Kay Walkowiak lives and works in Vienna, Austria. He attended the Universität für angewandte Kunst, Vienna and has participated in residencies in Austria, China, Japan, India and Canada. He has exhibited in Germany, India, Japan,the Slovak Republic, Austria and China. His most recent solo exhibition was at FELDBUSCHWIESNER Galerie in Berlin, Germany. We were able to catch him in Canada during a residency funded by BMUKK at The Banff Centre where he was working on a new video.
When I came to Banff National Park, it was obvious that I had to deal with the topic of nature and its cultural historical context. The concept for my video is heterotopia–how something that is really natural could seem to become very artificial.
For example, people seek out a similar experience before going to Banff. They’ve already seen photos on the internet with pristine colours and the mountains reflecting. However, when it’s foggy the park looks different. The internet photos are like theme park images, they’re so clean cut. The idea that something is supposed to be natural becomes artificial because it’s so different from everyday life and there’s something superficial about its presentation.
It’s a pleasure to be outside and consume nature. The idealization of nature is that it’s pure and very beautiful. If you look carefully at nature, you will see that it’s really brutal as well–not just soft and genlte. With this project, I’m hoping to bring back something that might be covered by all this idealization and these images of beauty and nature. I’m trying to make an intervention or an act that will interrupt this perfect idea of the place or image.
I really like opening the field of possibilities and handing it over to someone else. I tend to do things that are too strict and I tend to be a perfectionist. I really like the point where I have to give up control, hand it over and see what will happen. For sure, I have an idea of how it could happen but I never knew the result in the end. Maybe I set up some components and a few rules in the field but the play itself just happens, it’s out of my control.
Lately my practice has been about opening up my work and handing it over to other people to use in other circumstances. For example, in the video Minimal Vandalism, a skateboarder uses the sculptures in my installation as obstacles. The skateboarder had to try to see what he could do with it. The installation changed and carried a lot of traces after the performance. The box, that is in the video, is marked due to the skateboarder having many tries to do tricks. He would do one movement again and again and again so the rub of the wheels would just draw lines on the box so one really looks like a big drawing now.
This collaborative creative process allows me to work in scenarios other than my studio at home. The term ‘studio’ for me doesn’t refer to one place, it could be everywhere I go and potentially everything I do. Work is not limited to the hours you spend in the studio.
–Kay Walkowiak, as told to Studio Beat
Photos by Cari Pittillo
Visit Kay Walkowiak’s website here.