There are few things in life I enjoy more than a good picnic: I’m talking an excessive amount of sun and good cheese on a lazy Sunday afternoon. But a picnic that is truly a social practice, forcing you to consider yourself in that moment as well as the meaning of life and art – that is really something. Such is the work of social practice and installation artist Katrina Neumann, which includes everything from sunrise tours to afternoons on a blanket in a park and readings from books on fictional travels.
Kicking back in the WYE building where Katrina is currently participating in a three month residency program and showing a new body of work, “Greetings from South Carolina,” the artist and I sit side by side, discussing just how she got to Berlin and what being here means to her.
BAP: How did you get started as an artist?
KN: My story goes way back, but I guess I never really feel like I started young. Ultimately it was in college that I really started to become an artist. I was taking graphic design and painting, and I realized “Oh, if I can do this for the rest of my life, I will.” But, I didn’t think it was possible because I grew up in the south, with a Republican family that was more traditional; and when you come from there, you’re either a teacher or a government worker. So being an artist didn’t seem possible at all.
BAP: You credit university with inciting your artistic career. What did you study?
KN: At first it was theater, but soon I realized that I’m not a triple threat – I can’t really sing, I can’t dance, and so it didn’t seem like theater was a good place for me. So, I decided to see what was next for me. I’ve always loved art, and I was always good at it. When I was really young, my older brother was an artist and he would always draw things really well, and my aunt was an artist too. I always wanted to do that, and I often tried, but I always sort of felt like I was under the shadow of my older brother. I would do something, but then he would do the same thing ten times more magnificently. I always felt like I was struggling to be the artist in my family. So, eventually, I ended up going to school for art and getting my Master’s degree.
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