Warsaw: On the other side of the internet I met Hanna Kaszewska. I got the contact through my institute, which is caring for good relations to the Polish pendant, the Instytut Edukacji Artystycznej. Hanna also took part in a networking project called words and places just some weeks ago.
The Polish participants were asked to formulate questions in form of words combined with certain places in the city.
Our task was to reply to those words by creating our own and placing them in Leipzig.
I could say the project succeeded since I actually went to Warsaw and actually talked to one of the people, that I’ve only seen on pictures.
Me and Hanna had coffee at a place that reminded me of Dr. Seltsam in Leipzig (half bike-workshop, half bar) and talked about the complex issues that come along with studying art education (if you had any idea!). Before she discovered the pretty unknown and underestimated field of art education, she had studied psychology.
Not only artists, but especially art mediators have an issue with calling themselves “artists”. It was almost inevitable to ask about that.
Hanna is still not sure and in the process of learning to accept herself as an artist. “I don’t want to make the impression of being full of myself.” She thinks that the most critical people that judge, if something is art or not, might be the ones that do not dedicate much of their time to art, or stopped at some point and are not on a level with the ideas and performance of contemporary art these days.
I remember Luka from Ljubljana saying that you need a certain appreciation for your work and that it is not up to you to call yourself an artist. And on the other hand I remember Philipp from Vienna who is too much of a Beuys fan to doubt, or let’s say to worry about if he’s an artist or not.
Hanna added that the ones who would have the least problem with this entitlement are the ones who are artists themselves.
“You don’t really need as much as you think you do.”
After figuring that out, she showed me some of her latest work:
About 400 square sheets of paper, with delicate drawings. Facets of mental health. Almost pictogram-like she illustrated states, gestures, feelings, sensations and situations that can be found or experienced in examination with psyche, in context of a psychiatry clinic for example.
Some of them showing sensory organs, hands and heads, crossing with lines and patterns, others showing body postures, movements in sequences, parts of the surrounding, objects in use. Mysterious images, hard to read but not hard to empathize with.
Hanna prefers small formats and minimal design. When I showed her Quints collage she told me that she also started doing collages but was afraid that she could put too much on a sheet of paper. It was hard to chose only few elements, because they would actually have to be very well selected.
“You don’t really need as much as you think you do.” Analog to her minimalistic drawings, she also does living without much furniture, decoration or the usual “stuff”.
“Sometimes it’s better to do the drawing again, but finish it first, instead of thinking about that you’re doing it wrong”.
She started with the actual drawing right away, no sketches. She likes to make drawings as some kind of research, by repeating the process, she finds ways to simplify and improve her motives.
“Sometimes it’s better to do the drawing again, but finish it first, instead of thinking about that you’re doing it wrong”. She said sometimes, by making mistakes you can get interesting ideas. You don’t need to erase it if it doesn’t please you, you can just do it again and improve what you think needs to be improved.
With this method Hanna started to work silently for some time.
Quints collage about the struggle between men and women had inspired her to illustrate aspects of strength and weakness, but detached from gender labels.
Instead she searched for gestures and body parts and postures that would express whether strength or weakness in common.
She got some of her ideas from the collage directly, some she added from her own imagination. She produced a whole row of drawings, sorting them out in the end.
One face and six states of mind were left. From Top to bottom they would become more complex and detailed. I asked Hanna about the lines in the background and their purpose. She responded that in some states one can feel very disconnected from the outer world. Sometimes you feel separated from anything outside of your body and sometimes you can be diffuse, “blending” with the background. The lines in her drawing kind of show the position and the conduct of the body to the surrounding.
“Transitional” maybe in the manner of things blending into and out of each other, bodies, moments, sensations, positions, movements and meanings.