Interview with Silvia Binda Heiserova

BERLIN BLUE art
May 28, 2017 1:59PM

With her new works, Silvia visualizes an experience with the urban environment, which is based on a personal observation but goes beyond the subjective and approaches a universal feeling of discomfort. We talked to her about her works in her studio in Bratislava.

1. Your exhibition is about the urban space and how history and collective memory manifest themselves there. How did you find these topics and what discoveries did you make?

While I was still studying, I was intensively studying the city's psychogeographic cartography. From this came a collective artistic project where we identified the development of the feminist movement of a concrete city historically and geographically. This led to the question: why are some events or persons immortalized in the urban space while others are forgotten? This led to the knowledge that it is mostly men who receive a dedicated commemorative monument, after whom streets, squares and institutions are named, while women are a striking minority in urban symbolism. This is regarded as a universal phenomenon of western metropols, so one could argue that the underrepresentation of women in the urban space is repetitive and systematic.

2. On the subject of urban space / architecture and gender: what exactly is the male-dominated city? How could a counter-design or a balanced model look like?

Public life in the city was for a long time regarded as the territory of the men, while the domestic space was the place where the woman (the housewife, the mother) belonged. When we look back in history, women did not have equal access to public life, they did not have the same opportunities to participate in urban life, to use the urban space, and certainly not to shape it. All this influences the functional, visual and symbolic level of urban life, even to this day. The city has the original purpose of being productive, rational, effective, intellectual, fast and active, which are all attributes traditionally associated with masculinity. The visual and symbolic levels of the urban elements shape the perception of the sexes in the way they are represented. These elements include commemorative manifestations, such as monuments, statues, busts and street names, which are reminiscent of the male presence and patriarchal power. I believe that the inclusion of women in the image of the urban should happen within a natural process that reflects the current state of society and therefore can not be enforced, ordered or planned. The question is - are we as a society willing to accept and publicly appreciate active, self-confident, self-determined, intellectual women in positions of power as a desired image of women? The feminist exertions of the past few decades have changed a great deal, and I hope that we are on the right track, even if, in my opinion, the change is still too slow.

3. Do you call yourself a feminist? If so, what role does it play for your art?

To have a feminist consciousness and to live it everyday is self-evident to me and much more important than to declare myself as a feminist, which is a concept that is now popularized and confused. For if you go into details, there are many different feminisms, such as equality feminism, difference feminism, individual feminism to post-feminism, which are categories that confuse me and I do not identify with all. For me, feminism is a form of critical thinking against the historically masculinely dominated society in which we live, which shapes us. This refers to every aspect of life, especially to everyday life, where we are in various social situations, contacts, environments and power relations. Thanks to the feminist movement, we have been able to develop a consciousness which enables us to question the given reality both individually and collectively, to defy prescribed norms and to make changes. My artistic ideas and concepts are clearly feminist by critically questioning the patriarchal society and its manifestations. With my work, I intend to visualize an experience with the urban environment, which is based on a personal observation but goes beyond the subjective and approaches a universal feeling of discomfort. Whether it is a geometrically abstract vision of the gloomy nightly fragmented city, a decontextualized image of the exaggeratedly symmetrical bust, or a play with the color symbolism of restriction and danger.

4. How do you proceed? How do you get from an idea to a work to a series? When did you discover the modular principle and why do you use it?

At the beginning of an idea is a concrete encounter with a phenomenon of the urban environment with which I am currently working. This I then document audiovisually or photographically and then work out of this material. An important part of my process involves the gathering of information and theoretical knowledge on the chosen subject as an aid to my concept. I try to define a framework of the visual concept by defining the key terms, such as repetition, symmetry, constraint, binarity, fragmentation, and apply it in the creative process. The use of the modular principle allows me to have a direct variability of composition and symbolic meaning. The individual parts of a modular composition have their own content, which is then supplemented and strengthened in conjunction with the remaining parts. At the same time, the modular concept represents a dynamic of change in time and space, the constituent elements do not remain static, they are in motion. Nothing is unchangeable.

5. Regarding reception: Is it important to you that your works are viewed and understood in a particular way? If so, which one?

Certainly, I am not insisting on a pre-determined way to interpret my works. Each interpretation is individual, personal and subjective in its own way, which is ultimately an enriching factor, as I can discover new levels and contents of the works, which I was perhaps not aware of before. Nevertheless, I try to give the audience a thematic framework, through the titles of the works, the selection of the visual vocabulary and the series as a whole. The series is intended to bring together individual fragments that as a whole tell a story, make a statement and stimulate reflection.

Silvia Binda Heiserova in her studio in Bratislava

Silvia Binda Heiserova
Hide I, 2016
BERLIN BLUE art
Silvia Binda Heiserova
Vera Janacópulos, 2016
BERLIN BLUE art
Silvia Binda Heiserova
Urban Memory 3, 2017
BERLIN BLUE art
Silvia Binda Heiserova
Raymundo Corrêa II, 2016, 2016
BERLIN BLUE art
Silvia Binda Heiserova
Grid I, 2017
BERLIN BLUE art
BERLIN BLUE art