Weekly Conversations… with Lavinia & Sara Lanner

We continue our Weekly Conversations with the Studio Artists and sisters Lavinia and Sara Lanner, both working at Hegelgasse 14.


Interview by Julia Furthner

It is quite special that both of you chose an artistic career. How did that come?
Both: Honestly, it just happened! What might seem special from an outside perspective appears quite logical from an insider’s view. A logic path for both of us. After all, we consider our fields as quite distinct and far apart. Well, at least that’s what we tell ourselves when we’re not of the same opinion in our frequent conversations. Of course, the line between personal and professional topics is quite thin, but this is what makes it even more interesting. Knowing each other so well and having an ally in all sorts of (professional) thoughts, struggles and – why not – shenanigans.

What we are often asked: None of our parents is a professional artist but both are art lovers. Art, especially music, was very present in our childhood and an artistic environment clearly given. Whether our parents think of their daughters being artists as a blessing or a curse varies. Oh, and there’s a third, the youngest, sister who just moved to Vienna and guess what – she’s going to be an artist as well, so there is more of this content to come in the next couple of years.

What are themes or projects you are currently focusing on?
Sara: The working title of my current project is Mining Minds in which I am dealing with performative and choreographic approaches to the topic of “mining”. There will be an exhibition as well as a dance performance at brut in 2021. Furthermore, I am preparing performances and exhibitions coming up this autumn such as an exhibition in the framework of the Ö1-Talentestipendium in Leopold Museum as well as a re-adaptation of the performance Mother Tongue at the Pelzverkehr Festival Klagenfurt. Last but not least my diploma and degree show will take place in November.

Lavinia: I am currently working on a new series of drawings with the title Not Long Now for a solo show in November. This led me to an extensive research about the art field as such. I’m reading biographies of artists, gallerists, papers about artistic practice as well as the perils and rewards of artmaking from an inside and outside perspective, and personal growth and perdurance. I am also experimenting with materials for sculptures to combine with my drawings in installations for a show next spring. What has always interested me is interdisciplinary work, being it audiovisual installations or collaborations.

Both: In the last couple of years, we both had residencies and stays abroad (Lavinia: Iran, Indonesia, Iceland, London, Paris, Rome, Sweden / Sara: Norway, China, Germany, North Macedonia, Italy, Denmark) and this year – probably due to Corona – we both had residencies in Salzburg, where we grew up, which is interesting to us – just as our careers aligned and approached in these particular times. We are convinced that our individual ways of entering the field, experiences, research and studies were essential. A kind of premise for having plenty to exchange now, reflect upon and carry further.

Do you think your artistic work overlaps at any point?
Both: We sometimes ask ourselves this question and joke about the fact that fortunately everyone has a field of her own. There is no interference or too close proximity, no discussions and misleading for the art historians of the future about who of the Lanners made a particular artwork – at least up to now. For people close to us, it is completely logical who chose which medium, as the way of expression also reflects our personalities quite well. Despite the fact that both studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna, also our studies were very different from each other. Coming from two different fields, Sara from contemporary dance and performance art and Lavinia from drawing/painting, we of course cover two different perspectives.

Lavinia: But still, there is a lot of common ground, especially when looking at where it comes from, being the intrinsic search and expression through a medium. Whether this is the body or the pencil is quite secondary – at least to me. Do you agree?

Sara: Yes, and I would add that we both like playing with alterations of reality and tilted images. May it be drawn or performed through the body. We might deal very differently with aspects of space, however consider the audience’s sensorial perception very much in both our approaches.

Now that you are working „door-to-door“, did you ever think about a collaboration?
Both: We’re glad you asked. In fact, until now we only collaborated once. We are currently working on a concept for a collaboration hopefully taking place in the near future. Certainly, our adjoining studios encouraged us to do so. Sara usually works in dance studios or bigger spaces or venues. This kind of studio work is new to her, as she is experimenting with material in her current work. Working door-to-door is new to us.

We love to have people over and cook, which might be due to our Italian genes, this could now all happen in our studios. A lot of our friends and colleagues overlap and it is an interesting journey for them as well – having an insight into both artistic practices and just having to go next door. There is a connecting door between our studios – we haven’t agreed on the door policy yet – our ideas of being connected during the working process differ.

Lavinia: Just think of the advantages you’ll have of an open door – in case you need to borrow a hammer or a drill.

Sara: Yeah right – as if these were my main tools when creating ephemeral performances!