Excerpts from an interview with Misal Adnan Yildiz, former director Künstlerhaus Stuttgart, and Eva Schmeckenbecher in: City of Nürtingen and Kunstverein Nürtingen (ed.): SIEHE INNEN / SEE INSIDE, Nürtingen 2014
MISAL ADNAN YILDIZ: How would you describe your practice, especially for those who are not involved with art in a professional way: Are you a photographer, or an artist dealing with photographic images?
EVA SCHMECKENBECHER: Photography is my topic, my medium and material. But I don’t see myself as a photographer. Yes, I do actions with and on pictures.
MAY: “Edgar” is like a violent poem; a portrait photo of a man is being transformed into many forms of painting. The painterly interventions deform the facial features, so some characteristic aspects of his face are replaced by elements of fantasy and subconscious. What can you tell us about the work “Edgar”? Is that connected to the tradition of portrait in modern art?
ES: The picture of Edgar was in stamp size part of a guest list for a family party, at that time he, however, was already dead. The picture somehow touched me and triggered memories. I liked the mocking expression in his face. But maybe it also angered me. I thought of more facets of Edgar and I suddenly wanted to work on it, again and again … I’m wondering whether this could be compared to Voodoo cult or fetishism – because somehow I usurp the photo that the shown person represents and replaces. I carry out acts on the depicted person. I put many different layers and traces on the same picture, and in the video, I carry away a huge pile of these sheets. I’m mostly concerned about the complexity and the changeability of this person – and about my complex and contradictory relation to him. In this respect, this fits into the contemporary conception oft the portrait.
MAY: I know that you also work with different installation techniques … When does any form of photographic image become an installation? Can you talk about this process with examples from your work?
ES: In the studio, I’m confronted with a chaotic amount of photos, drawings, black and white copies, sketches, picture fragments etc. with different motives. Trying to sort out, to select and to work with them is a tiring, sensual and desperate fight. I fight against their suggestive power with which they are confusing, seducing, distracting, impressing, amazing, informing, triggering feelings, maintaining, covering or revealing. A huge photo tarp for example went like this: after many tries to get a grip on these pictures from my fund I finally taped them roughly together like a patchwork plaid. It has now become more a kind of object with spacial reference than a plane picture. Some work was created as a kind of side effect while trying to tidy up.
MAY: How will you comment on the transforming position of the audience from a receiver into a performer, is this also something you are interested in?
ES: This aspect does indeed interest me, there are several examples. For my installation at the exhibition “RE-CONVERSION” in AK2 in April 2013, I connected images of the room with the room itself. Winfried Stürzl put it better than I could: “When we move within the peculiar interlacing between spacial and pictorial reality while also paying attention to our own experiencing and associating at the same time, we become more and more active ‘accomplices’ in the aesthetic room.” For him it was “the question of the constant redefining of the individual position during the process of perception.”
MAY: When do you feel to start a new production; how does an artistic idea find you?
ES: This can be on the road, in bed or when tidying up and viewing materials. It starts with perceptions which attract intuitively my attention. And in conversations. After a while, I realize that something is in the making.
Translation: Viola Thomas