Elke Krasny is a cultural theorist, curator, urbanist and author, based in Vienna. She researches on the interrelations of architecture, urban space, issues of cultural identity and representation, engaged art practices, gender and world fairs, museums and exhibitions as cultural formations.
Yulia Kostereva: In your article for publication "Other Places" you mention the connection between "where" and "where from", can you tell a bit more about it.
Elke Krasny: I mean I talk about this considering a very specific local situation of the street I worked with. It's one of these streets in transformation. In central Europeans cities there are a lot of streets in transformation. I would say starting after 1989 with new waves of immigration, coming into places on the one hand, so there are flows of immigrants, but on the other hand also the way of citizens use cities, changed tremendously. Because they don't do their "local" shopping any long over, as they used to do it, but just go to the malls that are on periphery. So, in a way the question where and where from was a very site specific question. Who are the people who make a street today, where do they come from and what are their urban knowledge, urban histories they bring with them. But, I think on the meta-level of talking is it, the question "where" and "where from" is very much the question about how do we perceive what the everyday constituted of. I mean how do you map at era, and what did you say this is where we are, this is to here and where. And where does it come from, I mean what are we influences that sort of come together in order to shape it. And you just said that one of your projects dealt with issue of local and global. And a lot of urban researchers but also artists have used this expression of local and global, how they not only come together but I think they are also in a very dialectic relationship of influencing each other. So, I guess all the locals whatever they are in this world now, shape the relations or curve the relations to what they perceive to be the global. So you could say there are as many globals as there are locals, because they are shaped all this from the local prospective. And it was way not only reacting with them towards the global, but also constituting actually what it is. So it's a very transformational or transitional "where" and "where from" that people navigating and I think produce over and over again from one day to the next.
Yulia Kostereva: Do these notions also connected with notion of time, like: "where from" it's a past and "where" it's direction to the future.
Elke Krasny: I think it's both. It has to do with lacationality, it has to do with place, but as you just point it out, it has a lot with, where do we actually come from, not only historically, in the very past, like the long past, but there also in the near past if you will, so where do you came from yesterday, and where will you go to, tomorrow, if you will.
Yulia Kostereva: We have told about the fact that contemporary art is not always positively perceived by the audience, and not only in Ukraine. What tasks it raises for artists?
Elke Krasny: But I think the question is: what do we define as a contemporary art. Your question opens up a lot of questions. I mean, you could say there is, or has to be an accelerated art market, that in a very- very fast way absorbed everything that supposedly don't used. So, you could say the attitude toward the contemporary is one that actually needs something that is contemporary in a very fast production, or an accelerated production. And on the other hand you could say there is publics in plural, that might not be exposed to what contemporary art is, and don't really know how to judge it or how to link it to what they have known before. So I guess when artists who work with public realms, or with politically conscious questions, or with socially engaged art practices, they are actually at the fore front of, not only producing their art, but also producing their audience, along the way. And then I think they are in immediate sometimes maybe even in very spontaneous dialogue, to find out what this contemporary is, for both of them, for them as artists but also for their audience. And I guess if you create the space that I would call the dialogical space, for artists and audience move back and forth, and have this exchange to create the situation, that for me would be a very contemporary practice. But I think there is a wide range of contemporary practices that are very-very different from each other.
Yulia Kostereva: What is the connection between art and the place in which it is produced? How important this relationship is?
Elke Krasny: Well if I answer this question in a very personal way, I would say I always try to work as local as possible. So that means if you go to the place, or also if you work in the place where you are originally from, I think for me it's always important to study, analyzed, to find out as much as I possibly can. And I try to go beyond that, I mean not to stop where I do now is, but to think together with others how can you transcend its boundaries, limitations, or constraints. So I guess in a way it's very important to know where you are, but I think "where you are" not should also impute you or hinder you, to think beyond that. And I think that exactly the space where also art, another cultural practices of play an important role to question limitations or to curve out a way of creating something that is not confined by what is always here.
Yulia Kostereva: You often work with archives. Is this important for artist to have these links to the previous culture, artistic tradition?
Elke Krasny: Well, I'm not interested in archives for nostalgic reasons, I'm interested in archive let say for strategic reasons, and what can you actually learn about past when you thinking of an archive. When I worked with women in Vancouver, it was not about creating an archive for archive's save, but it was about thinking what are actually claims, demands, that they had in the past, and that they realized that they made come true, very strong political demands. So in that sense I think even if you want to separate yourself from the past or if you want to cut off this continuity, it's important to know what was there, otherwise you will not know in what way you are actually different, or in what way you are actually question what the past was. Again I'm not obsessed with a past for any kind of nostalgia, but I think it allows you for a different critical space to operate out of.