September 2017 Artist In Residence: Cornelia Lein

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This month we are welcoming Cornelia Lein as our artist-in-residence!

Cornelia Lein is a visual artist based in Vienna, Austria. Her works are based on found objects and include digital collage, photography, installation and writing. She studied fine arts at the University of Applied Arts Vienna and at University of Fine Arts in Brunswick (GER). In 2015 she founded the curatorial project ___TIM NOLAS. Her work has been exhibited within Europe at institutions and museums such as Villa Stuck in Munich, FAIT Galery in Brno, 21er Haus - Museum of Contemporary Art Vienna, MAK, Künstlerhaus and Kunsthalle Vienna and at the University of Fine Arts of Hamburg and Brunswick.

Read our Q & A with Cornelia to get some insight into her practice!

How did you first get interested in art and how has it developed into what you use for your art practice today?

I guess before I got into art I've always been drawn to visual peculiarities. Like how the light was changing the shiny glass bottles of my mum's perfumes that stood aligned on the shelf beneath the bathroom window. Also I've always loved to dig out special objects at flea markets and libraries and to showcase them in my room. The texts, images and objects that I use are still mostly stray finds. I can't help but keep an eye open for material anywhere I go, both on and offline.

Your artistic practice uses many mediums. What does photography do for you as an artist compared to the other art forms you choose to use in your work?

One of my major interests is to reflect on visual culture and its myths. When it comes to image production photography as number one medium tells a lot of different stories. Many people are still taking those pictures as objective witnesses in the context of the news as well as their social lives. I'm more interested in how images shape reality and how they can transform the portrayed into something hyperreal that's connected to our ideas of things. While working with text has rather sculptural qualities to me, taking a picture is more about focusing on certain aspects of something that's exposing itself in relation to what is left out. As I'm working a lot with found footage photography there's also an element of reviewing that interests me. Following up on someone else's decisions and putting them into a new perspective is challenging and fun.

Have you ever had a time where you had a creative block? If so, how did you overcome it? If not, how do you avoid it?

The image of the block imposes that as artists we are expected to be constant producers. The ideal artist is never running out of ideas or energy, magically recreating through work itself. It took me a long time to get rid of the idea of occupation. Instead I've become a fan of the concept of lazy efficiency. It basically imposes that most work is a waste of time. I try to be more intuitive about what I need in order to take best care of my ideas. There are days where it's best to stroll around the city, others to apply for funding or to meet the right person to discuss a project. If you're suffering from the idea that you need to be more productive, I find it helpful to keep track of the bigger picture. Looking at other people's work can be helpful to remember that everybody is really just putting on their trousers a leg at a time. Most people I know who are struggling with their process tend to be too hard on themselves. I'd suggest to take some time off and be more generous to you and your art.

What will you be working on during your residency at LATITUDE?

My work at the lab is connected to the project Perpetual Inventory of the Self, that I've been working on for some time. In reference to three outstanding historical miniature houses I'm following up narratives of storytelling through personal objects between private and exhibitory spaces. A different art work is attended to each house. At LATITUDE I'll be producing an edition on the Colleen Moore Dollhouse (Museum of Science and Industry) adapting the style of early warehouse catalogues. There will be also a blog involved in the process. Finally I'll continue the project in NYC with an installation on the Stettheimer Dollhouse (Museum of the City of New York) in October.

Are there any fun facts you would like to share with our community?

The picture I had of Chicago was mainly shaped by the 90's TV series Due South about a Canadian mountie who moves with his deaf wolf to Chicago to convict the murderer of his father. For some reason the series was a big success in Austria and Germany. When I'm walking down North Ave. I still can't help the feeling that someone on the rooftops is just about to be chased by a man in a red uniform and a white wolf.

Are there any current movies, books, magazines, or podcasts that you recommend for people to check out about art and/or photography?

I just recently saw I am Not Your Negro by Raoul Peck on James Baldwins project Remember This House. The movie provides a debatable approach by combining Baldwins writings with original footage and photography. For people who appreciate cinematography and are into the subject matter of imitation I can highly recommend Purple Noon (Plein soleil, 1960) an adaption of The talented Mr. Ripley by René Clement. One of my favorite photographers is dutch artist Viviane Sassen - who's work and books are overall worth checking out. And an artist book from 2014 that I like a lot is Burn the Diaries by Canadian artist Moyra Davey whom you probably already know. For art related mental hygiene I recommend

Lastly, you are visiting us from Austria, which is incredible! What are your favorite places to go there and what are some of your favorite dishes?

I grew up in Vienna, cosy green capital of Austria that is fun to explore for its diverse character between historical heritage and young urban art and music scene. The best place for experimental local and international music and arts is the donaufestival located a short trip outside of the city. As Vienna is surrounded by hilly vineyards you can taste the seasonal wines in a very down-to- earth atmosphere from spring to autumn at the one of the Heurigen while enjoying the views on the city. Generally the southern Alps contain a whole bunch of amazing lakes like turquoise Weissensee in Carynthia. However there is a breathtaking area in the midwest of Austria called Salzkammergut where dark lakes are meeting with massive sheer rock walls that I love.

When it comes to Austrian dishes I'm a big fan of pumpkin seed oil on scarlet tuner beans or pumpkin soup. I also like the more exotic parts of traditional Viennese cuisine that uses innards like blood sausage and fried kidney. For the faint-hearted I recommend spinach dumplings or the traditional sweet version: with apricot stuffed cream cheese dumplings.