16 / 11 / 02 – 15 / 12 / 02
Exhibition / Films / Talks / Performance
Embodiment Label (1993/2002)
Interview with Regina Möller (excerpts) (1993)
see also www.regina-magazine.de
IWONA BLAZWICK: I was walking through the Venice Biennale "Aperto" section in the old Rope Factory in the summer of 1993 and saw something lying on the floor, in between the large scale sculptures and installations. It was a paper dart, like the ones we used to throw at each other behind the teacher's back. I unfolded it and discovered a comic strip inside. Then I spotted others and opened them up to find film scripts, diagrams, an assortment of messages. This was the first time I came across your work. Its ephemerality, the use of the graphic and narrative spaces of different media, the fact that it was made in collaboration with another artist, and the sheer pleasure it gave me as I was able to literally unfold different fragments of meaning - these all seem like strategies you've continued to use.
I want to ask you first, why you choose certain kinds of space, which are virtual rather than architectural - for example the comic strip?
REGINA MÖLLER: This work, which was titled "Film", came out of my experience of living in New York, between 1989 and 1993. At that time there was a particular attitude in the indie comic scene which was very exciting. As a woman artist coming from Germany - I felt real ambivalence about the limits of what art could be - this scene was refreshing. There was a different kind of characterisation, humour, plot, plus the inclusion of women characters, even if not always women producers. A nice balance between documentation and fiction. It coincided with new discussions around what female artists could be. My ambivalence provided the material for the Venice work. In a way it matched the apparent ambivalence of the Aperto selection committee's criteria: they wanted to "remove the walls" around art but acutally kept all the same conventions — for example, the artists received shipping labels specifying "sculpture" or "painting". When I received the invitation, I was employed full time. By accident or necessity, what developed as "the work" was my own situation, which became the work itself. I worked on a "demo" to communicate it to a producer, who created a form. It was a very D.I.Y. philosophy as well — cheap to do, easy to transport, which I liked. The paper airplanes had on each one of five scenes, which constituted my own frame of mind, the situation at Aperto and my presence — the young artist making "a scene" in which the public could participate.
I think "Film" is a good example of my interest in involving interesting professionals in developing the character of the thing to its full potential.
IB Why did you decide to leave Germany for New York at the end of the 80s?
RM I wanted to get out. It was necessary for lots of reasons. I wanted to see the production side of the art world over there and develop my own thoughts through this cultural exchange. I knew I would have to get the experience of working, not just visiting. I had to get immersed in every day life - with all the mess. When I left Germany, I had just finished studying at the University in Munich where I was taught to concentrate on facts. On the one hand you get a pretty good training in empirical knowledge, but on the other hand there was no experimentation, no thinking on your feet. I learned a lot from New York and it played a big part in my development. From that experience I could start to structure a kind of grey-zone between the German and the US sensibilities, as my work-place.
IB This is the third issue of "regina", a magazine you first produced in 1994. What interests you about the magazine format?
RM Looking back at it, I would say "regina" really reflected my NYC experience, my own background and my ambivalence about the term "artist". It's a way of working out a format, searching for a way to provide contemporary parameters for the issues around being a woman artist. It fits between the comic's individual psychological narrative space, and the supposedly shared "normalised" consumer characters offered by women's magazines. I adopted the format of those German mainstream magazines like "Petra" or "Brigitte" and re-introduced what might be a "real" personality — me. It's a logical jump from "Film" to producing the pilot issue of "regina", which was through an invitation in 1994 from Ute Meta Bauer, who was at that time artistic director of the Künstlerhaus Stuttgart.
I think like a lot of artists working in the late 80s, I also wanted a format that emphasized the richness of cross-connected readings. So you might enjoy just one article or image, but you can also find a structure that guides the whole magazine - a "plot", more like a comic than a magazine. "regina" is not a fixed character - like any format, it develops its own life. It is not Regina Möller, but "regina".
IB The women's magazines that you mimic here are usually prescribed by the dynamics of desire, consumption and exoticism. Your method seems to posit you as a sort of viral presence, working within the magazine formula, but turning it around.
RM I wouldn't use the word "mimic" - it's more about splicing the comic and the women's magazine and the two psychological reflections they offer on what "woman" is, through a variety of possible plots, thoughts, ideas. For women working as artists, there is still the issue of what language to use. So I work in relation to what is supposedly our "nature". Also within the current context of the mass media, "regina" magazine takes its place on the magazine shelves; it's identifiable but not easily categorised. The focus I offer seems more accurate, more real, than the "world view" offered by stereotypical women's magazines. The production side of the magazine makes a strong bond with reality. I work with different professions and use the production "site" to examine and shift work frames. Also, since I worked in many different jobs I do know about the psychology of the work place. Through experience you can quickly pick up on them and know what difficulties confront you. And the art world has its own psychic drama - it's a business as well - people pretend to forget. So that brings me back again to the magazine format as demonstrating an interaction between art, comics and everyday life. I don't so much search for a space, but for a way to understand and reflect, to produce discourse as a space.