Kunstsammlung NRW
Katharina Hinsberg im Gespräch, Foto: Kunstsammlung / Arnika Fürgut
artists, live

„Feldern“ in the Kunstsammlung: 3 questions for the artist Katharina Hinsberg

Whoever enters the space of the "Laboratory" in the second story of the K20 am Grabbeplatz will perhaps begin by perceiving a very faint rustling sound. The soft, almost incidental noise is caused by currents moving through the air-conditioning system, which set into gentle motion the fine tissue paper that is mounted in stacks around the room up to ceiling height. 

The artist Katharina Hinsberg – who was born in Karlsruhe, and currently works at the Raketenstation Hombroich (former NATO missile base) before Düsseldorf's city gates – has created a new work for the "Laboratory" of the K20. "Feldern (Farben)" (Fields (Colors)) is the title of this installation, within which each visitor is induced to play a special part. Is the title "Feldern" intended as a neologism (i.e., as a German verb meaning roughly "to field")? As an invitation to visitors to this space?

Yes, for the stacks of paper consist of square fields, each composed of 28 thin sheets of colored paper. Visitors may remove one or more layers, but never more than the rules of the game permit. At the beginning, the room was white, during a second stage, the sheets can be removed only down to the second, black layer. Every week, a new color emerges. Generated during the exhibition through visitor participation, then (as so often in projects of the exhibition space of the department of education), is a work of art in a state of perpetual change.

During preparations, #32 met Katharina Hinsberg for an interview. To begin with, she explained that we found ourselves in the midst of more than 74,000 sheets of paper.

#32: You work along the interface between drawing and installation art. How did this work coming into being?

Katharina Hinsberg: The installation "Feldern" was preceded by a floor piece I realized for the Museum Ritter in Waldenbuch near Stuttgart. There, I worked with tissue paper, which lay on the floor in layers of different colors. At defined intervals, the uppermost layer was crumpled into balls which remained resting on the now differently colored paper ground. In this way, accumulating in the course of time was a carpet of colored balls of crumpled paper on a continually changing ground. On the one hand, Feldern (Farben) (Fields (Colors)) emerged from my concrete experience with this project, while on the other, it was the result of expanded visual questions, for example concerning grounds and patterns. Playing essential roles, of course, were both the stipulations of the invitation issued by the Kunstsammlung, as well as the specific characteristics of the space of the "Laboratory."

#32: Through visitor participation, the work is continually transformed. What happens to the sheets of paper that are torn way? Is there a way back?

Katharina Hinsberg: There is no way back, the paper is irrevocably removed, and existing states are hence deleted. Each participatory visitor, therefore, can respond to previous states, or overwrite them. Within the overall conception, 'wrong' decisions simply do not exist. But within individual design concepts, 'mistakes' can certainly arise which are incorrect in the context of the paradigm, and which are in fact produced only through it. But these often represent interesting, productive moments, because it becomes possible to override the rules, or even to develop something different out of them. I'm eager to see how the handling of these possibilities develops.

#32: You are working with visitors in this form for the first time. Do you have any sense of how the space will look at the conclusion of the exhibition?

Katharina Hinsberg: Actually, I don't work with visitors at all; instead I surrender the work to a participative, creative process, from which I then withdraw as an artist. This degree of openness is new to me. Up until now, I produced a series of installations over which the construction team or the visitors could exercise creative influence via their handling of the work. I'm eager to see how this process develops now in the Laboratory. Actually, aside from the few rules, only the inception and conclusion of the project are predetermined, the two 'white' states of the room: at the start, the white of the uppermost sheets, beneath which the potential of color still 'sleeps,' and finally, the white of the uncovered wall. In any event, I assume that in the end, the room will be entirely white.

Where does one begin to "field"? Do I want the other visitors to notice the transformation immediately, or would I prefer undertaking an initial intervention that is concealed, to begin by practicing, for example, alongside the fire extinguisher, where no one can see?

#32 author Alissa Krusch, who visited Katharina Hinsberg during exhibition preparations, is confident that this laboratory project will exercise a special fascination, one that will reward a 3rd, 4th, or even 5th visit. She is particularly excited about the "analyses" that will be performed by a camera installed at a fixed point, which will document the various states of the work over time. The resulting time lapse film will be published by #32 at the project's conclusion.

text and interview: Alissa Krusch
photos: Arnika Fürgut and artist