The animal that I am | Kathrina Swoboda

Austrian artist Kathrina Swoboda speaks to us about her participation in the Valletta International Visual Arts festival – VIVA. Primarily a video artist, Swoboda’s work is concerned with our relationship to the animal kingdom, and suggests that, when all is said and done, we may not be all that different from our animal counterparts after all… 

Kathrina Swoboda
Kathrina Swoboda

How does Zoographics compare to your previous work? Would you say it marks some kind of evolution? 

Due to my former training as a contemporary dancer, the Human body plays a central role in my work and re-appears in different forms and shapes. This work rarely focuses on people, it really focuses on animals and their habitat in zoos. Because it was a long project, it changed quite a lot between beginning and end point, but I liked the way the project began to live on its own.

Do you, by extension, then also seek to explore the relationship between man and nature? 

Actually, I do. I am currently working on my trans-disciplinary PhD about the relationship between animals and feminist theory. So it is especially the wo/man’s relationship to animals I am interested in. So far, I’m convinced that humans are just another kind of animal.

How would you say your work is tied to contemporary concerns?

Human-animal studies gained a lot of weight in the recent years. On one hand, there is the whole ethical debate on animal exploitation through the industry, animal testing or the genetic experiments on animals. On the other hand, I would say that humans were never so close to non-human animals before. We both experience a kind of vulnerability through our bodies and the rapid changes in environment and technology. The animal used to be the classical ‘Other’ of Man, and in my work I try to find other relations to nature and animals instead if opposing them to humans.  

Are you looking forward to being in Malta, and how do you hope it will reflect back on your work? 

I very much look forward to Malta, and I am excited to be there. I am as much looking forward to discussions about the work then to discover some of the amazing Maltese cultural heritage. 

Kathrina Swoboda’s VIVA exhibition, Zoographics, will remain on display at St James Cavalier until October 5. In the exhibition, visitors will be able to enter a space specially constructed for her projections and photographs.