Viktoria Draganova (VD): Your practice, lately, shows you are more and more interested in space. What is your notion about space – as private space, or the space of the studio?
Lavinia Lanner (LL): My thoughts on space start with very simple measurements – being myself. For my big drawings, for instance, I consciously choose 170cm high formats, just as my body height. The width is just the span of my arms. This way, I do not only make sure I am able to handle the papers by myself but create an imprint of myself which is then filled with what I do – drawing.
One of my recent series is called “Your secret, perched in ecstasy” and its works deal a lot with what is not shown, as you see only their wrapped version. Thoughts on what to disclose, what to share and what not are recurring in my artistic practice. For this series, analogously to my body measurements, I used my studio as measure for the paper, utilising the maximum height of 340cm. In a way, the studio has become somewhat of an extension of my limbs, my shell and cocoon.
VD: I also observe you transform space through structuring, interrupting, layering it. When did you start working with such strategies, and how do you see them further developed
LL: The first work using space in its integrity was an installation I created for an art festival in an old factory complex in Salzburg two years ago. The installation consisted of 21 paper webs of a very thin, almost see-through kind. On it, drawn elements of expressive strokes, which in theory would add up to a concrete lettering, which isn’t fully disclosed, as they were fragmentarily assembled. Visitors moved through this maze in very slow speed, as the fragility of the material was so present in the room. The papers were also moving with every tiny movement or even a breath around them. This is something I would like to work on further. Involving the audience in a way to make the work complete. Letting them perform a choreography without them even consciously knowing.
VD: It occurs to me that it's not just about space, but how we move through it. How is our movement through space - as individuals but also as a community – choreographed through your drawings?
LL: It has a lot to do with a collective experience. In the aforementioned installation, movement took place at an unconsciously chosen and agreed upon pace - a mindful state. The tension in the room is held up by each individual, common agreement and common coordination, i.e. moving at a certain speed through the shared space. It is no longer about a single work or an individual, but – and yes, this might sound cheesy – it all becomes one. In slow-motion! Talking about it makes me instantly want to install it again. I am currently working on a quite similar intervention where I develop this thought of motion further, to be shown in spring.
Another, very early manifestation of time, speed and slowness, is my series of drawn brushstrokes. Expressive gestures are meticulously reconstructed by single pencil lines. The result might seem similar at first sight, but the closer you look, the more the layers of time peel off. A dilatation and expansion of time as we know it. Even though the act of drawing is the repetition of only a very small movement of my hand and wrist, the imagination of my whole body making the gigantic strokes is very present. This physical element – being it executed or hypothetical is a very idiosyncratic one in my drawing practice.
VD: I also think about the work “NOW” where a word appears as a still and makes us curious for things and appearances beyond the paper. What type of practice of looking at art are you interested in?
LL: By creating surfaces, structure, bundles of lines, including geometrical shapes, sharp angles and outlines, I am very well aware about leading other’s gazes. What interested me in the work NOW was to outsource parts of the perception of the work to beyond the format as such. The letters are cut, what you see is only the very centre of the word. Undoubtedly, there is something preceding this moment of perception of the work now and more will follow. I am interested in encapsulating time, in reducing it to its solidified version of itself, as I am interested in it passing. Oftentimes, the drawn shapes are floating, almost in a vacuumized or frozen state. I very much like works that get something like a pause or a deep breath going and create an intimate moment between myself and its physical presence in front of or around me.
VD: In one of your last projects, you included performance in the installation. What was your aim, what type of experience did you want to create, and how does performance relate to your practice in general?
LL: In this particular project with the title AS OF NOW, the aim was to add an ephemeral element to my rather static works of the past. Not only did the performer set the exhibition up during the course of the performance, she also rearranged it several times to the point where she completely dismantled it again. When is the exhibition an exhibition? Is there a peak or is what we see a sequence of a variety of possible exhibitions? These questions and many more were at the core of this project. The concept of the whole was elaborated in close collaboration with the performance artist, leading to extensive conversations about complex correlations and expectations we have of different genres, to find out that even if certain attributions (performance = movement, drawings = static - to break it down) are no longer (or have never been) carved in stone, but still are very present. Pushing these boundaries or, let’s say, allowing a certain fluidity, was our main focus.
Another difference to my installation mentioned earlier is that in the performance piece the element of movement was a very planned and conducted one. The elaborate choreography served a distinct function, leading through the parcours of our dialogue and our results at that time.
VD: If we move from space to time, we could notice that time for you is related to deceleration. This is the contrary to the acceleration of the neo-liberal economy, would you think of your practice as a response to something you observe more generally about the current state of society? Do you try to translate your notion of time into movement, and how?
LL: I am convinced that, as a part of society at a certain time, in my practice I reflect phenomena that are present on a collective level. Of course, with a magnifying lens on the points of my interest – being it personal or as a professional artist. Yes, maybe there is a subliminal collective wish for deceleration and analogue, tactile experience. I might be expressing something in representation for many others or even anticipating it – but isn’t that what art has always been about?
Repetition and a certain ritualised procedure accompany my daily work in the studio. The urge of putting things, material, pencils, lines in order and sorting them, is probably a thing many people know. So yes, when the outside is somewhat chaotic and a loss of control is imminent, a possible reaction is bringing one’s direct environment in order. What seems pleasing and aesthetically satisfying in my drawings though, is often only the appearance of the graphite surface – being shiny and smooth. The overall shape isn’t necessarily. Unknown, frightening objects are not uncommon in my imagery. How these two opposite conceptions come together and provoke something in the viewers, is what interests me most.
The connection of time and movement you mention is probably an attempt of embodying time by means of movement. The translation of time into movement helps me making time comprehensible and concrete through that bodily experience. The body as transformation tool of our perception. Wow, has drawing always been that complex? [laughs]