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Gate 27, farklı pratiklerin araştırma ve üretim süreçlerini desteklemek ve disiplinlerarası etkileşime zemin yaratmak amacıyla 2019’da kurulmuş bir uluslararası konuk sanatçı programıdır.

You can watch the event as of 10 AM (UTC+3) Monday, April 22, 2024 with English transcription.

Ahu Antmen (AA): I want to thank SU Gender and Gate 27 for giving me the opportunity to ask Maja some questions because I think her work is very challenging in the sense that it continues to expand the definition, the conventional definitions of what we think of as art and also very inspiring that she brings women from all walks of life together in very constructive conversations that actually give hope for the future I believe -I don’t know if you will share this with me once we start talking- Now I know that the black feminist writer, Audre Lorde, is one of her inspirations and the title of one of her well-known essays “The transformation of silence into language and action” can also be taken as a description of Maja’s work, which is quite difficult to describe and define.

And I’d like to start by asking about your practice in general. What you do involves bodies, space, text, time, people. It includes stage and rehearsal and it sometimes includes costumes and props as we see here in “Throw it like a girl” but it’s not theatre and it’s not exactly performance arts either anymore. It’s rather a form of social practice which involves women’s participation. Almost as a kind of experimental feminist activism I would say. So, can you tell us how we can define what you do and where do you situate your practice in the history of performance art? Because you are also expanding the concept of what it means to perform as an artist since the 60s-70s, you’re doing something else.

Maja Bekan (MB): Thank you. Firstly, hello to everyone. It’s really nice to be here and I’m so happy to be in conversation with you because we talked a bit before and it was really inspiring. I’m going to go into it immediately because I think how I think of the performance actually, and I often say this for my work that I use it (performance) as a tool, not as a medium, but really as a tool of coming together and creating a space of intimacy or using a space.

And I think it is socially engaged and actually I use it as a way to get socially engaged. So, I think we can talk a bit about it. If I think of history of performance art, why I started doing it and why it became so interesting is because I was interested in theatre and I did find many performances very theatrical and also annoying by that. So I wanted to break that as well, but still keep it somehow fun and create different spaces as well. So, there’s a lot of things and I think we will go more into it. But I think for the moment it’s very important just to claim that I stopped using performance to define it also. I use rehearsal, because I think rehearsal becomes more of a space of potential then performance. I would say, that opens up something.

AA: Yeah, yeah. Well, the performance has this kind of preparedness to it, and yes, I did notice that you use the concept of rehearsal which includes possibility, hope and it is very time based. So, I guess that..

MB: I think that’s one of the main reasons, and I like the idea of performance as a space of becoming and disappearing because of course instantly what to connect to performance is a formality. Things that happen in a moment and disappear. How I think and how I like to think about it with people that work is that it is a space of becoming something, you becoming something else and the work becoming something else, that’s why rehearsal became interesting because it’s not definite, it gives a space to make mistake, to fail. I think that’s so important for me that failing is not a problem that it’s just a way of moving forward. Of moving in general.

AA: Well, what’s distinctive about your practice is that, there is a deliberate call to include women. You work with women from all walks of life defying any kind of difference and I was thinking… this inclusion, this call is almost like a metaphor for your work to include everybody. Everybody has its own meaning. That’s how the work happens when these different women from all walks of life come together and share their knowledge, their experience and so on. Is this tied to your belief that it is women who will lead social change? I mean it is it your way of giving a message? Why do you specifically work with women?

MB: I think it became very organically, at the start I didn’t define works that I did without claiming that space, but there was always one rule which is open call for me. It’s more important even then gender issue that I work with the idea of open call, which means anyone who wants to join in can come so I don’t make a selection of any kind.

Through the many different works and many different interests, what I became more and more interested in was space, space that we occupied and what space can we occupy as a woman. So, it became clear more and more that there are certain areas that are more interesting to explore as a woman and only with women like from military, for instance, like religion, at the moment scientists that I’m working with. So there are also spaces that are generally more occupied by men, and for women, it’s a space that she has to make, that she has to find a way of navigating and dancing around. So for that, it seemed much more interesting to only have, and of course, being a woman myself, you know, dealing with certain issues, wanting to learn one thing to understand how I can move in the world. And I don’t want to say shocking, but learn like differently with women and learn not to make same mistakes in the way.

So that became also a big part (of my work), of getting different worlds, different fields and different generations, which is also something very important for me that I work with women from 7 to 97.

AA: Ok, so but since there is an open call, there may be others involved, not only woman.

MB: But for instance, for military it was clear that it was only interesting to have open call to women. And so, I only had women in that work that I did in New York, and during Corona, it was never only open for women, but only women applied, which is also interesting because, of course, the language spoken to women, which I realize as well that it is interesting. Because I just had the open call and said, if you want to join and exercise togetherness and have meetings and conversation only women applied. So I think that’s of course, even maybe it wasn’t intentional, but it was in a way it was because of the language.

But for the most of my recent works, I mean the whole “P for performance” actually was done only with women, so it started with my mother and then it continued with many different artists and women involved. 

AA: Actually, I just wanted to come to your mother at this point because you cite your own mother and your own mother-daughter relationship in influencing your artistic approach, especially what you’ve been doing in the last decade or so. And there is a video recording of your mother with her friends in a conversation just like in Turkey, we call it a “gün”. Yeah, I don’t know how we can translate it. Women come together and have tea or you know produce something together. Can you please talk about how this work inspired you to do what you do today? Because in Maja’s work, there is an open call for women who work in the military and they come together with artists or people, let’s say other women working in the art field. She works with scientists, again women. She brings them together with people from the art world, artists or people; representatives of the art world she works with. In one video she worked with nuns. Yes, nuns and museum workers came together to share their experience and their different feminisms. I think that this is very interesting that actually, you also cite that it began with you thinking about this intergenerational connection with mother.

MB: I think it’s very nice to use different feminisms because I think that’s the essence of it and this is the works from 2011 and you know, most of us if you are lucky to have a great relationship with mother, but also challenging, which I think many of us experience that, mothers can push buttons and all sorts of ways. So, my mom comes from very different world and so she comes from finances and this work also came about after a decade of living in Serbia during the nineties and economic collapse and political collapse and all sorts of things that many people maybe get more and more familiar in the world. So it’s in their own way- so if the circle that you see its actually them trying to find a way to emancipate each other from the conditions they were in. So, I don’t know how familiar here with this kind of multilevel and top of their parties, but this is what they started to doing because they were all made redundant in their jobs. They all lost jobs in the mid fourties close to fifties, which is I think the moment where most women and have amazing potential and due to the you know economic issues, they were kind of made redundant and they started to do this weekly-meetings where they would sell different things, but it was never about making money. It was about kind of breaking the system of buying things that each needed from different company and if it’s not clear you can always interrupt me and… getting it cheaper and then you know, supporting each other like that.

This kind of social network that was actually before social network with such an interesting concept and, I took part in many of them and I realize it such a beautiful way. How they exchange, supported each other, how they learned, how they navigated the space that didn’t give them actually space for their body, for their experience. And I thought it was such a nice model to kind of emulate within art. So I started doing “P for performance” actually with this idea that if I got as many artists female friends, we can also become bigger and bigger and have more and more importance and space. This is how it started in 2006.

And I think with this, I always tell it as a side story when I had the first big exhibition with this work, I decided to bring six other female artists with me in the museum just as a kind of way of trying to level up the space. I’m going to talk a lot about the space, but yeah, so that’s how it kind of inspired whole way of working and thinking on how to make friends.

AA: So when you showed this for the first time in the museum, this is a video so it was shown in the museum and we could hear what they were saying, their conversations. But then you and six artists, friends were all also performing a kind of similar conversation piece..

MB: So I had a productive half a year. So, every month I would bring another artist to do something and this work actually was done live in the museum so they brought all the things and they hosted event and audience was sitting with them and exchanging and you know, buying things. So, it was just really total breaking up of the art system in a sense because suddenly people were buying products for money in the middle of it. So it was much more about actually institutional critique in a way or institutional transformation that it was something else, but I think it was as a model, it was something that really influenced me because it’s a work also when we talk about these different performances it’s work that it’s still happening so I’ll always claim that it’s a performance that is 12 years long. It just continues to happen in time. I still work with them. I still perform with them and they never stop. But in that sense it kind of challenges the idea of the end of something.

AA: I think that’s very interesting that the challenging aspect of the work in terms of institutional critique. You know, this is an artistic trend since the 1960s in which artists work within institutions to defy institutions to challenge institutions. And I think this is a very interesting way of doing it because when a performance is going on for 12 years for example, it means there is a conversation going on with these women. It starts and it doesn’t finish so it doesn’t turn the work into an object that is a marketable, exchangeable object. It’s a different kind of relationship that you have participant. You know, it’s one of the interesting things about this kind of participatory work and the reason why its critiqued a little bit like for examples like the theoriticians like Claire Bishop is that, the artist is always in a position of authority when bringing these participants together and telling them what to do. They’re supposed to have a conversation now and so on, but with something like this, the fact that it’s been going on for so long and that the relationships are going on for so long, for me, that’s why you know I think your work is very interesting in this sense, that’s what makes it an experimental form of feminist activism through art. It challenges the institution. I mean the institution has to change to cater for your work.

MB: And it’s a huge challenge for them. And I mean, I have to say, I work with amazing people in amazing institutions and of course people that work, they want to support you. But it is a huge challenge. And of course, I did the three year-long performance in Warsaw, Ujazdowski Castle, if you follow the contemporary art there you know that it’s completely right wing taken over, but they were so kind to support. Really, this experiment of working with people for three years and what does that mean and how much work it takes for something that is really rarely visible like that?

It’s just an experience between the group, me and the institution and you know it becomes public in certain moments, but all the work that is behind it’s actually what is exciting and what does something. So I think it is always a challenge and it’s… We talked about the time and for me that big part of kind of thinking about feminism and methodology, like how to break these patterns of time and linear time and expand, endeavour, maintain… All those terms that I find so interesting in thinking about work is; how do you maintain ongoing collaboration with someone and how do you become friends with people that don’t agree with you? As I said at the beginning, I don’t agree with my mother often and many people I work with. We really don’t agree on anything and conflict is also such a big important part of my work because people who join could always disagree and actually are using this kind of space to negotiate each other and live next to each other somehow.

AA: Yeah, yeah, I mean, that’s another very significant aspect I think of the work I mean friendship as performance. Very interesting. conflict, overcoming conflict, becoming friends, listening to another… And you know.

MB: I always say agreeing to disagreeing, which is such a funny phrase of course.

AA: But yeah, but it’s important.

MB: It is important because I mean if you looked at the image of women in military and personal beliefs, I am pacifist I don’t understand the concept of you know, I don’t understand, but I don’t support the concept of military, but then just to get to know these women and work with them and understand their perspective. And it was amazing. And of course we became friends and we don’t agree on everything, but there’s something that connects us with it which is beyond that which is amazing and it is really fascinating how it happens for me with many of the works it starts really with me. Ok, I don’t understand why you joined the monastery, why? A big start from that and I just want to learn. And of course I bring the other people in artists and cultural workers curators just to see where we are. And what is the world we live in? I think it becomes very interesting. Yeah, very quickly and friendship. I think I noticed early on. If you listen if you give space, people will take it and will also be interested in taking part and joining you in this, so it’s very nice.

AA: Yeah, I mean in one work. “At some point we all have to dance” from 2018, it’s a film and there’s a conversation between a group of nuns and museum workers. And there’s this moment in this video when the museum worker, a young woman suddenly decides that nuns are feminist, and then she, she suddenly realizes, she says, “Could this be the ultimate form of feminism?” But it is this moment that she discovers that this could be the case, and I thought that was so interesting and the conversation between the everyday life, problems of nuns living in a monastery and everyday… These different feminisms hearing each other was very enlightening, I would say.

MB: It was very interesting and of course when I started researching and working with them it was also fascinating to learn the reason for many of them was actually either getting married or monastery and education, so for many of them, that was the way to emancipate themselves like to get education by becoming like nuns, which is really, you know you sometimes you think “Oh, that’s been a long time ago” but no, it’s one generation ago. It’s really interesting how things are slow and how slowly they are changing and it was really fascinating because they’re all highly educated women, but still strong believers. And for me, you know, coming from where I come, which is from Yugoslavia and I was raised as atheist. And you know, it is a fascinating field to kind of talk about belief and religion, because I always say art is my religion and I do things for art and devote a lot to it and it’s the same for them. So, we were really talking a lot about different religions and different feminisms and it’s beautiful, I’m very happy with this work. It was an amazing learning thing.

AA: Yeah, I mean what’s interesting about it is that I mean we can read some interviews, some articles, we can watch some documentaries, but we cannot really get into the everyday life of a nun living in a monastery in Graz and problems having to do with her everyday existence which is what makes the work interesting.

MB: I think that’s also amazing because what I do with every work is actually make an effort to understand and to know the place. So I spent time in monstery. I stayed there and then I brought of course all of the museum workers and we did visit they showed us everything so in every work it became such a big part of the work so like with military, we were able to enter, actually the army and feel and then also kind of get everything; all the backstages which I think is such a fascinating moment and now with the latest work which I just came from last week we went into nuclear facility in Karlsruhe which is not allowed for any civilian, but because we use art, I’m artist and curious and they let us in laboratory which honestly I have to say because I was constantly screened and checked if I am exposed to radiation in the middle I thought like “Maja you really should be more careful”, but you know, you get into places and you get to see the worlds that are you very often hear them and I think in that sense it also becomes kind of politically interesting so there’s a way to try to do it very subtle.

Well then I think it’s amazing what people bring out and talk about. They open up very quickly and it’s amazing.

AA: Interesting because all these, as you say, you know this; like a nuclear research facility, Science, religion in terms of the monastery, military, women military workers. These are all very male dominated of course institutions and some observations in relation to even if there is inclusion at a certain percentage, the physical space pushes away the other gender in a way. I remember reading an interview that you know you’re talking about like there aren’t many toilets for women, for example. Some very practical things you know, “ok come in, but don’t come in.”

MB: I think that was issues of body you mentioned at the beginning, performance and body and when we visited first time the base and of course they’re all interested in bringing more women into military. And then you know you enter and there is like 10 toilets for men and one invalid slash female

AA: Invalid plus women.

MB: Then you think ok, and then we started to dig deeper. And what does it mean to be a woman? And you know what happens when you go abroad or somewhere you have to go for your work and how does that feel? Can you be a mother or not? I think this is also many questions we have in art as an artist also. What does it mean to choose something else. I think all these questions are kind of opened up and talked and so it’s always interesting and sometimes you think oh yeah that’s what I will expect and it’s in every field and some things are true, they’re still repeated in many different forms through many different things but it’s still kind of interesting to see how people, how women dance around these things and move up or move somewhere. I think that’s the essence of it. How you dance and how to dance around problems.

AA: Is that why you use dance? She also uses dance in her work.

MB: I always like to show this.

AA: Do they suddenly start to dance?

 AA: I think I read somewhere that you use dance when, for example the conversation …

MB: … and I always say; if you feel like you can’t talk about thing anymore, just start dancing.

AA: Oh, she is so sweet. It really has a lot to do with accepting difference. Like what you said, you know, let’s agree to disagree, let’s just listen to each other, which is… It seems to be the gist of your work. She’s so great, she’s having a lot of fun. If we return to the inspiration leading to this work, I read maybe something you said in an interview. Maybe somebody else wrote this, but this influence of mother coming from your mother influencing this kind of work. This interview is connected; the concept of mother is also related to motherland. So I’m curious, you left Serbia, you moved to the Netherlands and you know you’ve been away from your motherland and your mother for a long time, is your practice a way of looking back at the ills of war, what happened in Yugoslavia? I mean, how was it for your mother’s generation? How did they live it? Do you think your work is acting out in some way? This reaction to what happened because it was like “differences could live together” and then “differences could not live together.” You know that’s what war is about, I guess. I mean how much of that do you think subconsciously has to do with you bringing lots of different ages, races, ideologies together to listen to each other and be together and if they cannot talk then they can dance.

MB: Amazing to say that that’s probably the good thing that the war brought. I think it’s interesting often I must know you are talking about and I think every work doesn’t talk about it but at the same time talks about it. So I think of course I’m the product of the country that doesn’t exist and that had a system that you know failed. But it was an amazing idea and mother is something that I have issues as I’m a refugee. So I think refugee defines your life. So I also embrace it. I also enjoy the idea that I don’t have any specific relation to motherland.

AA: Right.

MB: But I do have the mother and family. I think there is something about being raised within certain system where collectivity is such a big part, war is a terrible thing and I think it leaves mark on everyone.

And of course I think that it’s not at all necessary. I think conflict is something that is interesting. But that kind of conflict in so unnecessary. And it is present, but I think I need a maybe deeper psychological analysis of that… you know so far and an hour. It does make you… I’m not only product of a civil war but also the political turmoil of Serbia and Belgrade in the nineties, and I was a student in this period, the protesting on the street etc. So that’s also a part. And I think all the big historical events made me more think about what do they actually do if they do something which I still think it’s amazing that you know civic action is amazing, but then I’m also more interested in what is on the other side in the small scale, the change that happens on the other spectrum. You can make a change through small movements and I think that’s maybe how these things influence me more to think. “Ok I will be friends with people that I disagree with, but we will all change and remove something else”. That’s this kind of optimism or naivety I think maybe…

AA: No, no. Hope, maybe?

MB: Yes, hope. Despite everything like how I grew up, I’m still very hopeful which is I think fascinating.

AA: Which is very nice.

MB: I always believe that you know, things can always get better and change. They can always get good, and you can still dance through them.

Can you also talk a little bit about your artistic influences because this work, for example reminded me of, for example, some first generation feminist work like Suzanne Lacy’s “Silver Action.” This is a work from the seventies in which hundreds of women maybe 400 women come together – older women, that’s why it’s called silver action because they have white hair like me. But they talk about their experiences as women and it’s a conversation piece. You know it’s like talking generations learning from each other, again from that generation we can think of maybe Mierle Laderman Ukeles working with sanitation workers and that was an ongoing project. She even had an office in the New York Sanitation Department. You know that became …

MB: She still has it there!

AA: She still has it there.  And so, how much do you feel a connection with these first generation women artists?

I mean, of course, most of these works were such a big influence, actually much more, they’re thinking on practicing art because both of them especially kind of practice a bit outside of art and come in and out and I found it very interesting and inspiring. And you know they’re also…Like someone like Martha Rossler or Judy Chicago, this famous, there are different artists that inspire you and make you think about how you make work. And of course I also enjoy talking to contemporary artists a lot. You know, like …. and Pilvi Takaala, I don’t know if you know them, they are for instance very inspiring or just my colleagues from my studio. You know… Many different, but I was also thinking because I do find quite inspiring writing and so I would say Sarah Ahmed is someone that really influenced how I think about the world, art everything and why I like to actually share and always read her with the people that I make new work with. Or like Silvia Federici… I think many of my works, I think gossip is the format of how she claims it and how I like to claim it. It is very interesting thinking about these gatherings and exchange and knowledge accumulation between women and so they have many different influences.

AA: I mean, these writers and their theoretical approach is very interesting. I mean, when you think of how Sarah Ahmed talks about happiness, Federici talks about gossip, you know, they take these concepts and just turn the concept around to give new meaning, to make new meaning.

MB: That’s interesting. And I’m using broken English, I forgot to say that I really am using it also as a space kind of freedom and I can completely destroy this language and come up with new terms or extended terms which I think they do, of course, in a Professional and beautiful way, I’m doing very clumsy but I think it’s a social space; language and political and you can extend it. I think that maybe also I find writers quite interesting when I think about work and inspiration for work it’s something very close to my practice and I do this reading groups with the artists around the world online, mostly in the last few years and we gather and we talk about a text and that’s every month. So that’s something that its feeding me constantly, it’s a tool as well to think.

AA: When did you start to define yourself as a feminist? And I’m also curious because about how your feminism influenced the work that you do. I mean, how influential was feminism in transforming your work because Maja used to paint. You know I have seen some expressionist self-portraits which are very different from what you are doing right now. But you know, does feminism have a role in how your work changed, your reading of these writers and your observing of your mother’s friendship from a different perspective maybe, due to your feminism or did it begin before that?

MB: Well I think I would paraphrase Sarah here; “I don’t remember the time that I was not feminist”. I think for any girl… I think I was always the one who was always asking the questions around the table and not agreeing. And my father and mother would stay by because

AA: It’s just what it is.

MB: I think it’s just what it is, it’s the world and that of course a big part also. I think even with the also studying in a very specific context of traditional art education like Serbia had at that moment was also a challenge for women. I am telling it as a kind of fun anecdote but I was often referred by my last name never by my first name because it was kind of considered as a girl. You were not being taken seriously as a painter and you’ll probably do something else after. Yeah, so it was a sign of also compliment, but I was thinking this is so wierd, why.

AA: Why wouldn’t you put your name on it.

Yeah, it’s really something that made a big influence and I think you know we talked a bit about what education does and I do think as well with my work I think about education. I think education is actually an issue of all of us probably lack of it. It is the issue of many problems in the world. I am a strong believer that we can educate each other in different ways and so I also use work in a way to do that. As I said, you do a lot of things. I learned a lot, lots of things from other people and vice versa. I think feminism is, many people have issues but I think it is a movement of equality so it’s nothing to do against anyone it’s just very simple, equality for everyone. So (my answer is) very simple, I was born as one.

AA: You were born a feminist, great! You mentioned education environments, you’ve had a chance really to observe very different environments of art education and I actually wanted to ask you about this. I mean, coming from a more conventional fine art conception, and when you come to Netherlands and then there’s a period in UK…

MB: It’s double master but I think that master was such a crucial time for me, because it was also completely different way of thinking about art and being able to use different mediums experiment more than I could before. It’s also a lot about what is available and whatnot, and so I think that we also moved so much from that now. Of course, I think many things are available for young artists and students at the moment. But for me you know, when I moved, it was the first time I started editing my films or making films on my own. So it was a huge shift that I suddenly realized; okay, different time. I don’t have to pay, I can do things that are much quicker, reacting on things that I find important. Master like that in the art institute that I did was really a space that completely opened up my thinking about practice and it was a small group of people, but then you were also pushed to think outside the box and I find it really inspiring and it was very important. I do really enjoy and support education and it is very interesting to think about how you can change it. How you can expand what kind of education can offer young people that want to enter art world. It is challenging, but also interesting space to think about.

AA: I mean it’s interesting because now there are so many new terms we can talk about; relational aesthetics, participatory aesthetics, social practice etc. So, once you have these definitions and they are historicized, then it’s almost like they’re also institutionalized. You see them within museums and then of course it’s reflected in the art education system. But then I wanted to ask you, I mean, how can social practice some practice like this be taught? How can this approach really be part of art education? I mean, that’s why for example, your practice is also education. You talk about learning differently. It’s almost like a way in which educators can learn how to do something. But then again, there may be some who ask you; why? Well, what is this different then my in my classroom reading Sarah Ahmed, “Killjoy”, reading this or that you know Federici…Are we doing art? Is it what we’re doing artistic practice? So how do you think of these things is that you know this relationship between education, learning, creating public awareness? You know, also this was going to be my last question but I’ll just jump to that. It seems that you are giving immense significance to the role that arts and artists can play in public awareness also.

MB: I mean, I think often as an artist that you can show things, as an artist, I don’t solve them as my civic responsibility is to solve things on the larger issue. As an artist, I think you do notice things, you do point to something that maybe is not visible or is visible at the moment or not thought about. I think education in art is having gone through like two different ones. One is really about craft, more materials and medium, which I find also quite interesting. The other one was much more on developing your concepts and developing, learning how to think to use different things to make them come alive. And I think that, in that sense, kind of supports the idea of social practice, and it is included in, for instance, in Netherlands in many different education even now for instance a famous Rijks residency had like a social practice workshops. There are ways how these systems implementing system and that always also scares me, a systematization always scares me. So I think to be in between is always an interesting space and I think the question always and relational practice is always like; is this art or not?

But we touched so many amazing performance artist, but for me it’s interesting when I work with a group I do different things I do. We read, we go to different places we meet we have food with all sorts of things, but at the end they actually come up with a whole scenario for the rehearsal so they do make some of the rehearsal… It’s really controlled conversation between them that I have nothing to do with. So it’s always just completely improvised by the group, and that comes from all these different steps we do together. So I think in that sense what I enjoyed for instance, often hearing them say how for them it was a change and what changed them and how they move differently in their daily life, in their work life and personally. So I often think like with the work with military, they were so used to rules and regulations and knowing what’s happening and then they worked with me for three months without knowing what will happen. At moments they were so frustrated but they were also fine, and I think that’s for me the amazing lesson which is so difficult to kind of translate to somewhere else. It’s interesting thing and I have a few colleagues that I’m really interested in and I’m curious what is happening also because I’m not really connected to any educational institution. I work in different places, sometimes with students and then it’s fun because its short and it’s not systematized. Then it’s always interesting then you can always find a way how to make it work somehow, but I think how to make it is an interesting challenge.

AA: Can we say that “Throw it like a girl”, the social aspect, political aspects coming together, friendship and conflict, the dialogue between the participants. Of course these are the core of the work that Maja is doing. But then I’m very interested in how you design the space she uses; these costumes, props for example, this is the work which is to do with the military workers, women in the military. And as you can see, she uses this gold curtain for a stage. She uses uniforms and pink floor. Why pink, you know, I want to ask you these things also these red high heels which really you know, point to it’s very stereotypical. Why are you using these stereotypical objects? And is it a way of estheticizing what you’re doing? Because otherwise it will be a classroom. It will be just a meeting. It will be you know, is it a way of an estheticizing what you’re doing?

MB: I think space really plays a big part and it’s the starting point. I have to design the space and it’s always this kind of space. It’s a bit off. It’s inspired by maybe different things. I do really like the idea of a lot of TV and radio programs from seventies and eighties that have this really strange set things and I think when you create the space for people to feel in and out, it is productive.

So, I start with that often and I think golden curtain is something that goes through many of the work and gold in general. It has a very deep meaning for me personally because it is something from also kind of cultural heritage and my heritage from my mother and you know gold as a way of surviving as a woman, so you always keep gold close to you when you move around. So that’s kind of part of it. And that’s why it appears in the covers, in the curtain and red shoes were actually what my gang wanted. They wanted the red shoes and it’s the first time I use them and because they were always annoyed in military that they have uniforms that were made for man and boots and then like, “I want some red shoes to perform”. I said ok, we go with the red shoes and they became such a fun part for every one because they’re of course not the most comfortable ones and also the stereotype that you don’t associate with a strong women that can defend themselves. But you know they’re also a tool, but sometimes they can be also a military tool.

So every space is different for every work and it is a big part (of my work). I spend a lot of time thinking and developing it and because you know all the works… and I think that’s something that maybe goes back into this idea of “how do you expand performance?”. All the works are happening during the exhibition, so I never have a work ready. You know, an institution also has no clue what will happen. So we start the exhibition now but I have an exhibition in Karlsruhe right now at the moment we’re just making a work during the exhibition- with the scientists- so the space becomes important that is the space we gather in and I like to design it.

AA: That is a statement in itself, and you know when the institution doesn’t know what will happen during the exhibition. What will be the end products? The point is that there is no end product actually in a way. And making the institution cater to that kind of (idea). Actually it’s a very actually an authoritative position, although maybe you would not like this term, but maybe it is somehow, but it’s like challenging the institutions.

MB: Yes I think it’s both. It’s also a lot of, this is for instance, the working at the moment in the space of Karlsruhe with the scientists and I think it’s a challenge for both sides. I enjoyed.

AA: It’s the end. I will ask one last question and then I will open it to conversation maybe some one has questions.

MB: I like the idea you said with authority.

AA: To experience authority, yes. I have so many questions I’m not going to ask all of them but you’ve been artist in residence in many residencies; New York, London in Poland Warsow and now Gate, Istanbul. Are these residencies are a new way of learning, learning differently? What is their contribution to your practice and what do you plan to do while you’re here?

MB: I think there is something really interesting, thinking of them as education. I think for me they were really important because each of them broke a new way of thinking about the work or engaging with people and how do you understand different parts. And so, they all resulted in work and friends. In that sense they were amazing and I really am a big supporter (of residencies). I was also running one in the Netherlands so I think they’re amazing space for artist and they are not new things of course these things existed through history of art, we always say like you do learn through art, through academic education, but mostly you learn from your colleagues and that’s when the residency is very often you are together with some other people from different parts of the world and you exchange and you start to talk and that’s where everything happens. So, I think they’re amazing and here well, there’s a lot to do. It’s very interesting period to be here and to look into women and that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to look into some hidden, erased, forgotten female figures so if you know any, if you are interested in sharing, I’m super interested to hear. So yeah, I’m trying to do research and see where it goes and see where we end up, so hopefully with some amazing friends.

AA: Okay so we’ll be pleasantly surprised I’m sure.