Gudrun Cyprian interviews Elisabeth Bala (I)Published on July 7, 2020
"bionics" – Nature and Technology
6 drawings of cactus fruits, in pairs, natural and structural. (E. Bala) Exhibition: "Technology # Female # Logical - Women and Technology in the Metropolitan Region", Museum Frauenkultur Regional-International, 2020
for decades, you have been collaborating on exhibitions in the museum "Women's Culture Regional – International," contributing via several functions:
You accompany the respective curators in the development of the exhibition, make suggestions, and are closely involved in the work process in terms of content and exhibition technology.
Every year, we ask you to design a logo for that year’s exhibition as an optical hook for its theme. This log characterizes the exhibition’s public persona and further “sharpens” the concept, summing it up.
Once the exhibition’s “outline” exists, you design its visual, graphic design language, the poster, the flyer and finally the catalog. You are our "boss" and favorite graphic designer. Your style makes our museum unique.
And at the same time, you are in demand as an artist who uses her knowledge and contacts to attract others’ artistic contributions, related to the exhibition theme. And you often provide us with a picture, a series of pictures, or other works of yours for the exhibition itself. You have dealt with the topics from the beginning and contribute surprisingly new thoughts to the exhibition by way of your art.
For us at the association, your multi-talented and far-ranging commitment are wonderful! But we have had one question for you for a long time:
How do you manage to integrate these very different tasks over and over again?
you assign being “multi-talented” to me individually. But it emerges from my being a member of a multicultural, multidisciplinary and therefore multitalented team in the form of our “Women in One World” association.
The creative flexibility attested to me could have its cause in the duality that I gained from my two separate courses of study; specifically, graphic design at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna, followed by the study of painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Nuremberg.
My graphic design studies began with an intensive examination of the craft of handwriting: the choice of writing material, the concentration on the imagined and the written word, the concentration on hand movements gliding over paper, the character of the script or font, the need to wait for the writing fluid to dry, or the despair when work failed on the last or penultimate stroke. The sound of words, the linguistic elements, newspaper reports, etc. – which usually trigger visual ideas in me – have remained with me from this time, for use in my own unique artistic work
Unlike teamwork, artistic work is a very lonely and individual process. I don't want to go into further depth here on the extent to which the recognition of what is valued as art, in turn depends on public opinion.
It may sound ironic.But it’s true that "switching" between two art disciplines allowed me to finance my life as a freelance painter through other freelance work at first: as a graphic designer and as a museum educator in different museums, starting with my specialization on art and cultural education mediation (“KpZ in GNM”), which was still a speculative field at the time.
As all these rather different experiences in art, culture and design echo within me, my commitment to the association and the women's museum is sure to evolve as well. I am happy to point to my interest in the content [of the exhibitions] as the main motivation for my work here. But the teamwork that leads to the realization of a project through collaboration and the pooling of efforts matters just as much.
text: © Gudrun Cyprian, Frauen in der Einen Welt, one of the curators of the exhibition
© Text and Photos by Elisabeth Bala, Frauen in der Einen Welt
Translation from the original German: Steffen Meyer