Q&A with Transformer Station artist Esther Teichmann
TS: How do you define your practice as an artist?
ET: My work comes from the bodily, from autobiography and how we fictionalize our memories and experiences. I’m interested in playing with the slippage between the real and imagined. Photography is an ideal medium, having been born from that tension. The still and moving image, photography and painting, writing visually – I am interested in the in between-ness of things – when one thing becoming another.
TS: In order to create this show you worked with other creatives, a composer, musicians, writers and designers. Do you see yourself as a “producer” or a “collaborator”?
ET: The two are not mutually exclusive. I am always learning from and listening to others – that is the only way my work can evolve and I can stay excited. I choose the people I work with carefully, feeling a close affinity with them and between our practices. These relationships are absolutely collaborative, yet I retain an overarching vision. I know what I want the different pieces to evoke when in dialogue with one another, but it is always surprising to see everything come together.
TS: How has teaching influenced your work?
ET: Teaching is amazing and exhausting and amazing…and really exhausting. It is important for me to only teach part-time yet still be supported by the University in my research. Teaching is the biggest privilege, my students inspire me and teach me as much if not more than I teach them. The exchange with colleagues and access to facilities all support my work in various ways. It allows me to experiment and take risks without thinking about market constraints. It’s liberating in some ways whilst a compromise in others.
TS: Your exhibition, Heavy the Sea, evokes a mysterious world – is it autobiographical or pure fiction?
ET: My work is autobiographical as well as fictional – the two become inseparable and part of one another. The title is a translation from Rainer Maria Rilke’s Sonnets to Orpheus (1922). Many artists, poets and writers have drawn upon the myth of Orpheus to think about the relationship between risk and grief and the process of making (or writing). This exhibition referenced in part Rilke’s sonnets as well as Maurice Blanchot’s the Gaze of Orpheus.
1460 West 29 Street
Cleveland, OH 44113
Heavy the Sea: Works by Esther Teichmann: January 14 – April 30, 2017
Performance by OPUS 216: 2 pm March 4
Artist Talk: April 1, 2 pm
Performance by OPUS 216: 2 pm April 29