking of what I could possible learn and contribute while I’m here. I think it’s more important what I can experience here, rather what I am going to “make”. I’m thinking that it’s pointless to make something that I could actually make at my own studio back home. What I cannot do there is to feel myself being here and explore the city of Vienna. I consider the experience will be the work in itself. This is how I want to look at it. What kinds of connection will I’m going to have in this specific place? What is the essence of a residency? What is the connection of this place and the people navigating within to what I’m about to experience here? Art residencies are forms of hosting. What fascinate me are the invisible hosts. One example is the sewer system. This being covered by concrete and city planning, hosting secretions. I’m curious how secreted matters circulate underground in a sewerage system. How does a sewage system process them, before transforming and returning them back into the vast body of water? As with the camera is a host too. It takes in light that produce a picture. Using works from past and on-­‐going residencies, my attempt is to follow and observe the paths of water, such as rivers and canals. I like to investigate around the undulating flow of water within the urban and rural landscape. Look for the various channels that connect the daily activity of the people within an area. The captured lights could traverse and evolve around the exhibition space that will continually explore the possibilities of engagement within my immersion period. Producing something is a secondary thing. It’s the basis of that search and perception. The things that will inspire me from this exploration will be the traces of my experience. I want to find some kind of connection to the exhibition space and to what’s going on outside.                                   

Since you have already exhibited several times in Graz, what is your impression of the Austrian art scene or cultural landscape?               It’s so hard to give my impression. I didn’t have enough time to immerse myself with the artscene. Most of the time when you are given a slot for an exhibition, you’re so occupied dealing with all these problems setting up for the exhibition. But I have met wonderful artist friends here. Artists that I have met from previous stays, which open, up my mind on their unique thoughts of thinking. It’s a quite a busy scene. Many things are going on and it’s impossible to see everything. I was introduced to Naschmarkt by Yoshinori Niwa, an artist friend from Japan who is now base here in Vienna. I find Naschmarkt as a good source of material for art projects. It somehow makes sense to the idea that I am trying to develop for the residency: All these things that we consume, we digest goes to certain flow of system. Which also brings me to the concept of recycling. How things end up in a second hand shop? How people reutilize it before the leftovers being pushed to the damn trucks. Seeing these kinds of thing is very interesting to me when you like to tackle about the art scene. Where are the possible sources for the artists to find their materials in making works? What happens to the objects that we created afterwards, where does it end up?

It’s interesting to see how people move around and respond to this unique situation of a shared space. What are the objects that would be interesting to others? What are the things to be rescued and bring to they’re own spaces that they could still use? I also want to spend more time to visit different museums, art spaces, meet new artists and get to know what they’re also doing. I’ll see what would fit with my time.

You often use objects for your works, which can be found in your immediate surroundings. Since you’ve been in Vienna for almost a week, did you have the chance to explore some places and to find something which might be useful for your project?                                I have been also asked before what would resonate with the trapo in other places, which I used in previous projects in Manila. I haven’t seen this so far as side in Bangkok. Trapo is a hand size circular rag use for cleaning that is made up from waste materials coming from textile industries. These are hand size made with the aid of sewing machine that’s run by relatively modest small business families. After being used for cleaning, I can spot a lot of these lying on the streets. It’s contradictory. After it was used for cleaning it also became mess in itself. I don’t want to blame, nor do I want to judge that kind of occurrences in our place but this is what persistently caught my attention. It’s like living in a city showing how people are being consumed by their own work and time. Life seems getting faster and faster. It is like loosing attention on how to handle the basic implements for cleaning. But right now my idea is not directly connected to the concept of trapo. Vienna is very clean in comparison to where I came from. But then clean is also subjective and relative. What is clean or how someone measures cleanliness? When I was on Naschmarkt, I was going around and looking for things, which I could use for my project. I am surprised from what I saw. How much object does individual is keeping. For how long can someone hold to objects? I become interested in objects that people do not need anymore and sell it on the flea market. Different shapes of mirrors caught my attention. How many faces have looked in to these mirrors. I am thinking to incorporate it and combine the idea from the name of das weisse haus. How many people have come to visit the space. Weiß or white also resonates the idea of the light, the sum of all colors. I’d like to use these mirrors as some sort of channels from the outside redirecting the light inside the gallery space. I am thinking of interacting with people on the street. Engage myself with them and see the different point of views. I like the idea from random people outside the space who will be the source of inspiration. I like to observe what would be their responses. Shedding light into the exhibition room by asking them to reflect the light coming from the sun using a mirror. I also want to explore the concept of the circulation of water, which is also resonates the idea of reflection. The Danube and its surroundings is a fascinating place for me. How people are conscious to take care of the place. I want to explore how people enjoy it and share it with one another. As well as how it’s being sustain, develop and change through time. I am curious about these things. These are some possible ideas that may change and evolve as I immerse myself in this city.

                                                                                                          Interviewer for studio das weisse haus: Helena Lang

Weekly Conversations… with joechlTRAGSEILER

Weekly Conversations... with joechlTRAGSEILER

Today, we talk to the artist duo joechlTRAGSEILER / Wolfgang Tragseiler / Alexander Jöchl
about their current exhibition in das weisse haus LOUVRE LOVER and  Wednesday with… Poklong Anading and joechlTRAGSEILER.

Follow this link to watch the interview:                                                      Weekly Conversations… with joechlTRAGSEILER

Weekly Conversations with… Carmen Gray

Weekly Conversations... with Carmen Gray

© Amy Gwatkin, London

For this episode of our series “Weekly Conversations”, we are pleased to introduce film critic Carmen Gray, whom we are currently hosting as Theorist in Residence. On April 14, 2018 she will lead a symposium titled “Stranger Looks: The Body and the Gaze”, organized with artist and filmmaker Antoinette Zwirchmayr as part of her exhibition in das weisse haus. We are excited to find out more about this upcoming event.

Could you give us some ideas about the content and purpose of the symposium, as well as the speakers you’ve invited?                          Sure. The idea that the way we look at images can be an exercise of power has been around for a while in cinematic theory. As feminism blended with psychoanalysis, we’ve come to question more and more who’s positioned as the desiring voyeur and who the erotic spectacle in screen fantasies; who gets to decide what an image means. Some of the most exciting experimental work complicates and subverts assumptions about the gaze and desire. Antoinette’s work often features the naked human form, obscured or made ambiguous in other-worldly terrains. These bodies appear as strange mysteries that keep us at bay or complicate our expectations even at the point they erotically attract us. It seems natural as a possible key into her work, and a way to open it up to a whole vibrant field of associations, to discuss it in terms of the gaze, and we’ve gathered together a few thinkers we think can shed light on some of these strategies. In the spirit of disrupting a dominant viewpoint, we don’t want to create the illusion of a new watertight theory from these combined ideas – rather, we want to open up multiple possibilities and approaches, and provide space for what might even be conflicting thoughts. We’ve asked speakers from different disciplines to offer different angles on the topic – psychoanalyst and film scholar Beate Hofstadler, Belvedere 21 curator and Diagonale programme adviser Claudia Slanar, curator and director of Drehbuchforum Wilbirg Brainin Donnenberg, film scholar and filmmaker Rosa John, and myself.

Together with Antoinette, you are planning different formats such as presentations, screenings and discussions. Could you tell us more about the content of the program?                                                        Yes. Antoinette will be in conversation about her exhibition Second Nature, which is there on site for those attending to walk through. Some of the five 

short talks will be accompanied by short films or film excerpts, to offer more context and visual cues for these thoughts on looking, and there will be time for audience discussion after. We consider the audience an active part of everything we do – in Antoinette’s exhibition of images as fragments that can be ordered in different ways she even considers them editors of the piece – and we want visitors to feel really engaged in all of these meaning-making processes.

You are one of the speakers. What is the focus of your presentation?I’m a big fan of Antoinette’s work, and my favourite is perhaps The Pimp and His Trophies, an experimental documentary short she made as part of trilogy What I Remember (and which Rosa John worked on as cinematographer). I plan to screen the film and use it as a starting point to talk about the gaze as it relates not only to desire but also knowledge, and this tentative, danger-filled and highly ambiguous project of reconciling what is seen with the seductive but illusory stories told about it – stories often controlled by powerful men. Dark warnings about women, their curiosity, and looking have after all been around since long before cinema; stories like the French folktale Bluebeard, about an aristocratic wife-killer and his inquisitive new bride. Feminist thinkers have long been fascinated by this tale because it tells us a lot about the conundrum women who want to see beyond what they’ve been told and deep into reality’s forbidden essence – if in fact there is such an essence – can find themselves in. On some level, we need our illusions – and on another, cinema offers many and various possibilities for escape.

Weekly Conversations… with Soli Kiani

Weekly Conversations... with Soli Kiani

© Soli Kiani

This week we are talking to studio artist Soli Kiani, who will organize the next ”Wednesday with…” on March 28, 2018 at 6 pm. She has invited the curator Marcello Farabegoli to talk about her work.

Why did you invit Marcello Farabegoli for your presentation in the framework of Wednesday with? Did you have previous collaborations?
Well, I met Marcello at Parallel Vienna in September last year. He was/is much interested in the topic I am working on and I have the feeling that he understands what my works are about!
No we didn’t have previous collaborations but we talked about some in future.

What is the focus of your talk?
The focus of our talk gonna be on my artworks, religion, the years I grew up in Iran, those I´ve been living in Austria and let the guests find parallels between them.

Can you tell us more about your upcoming project in Klagenfurt, which is part of the public art programme?
I am invited from Lendhauer Society to build an installation at Lendhafen during the Lendspiel program in June/July. I will go on with the same topic, which I´ve been focused on last year but with a new body of work.


Interviewer for studio das weisse haus: Florian Appelt

Weekly Conversations… with Christiana Perschon

Weekly Conversations... with Christiana Perschon

© Christiana Perschon

This week we are talking to studio artist Christiana Perschon about her short film “das bin nicht ich, das ist ein bild von mir” presented at the Diagonale’18 in Graz. Her piece reflects the encounter of two artists who work against the copy – for them not the image is important, but rather, making visible the process that led to the photo.

Is this the first time, that one of your short films will be shown at the Diagonale?
„Das bin nicht ich, das ist ein bild von mir“is my third film at the Diagonale. In the past two years I have been represented with the movies “Ghost Copy” and “Double 8”. “Ghost Copy” is an archive movie that deals with Günter Brus’ performance “Wiener Spaziergang” taking place in 1965, and shows historical amateur footage. Whereas “Double 8” is a collaboration with the avant-garde filmmaker Linda Christanell. The camera work and imagery develops itself: two cameras, two artists from different generations simultaneously become filmmakers and protagonists and are presented on a split screen. This encounter has been the inspiration for my film project “Vertrauen ins Imaginäre”an involvement of five visual artists who have been part of Vienna’s art scene in the 1970s and were engaged in the feminist progress. Including the voices and previous works of the protagonists, the movie presents an exit from the male-dominated perception of women and transforms the artists into protagonists of an artistic feminism. Karin Mack is one of those artists and the movie was created in collaboration with her.

Why is Karin Mack such an important representative of feminist art for you?
This clip only exists because of the photo series “Zerstörung einer Illusion” by Karin Mack. The six part black and white series inspired me and immediately triggered my need to work with film. In 1977 “Zerstörung einer Illusion” has been an act of self-liberation from the role of women in our patriarchal society. Karin Mack stages the self-portrait of a stereotypical housewife with a pointed irony and then destroys it to complete abstraction with gadgets from her kitchen cabinet – including skewers, hair needles and nails. Now, forty years later, it’s important for me to show not only show the series but also how it was created. The artist worked in the darkroom as a 

room of self-determination or to put it in Virgina Woolf’s words as “a room of one’s own”. Subsequently, the film “das bin nicht ich, das ist ein bild von mir“ wants to carry on the feminist fight against the male dominated world. Role models like Karin Mack who have worked with political statements like the second wave feminist phrase ”Das Private ist politisch” have influenced my self-understanding as an artist.

The creating process plays an important role in this film. Has the process always been more important for you than the final product?
At the beginning of a movie there is always the communication about experiences and the idea of interdependency between my protagonists and myself for the duration of the collaboration. It is a process that requires a lot of trust and leeway. I’m interested in reflecting this through my camera work, as well as the editing. The idea was to put the photographs into motion and to re-animate them. In order to create an object out of a photograph you need to add the dimensions of space, time and continuity. I have used the parts of the series but also elements of the developing process like negatives and positives, daylight and red light. I wanted to play with perception and to illuminate photographical methods through analog lighting techniques. Rotating movements and shadows create an illusionary perception between imagination and reality. Illusion is not always a contradiction to reality.

Will this film be presented at other festivals this year?
I hope so. The film is distributed by Light Cone in Paris and the Canadian Filmmakers Distribution Centre. The premiere will be at the Diagonale in Graz as part of the program ”Innovative Cinema”.

                                                                                                              Interviewer for studio das weisse haus: Florian Appelt
Translation: Florian Appelt, Judith Herunter

Weekly Conversations… with Bárbara Palomino Ruiz

Weekly Conversations... with Bárbara Palomino Ruiz

© Bárbara Palomino Riuz

This week, we are eager to talk to studio artist Barbara Palomino Ruiz about her residency in Santander, Spain. This one-month stay is organized in cooperation with Orbital Residency. After hosting Lucia Simon Medina at studio das weisse haus, Barbara has been invited as Artist in Residence by our project partner.

So far, you have spent about a week at orbital Residency. What are your first impressions in general, and of the local art scene in particular?
Orbital Residency is based in Barcenilla de Piélagos, a small village about 15 km away from Santander. The program is located in “Los Nogales”, a beautiful construction from the 19th century, restored in 2003 respecting the local architectural tradition of the region. The surrounding is very quiet and perfect to concentrate and work. Though the first week of the residency was quite intense. The team of Orbital residency – Wendy Navarro, José Luis de la Fuente and Jordi Antas – prepared a series of tours and journeys around the city of Santander and nearby villages, showing me several representative landmarks of Cantabria.
Furthermore, they introduced me to the local art scene. In general, it seems to be a small but motivated scene. Many galleries, collectors and curators support the local artists in promoting their work abroad. We attended several exhibitions and openings including Juan Duque solo-show at JosédelaFuente gallery and the show of the local artist Zaida Salazar in a very particular space called La caverna de la luz, a project by the photographer Javier Vila, created to promote the work and collection of photography. In addition, we visited the exhibition “Las sinsombrero” in the public library of Cantabria. It’s an homage to a group of women thinkers and artists belonging to the generation of 27, who fought with courage and determination for the rights of women in Spain, but that until today have not been properly recognized in the official history.
This region has numerous surroundings with an enormous geological, archaeological, and ethnological significance. I have a strong interest in these aspects. During the first week I visit the Museum of Prehistory and Archaeology of Cantabria in Santander, as well as the cultural center Casas de Águila y la Parra located in Santillana del Mar, in which more than 200 pieces from the Ethnographic Museum of Cantabria were exhibited.
But with all my respect to all those great art spaces, what impressed me the most, until now, was one from ancient times. We visited El Pendo, a cave situated in the heart of the beautiful Camargo Valley. The cave measures up to 40 meters in width and more than 20 meters height, and contains an assemble of Paleolithic rock art, associated with the early occupation by Homo sapiens. The “Frieze of Paintings” is outstanding, because it’s a long panel containing around 20 figures and symbols painted in red colour using a contour technique, dated from 26.000 to 20.000 years ago. Really amazing! The impression of this place grows even more with the company of the guide and professor Alberto Peña, who introduces the history with enormous passion, telling details, as for example, that it’s believed to be a single artist who made all the paintings, because the gesture of the hand does not differ between the drawings. We also discussed about the inevitable association between our concept of cinema and this Paleolithic large frieze, where the animals are drawn representing different movements and publicly displayed, made to be seen from a distance, already from a perspective.
It’s been an intense but great welcome week, and I really appreciate all the effort of the Orbital team.

Do you have some objectives that you focus on, while on residency?
I did not come with a preconceive idea or to finish an ongoing project. For me it’s rather important to be able to realize a work in relation to the place in which the residency is located, to explore the surroundings, in order to discover and interpret all what I see, hear and touch, taking in consideration the official history and people stories, traditions and current daily life, including my own mode of seeing and my cultural baggage.
Visiting the cave “El Pendo” was essential for me. The region does not have a textile heritage or tradition that I could easily follow in a month. But I have one particular interest, linked to the first human presence, the appropriation of the landscape, the invention of an ancient technology – tools and intangible “know how” – and the first manifestations of art.  
Here the human history, the accounts of our ancestors are in the landscape, printed in the rocks. First, they translated what they saw into an image by used their fingers, their digits, making points to contour animal silhouettes (First “digital” technology? I ask to myself). Then, it seems that they realized their own presence, so they printed the negative outline of one of their own hands into the rocks. The visitor also discovers an archaeological survey attending the presence of the scientist, with a delimited field walking and all the measurement tools displayed. This also caught my attention, because this “contemporary scientific scenography”, this landmark, is already part of the landscape of Cantabria, but principally of the caves.
Discovering this at the same time as the Paleolithic paintings make me feel contemplating the traces of the human presence of “two different distant pasts”. When we finished the visit, I was still thinking about that. After this intense first week, I started to research and principally focus on those last thoughts and connections, considering ideas related with formal and metaphorical excavations. Moreover, I found out that the term “Barcenilla“, where the residency is located, has different meanings but the most popular is “what is next to the bank, to the shore”. I started daily walks, registering my repetitive paths, recording, taking photos and collecting all kinds of materials that I found next to the road. Accumulating these materials as a kind of “contemporary past of a human culture” across the area. I also started to research about pre-cartographic technologies, old techniques of measurement, representation and delimitation of the land, used in the past or found it today in the region.
One month is rather short, and unfortunately, I’m unable to extend my explorations. I need to select and put my ideas quickly into order, responding to the limitation of time, a challenge that I somehow enjoy. But Cantabria offers manifold aspects that I’ll keep in mind for future projects.

Will there be a final exhibition to present your work?
Yes, the final exhibition will be from March 23 to April 30, 2018 in the Centro de Arte – a beautiful location, that originally functioned as lighthouse. It was activated in 1839 and presided over the Bay of Santander. It’s one of the most important and emblematic buildings of the city, renovated later to share its original function of lighthouse, as a navigational aid, with a new cultural function.

                                                                                                        Interviewer for studio das weisse haus: Florian Appelt