Briefly describe the work you do.
My artistic position is primarily manifested in black-and-white and almost monochrome photographies and moving images. As in my photographic work, I also renounce in my work with moving images the reproduction of external reality. Attributes such as clear, sharp, and realistic have a lower priority in my images. The deconstruction of forms, the distorted and blurry images, the absence of color, and the play with light and dark refer to a kind of primordial state of the vision. This representation of a dream state or the kind of visual experience that is liberated from the rational consciousness is an essential part of my recent work.
Tell us about your background and how that has had an influence on your work and on you as an artist.
In the light of my early childhood in the GDR, and the consequence that some places, pieces of art or scents and sensations, I could only experience through language or pictures, I developed a vivid imagination. As I discovered the camera of my father and secretly held it in my hands, I was fascinated by its mystery and enthralled by its beauty. I fell immediately in love with the spirit of image creation. This passion accompanied me throughout my adolescence, and led to the study of Art History and Fine Arts. While studying, I experimented excessively in the darkroom, and it’s alchemy always haunted me during my creative process and led to more experiments with different mediums.
The concept of the artist studio has a broad range of meanings in contemporary practice. Artists may spend much of their time in the actual studio, or they may spend very little time in it. Tell us about your individual studio practice and how it differs from or is the same as traditional notions of “being in the studio”.
My studios always have been in the place I live in, and that is the way I still prefer to work even if it gets sometimes claustrophobic since boundaries between the daily routine and the creative process are crossed. Nevertheless, unlimited access to my studio became of the years essential to me. Even though I wish sometimes there would be a magical garden between these spaces because being in my studio, feels like being in the rabbit hole.
What roles do you find yourself playing that you may not have envisioned yourself in when you first started making art?
Mastering the art of solitude.
When do you find is the best time to make art? Do you set aside a specific time everyday or do you have to work whenever time allows?
My work schedule is very ordinary. I work every day, and try to keep a balance between the creative period and the times when I have to take care of exhibitions and festivals or maintaining my archive. In fact there are certain times of the day or night, and the seasons in which I prefer certain types of work or work stages.
How has your work changed in the past five years? How is it the same?
In the last five years I experienced the transition from the the photograph to the moving image. After almost a decade of doing primarily black-and-white photography, I experimented with instant photography. The technical imperfection and the transience of the Polaroid picture, has something highly subjective and authentic that reminds me of the way our perceptual apparatus works, and the ephemerality of human existence. Confronted with the transience of the image, dealing with time, in the process of production and in the result itself, suddenly became object of my artistic contemplation. I started to integrate time as well as the duration of time in the photographic image, and moved the photography in the vicinity of the film.
My desire to create moving images, and my preference for analog working methods, obsolete technology, distorted dreamlike images, and my interest in perceptual processes eventually led to the confrontation with video synthesis, and the use of circuit bent machines and toy cameras. Exploring the medium itself, its tactile qualities, became important to my work.
The last years I try to develop a poetry of failure. I have the profound desire to understand how the medium I work with behaves under certain circumstances, especially under malfunction. It is very inspiring to find out how the image change when the material is treated in unexpected ways. There is a kind of logic and stunning beauty behind it. It is almost as if you dive beneath the surface of the image, and discover the “unconscious” in the image. The visible and the invisible in the image. They coexist but the “unconscious” in the image is only visible by defective treatment.
The not satisfying curiosity, the urge to explore in more depth, and the need for solitude seem to me like an invariable maxim in my work. Undoubtedly, I stick with a certain visual vocabulary and remain with related themes. To conclude, therefore, it seems that the desire to create a sort of mental landscape of desire, where the viewer engages actively in the process of conveying meaning, a kind of visual experience that is liberated from the rational consciousness will accompany me for a long time.
How have people such as family, friends, writers, philosophers, other artists or even pop icons had an impact on the work you do?
To be continuously surrounded by art and its history, and my curiosity and thirst in literature, philosophy, and psychology allow me to dive deep into the ocean of inspiration. I believe there are influences, of those I am not even aware of. By contrast, to name the influences of those I am aware of certainly could fill pages. I must concede, however, that I prefer to discuss about the particular pieces of art, art films, video art or writings, rather than the artist or writer in general but to list them would leap beyond the boundaries. Therefore, I try to name some writers and artists whose works accompanying me since a long time: the writings of Joseph Brodsky, Italo Calvino, Elias Canetti, Carl Gustav Jung, Anaïs Nin and Susan Sontag. I also appreciate the works of the filmmaker Bill Morrison, and Peter Tscherkassky, who both work with found footage as well as the works of Tacita Dean and Chris Marker. Equally, I appreciate the work of the composer Delia Derbyshire. From the field of photography the works of my master Arno Fischer, the enchanting photography of Sibylle Bergemann, Mario Giacomelli, Sally Mann, Sarah Moon and Francesca Woodmann have moved me deeply.
Have you ever been pulled in the direction of a pursuit other than being an artist? What are your other interests?
I faced many streets and some crossroads but I always walked towards the arts and art history. Art can be a universal language, and overlaps with many other disciplines. My curiosity is never satisfied and during my creative process, I explore constantly comprehensive topics.
Kardinal was born in East Germany, she studied Fine Arts and Art History in Germany and Italy. In 2008, she took up her Master’s studies in Fine Arts with a focus on photography, film, and new media. An intensive confrontation with photography and new media led her to study in Rome from 2008 to 2009. Back in Germany, she was a master student of Arno Fischer from 2010 to 2011. Influenced by her intense work in photography, she began to work with obsolete video-technology in 2009. M. Kardinal successfully completed her studies with a Master of Arts degree in Fine Arts in 2012.
Her work has been exhibit and screened in national and international exhibitions and film screenings including Festival Alto Vicentino VIII (Italy, 2014), Nomadenkino Berlin (Germany, 2014), SI FEST#OFF di Savignano Immagini Festival (Italy, 2013), Another Experiment by Woman Film Festival at Anthology Film Archives New York City (USA 2013), the International Short Film Festival Detmold (Germany, 2013) and the European Month of Photography In Berlin (Germany, 2012).
Kardinal lives and works as a freelance artist and in Germany and Italy.
All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission.