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The Opening Response: Kasya Denisevich

The Opening Response titles a special series of interviews with artists, curators, writers, composers, mediators, and space-makers around the world. Dialoguing within and around the thematics which have rapidly emerged as a consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic, we offer within this frame a differentiated, honest, and beautiful bid at understanding. Weekly, distinct doors are opened into the lives of the contributors; into their experiences dawning on pleasure, productivity, metaphysics, and paradigmatic shifts. Hopefully, these conversations can act as way-posts and lead to furthered empathy, unison, and co-creation. The Opening Response meets the need for weaving the autonomy of a web of conscious communications in times of extreme perplexity.

Kasya Denisevich is a philologist, translator and graphic artist. She was born and brought up in Moscow, Russia, where she studied comparative literature at Russian State University for the Humanities and spent years pursuing an academic career in Italian studies and translating books. Later she moved to Barcelona, Spain and her professional life took a sharp turn towards graphic arts and illustration. She continued studies at the Escola Massana in Barcelona, then at MiMaster in Milan.

Kasya illustrated several books for young readers, her work as an illustrator was awarded and showcased on various Book Fairs (including Bologna Children’s Book Fair in 2017). Her debut picture book Neighbors, a story about a little girl’s inner experience when her family moves into a new building, will be released in USA by Chronicle Books on September 22, 2020.

 

Josseline Black – In this phase of forced isolation, how are you articulating your response in a public discourse? What is your role in this larger conversation?

Kasya Denisevich – My role is small just like everyone else’s. I actually think that this is the moment to embrace your own smallness and vulnerability, to be humble, to let go. To stop believing in human omnipotence and in your own ability to be in control. It is the only redemptive response in any discourse, emotional or public, to the current state of affairs.

JB – Has your artistic practice changed through isolation?

KD – I immediately turned back to my personal projects instead of the commissioned ones. I hope none of my commissioners will read this.

JB – How has your practical capacity to produce work been affected by the pandemic?

KD – It hasn’t.

JB – What is your approach to collaboration at the moment?

KD – Collaboration generally doesn’t come easy to me; I rarely meet people who reach me. But of course, this collective experience will produce many collaborations, and having lived through this intense time alongside other people will have an impact on me too.

JB – How would you define the present moment, metaphysically/literally/symbolically?

KD – At the present moment I am sitting in my living room, where I have been almost continuously for the last 10 days and where, as far as I can predict now, I am going to be for weeks and maybe months. I know exactly how the light changes here at different times of the day. I watch the flowers that I bought before the lockdown wilt. I eat and work and talk to my daughters here. I have never been so present here before.

I think that this moment is the one that everyone is very present in.

JB – Do you see the potential for renewed support for cultural production in spite of macro and micro economies which are currently rapidly restructuring?

KD – Of course I do. Everything always goes back to normal. The question is how much time it will take, but I don’t want to speculate on this, the air is oversaturated with speculations these days.

JB – E.M Cioran writes: “in major perplexities, try to live as history were done with and to react like a monster riddled by serenity”, how do you respond to this proposal?

KD – Usually I find myself very far from Cioran’s pessimism. I enjoy finding connections, signs, links, rhymes – call it meaning or call it poetry, in life. But I have to say that congenial perplexity might just be the comforting position now. So, I ask myself: what would a monster riddled with serenity do today? Well, my only guess is art.

JB – How is your utilization of technology and virtuality evolving the paradigm within which you produce work?

KD – These days I try to stay as far from technology as possible. I think this sensorial deprivation together with hyperactivity of social media makes me appreciate physical contact with objects even more.

JB – What is your position on the relationship between catastrophe and solidarity?

KD – Solidarity is important, of course. But the beauty of the present moment to me is not in being together, it’s in being apart but synchronized. I just like to imagine how many people around the globe are staring at the wall right now. How many people are in the same silence, solitude and, hopefully, introspection.

JB – What is your utopia now?

KD – It’s so hard to think about utopias when the world is suddenly up in the air. You become nostalgic of all things normal.

 

Josseline Black-Barnett is a contemporary curator, writer, and researcher. She holds an M.A. in time-based media from the Kunst Universität Linz and a B.A. in Anthropology (specialization Cotsen Institute of Archaeology) from the University of California Los Angeles. She operated for five years as in-house curator of the international artistic residency program at the Atelierhaus Salzamt (Austria) wherein she had the privilege of working closely with a number of brilliant artists. Included in her duties within the institution she allocated and directed the Salzamt hosting of the E.U. CreArt mobility for artists program. As a writer, she has reviewed exhibitions and co-edited texts for Museu Nacional de Arte Contemporânea do Chiado, Portugal, Madre Museum Naples, the Museums Quartier Vienna, MUMOK, Guimarães Gallery, Gallery Michaela Stock. She is regular theoretical contributor to the Contemporary Art Magazine Droste Effect. In addition, she has published with Interartive Malta, OnMaps Tirana, Albania, and L.A.C.E (Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions). In tandem to her curatorial practice and writing, she has for the past decade used choreography as a research tool inquiring into the ontology of the performing body with a focus on embodied cartographies of public memory and space. She has held research residencies at the East Ugandan Arts Trust, the Centrum Kultury w Lublinie, the University of Arts Tirana Albania, and the Upper Austrian Architectural Forum. It is her privilege to continue developing her approach to curatorship which derives from an anthropological reading of art production and an ethnological dialectic in working with cultural content generated by art makers. Currently, she is developing the methodology which supports the foundation of a performance-based trans-disciplinary platform for a spectral critique on art production.

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