Interview with Konrad Juściński
Poznań, Poland, 01.10. 2019
Q: Why / when / how did you start to work with performance, what is your background, how did you arrive at doing performance?
I started working with performance while studying at the University of Arts in Poznań in 1998. I studied Design but had the opportunity to study Fine Arts simultaneously. I was very interested in combining my experiences in the field of design and visual arts. I was lucky that I got to be part of one of the best sculpture and environmental studios in Poland. At that time it was the studio of Professor Jan Berdyszak in the Department of Sculpture and Spatial Activities. It was a very special time as I performed at my first festivals and had important teachers in performance such as Janusz Bałdyga.
Q: What is your process like when you make a performance, from idea to actual work?
I usually start my work with an impulse, questions that I can't answer verbally. These are associations, intuitions, daydreaming or problems that are important to me at the moment. I never touch upon issues related to politics, religion or current trends.
Q: Can you tell us about your latest project?
I am moving away from performance and working more with objects and installations. I like calm and my inner silence. With the invitation of Johannes Deimling I performed my latest performance in Dresden in the Theaterakademie. It was a work called Incarnate. I worked with a large black balloon (which I use often), models of human bones, sticks and sound. The sound was generated from a device that I made myself. I was interested in the problem of body debris, the remains of the body and delicacy, transience. I wanted to show how unsteadiness and instability can exist within a body form.
Q: What role does performance art have in your life / artistic praxis? Do you also work within other fields, like installation, sculpture, drawing, and other expressions? How do they influence / inform each other?
Performance is not a privileged form for me, but a very important medium and irreplaceable in relation to anything else. My background is in architecture and design. I am also a painter and sculptor. I create installations, textiles and video. The technique is not important to me. I believe that art is one and there are no divisions by medium. In the case of performance it is important that it makes me aware of the passage of time. Performance allows me to remember my days as unique moments in life.
Q: With what kind of form / material do you express yourself and use in your work and how did you arrive at using this material?
I like to refer to materials with a natural origin at work. I often use soil, plants, smell and sound. In my works I combine materials that are on the edge of different worlds (analog and digital). I often look for materials in my immediate surroundings, i.e. in a family home. The soil that I used for my work was an idea from my mother who once a year at spring baked soil at a high temperature in the oven. The smell of this baked soil was so powerful and specific that I started to use it in my work. The plants (gourds), which I've used as my objects, were grown by my dad in the garden. I made masks for performance from dandelions which I collected myself in the surrounding fields and meadows. I also like experiments so as much as I can I combine it with electronic objects.
Q: How do you experience or consider the audience / surrounding? What space / surrounding do you find interesting to work in? How does your surrounding influence your work? Do you involve the public? If so, how?
I often search for places for my work myself. I like working in places not intended for artistic purposes. Sometimes these are spaces in the city or in nature. I worked in the underground of Tokyo, in the subway in Stockholm or in a tree in the city of Poznań. I don't need a clean, white gallery box. Working in context with a random audience is not easy, and I don't always need an audience for my work. In my opinion the best works are created without an audience.
Q: Where do you take your performance?
I don't know where I'm going because I've never been there.
I understand my performance activities as my own, authorial search for images and questions that particularly interest me that cannot be expressed in any other way. Experiencing what I feel is revealed through performance and leaves a special record of moments. Through such treatments it is easier for me to realize where I was and where I was going at the moment of my life. I don't think of performance art as something permanent. On the one hand I see it as an optimization, on the other hand it is constant change and searching. In a sense, a comparable phenomenon is the concept of breath. The nature of breath is its duration, but deprived of the possibility of "going out and coming back" disappears. That's how I describe the concept of art.