Interview with the artist Eva Schlegel
We met artist Eva Schlegel in her studio to gain insight into her "Cloudspace" pavilion installation, showcased in this roadmap, and to talk generally about the concept of adaptation.
Eva Schlegel, born in Tyrol, graduated from the University of Applied Arts in 1985. A Professor of Art and Photography at the Academy of Fine Arts until 2006, and the 2011 Commissioner for the Austrian Pavilion at the 54th Venice Biennale, Eva has completed numerous public art projects in Austria and abroad. To say that Eva is a formidable artist is an understatement.
Guido Kucsko: Eva, what is the meaning of "adapt" in your artistic work?
Eva Schlegel: You have to adapt to reality, understand it, see what you perceive, then work on it. Working with perception is what I do. I adapt elements from my surroundings, reinterpret them, and then use them in a different context.
This is a time of change for people, obviously in terms of nature too. When we saw your installation reflecting nature, this interested us in the context on adaptation.
You can only reflect nature if it stands in nature.
Positioning "Cloudspace" outdoors was important. The mirror dissolves itself. In a way you can't see it, you can't grab it. Where does it start and end? My goal was to open new spaces for perception. The way the mirrors are positioned opens endless spaces. On one side new views of the sky.
Your works can be found in Vienna at the parliament, the university and on museum buildings. How much does an artist have to adapt to the task at hand when it comes to public commissions?
You don't have to. I find an idea that works in a space and the given circumstances. There are many solutions for a space, and the most convincing idea wins. I find a unique language for myself and am my first critic, if it pleases me, ok. If a client doesn’t want it I try understand and then decide if I adapt it or not, but ultimately it's my decision. I suppose lawyers too give clients choices. A contract can be adapted to the client's requirements, and the lawyer has some freedom to adapt, be creative – but ultimately the lawyer is the expert and gets the definitive say.
Eva's work questions the limits of perception of common viewing habits. This ability to bring about a shift in a viewer's perspective is a triumph. When asked whether artists can change the world, Eva's reply, devoid of hesitation:
"Yes, everyday! Through our work, actions and our ways of existing."