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'I'm not afraid to get lost!'

Rohini Kejriwal, Bangalore, May 05, 2014, DHNS 19:16 IST
 While she has travelled and lived in places like Brazil and Germany, where she studied at the Academy of Media Arts, Cologne, India has also been her 'home' for a short while.
In the creative world, some associate art with a canvas while others find art in everything around them. Keeping the multi-pronged approach is media artist Johanna Steindorf, a Geothe Institute bangaloREsident at Blank Noise. A frequent traveller who uses media such as photography, text, audio, video and web art, Johanna talks to Metrolife about her project here, past works and what has influenced her.

“I’m working with Jasmeen Patheja from Blank Noise on addressing the visibility and visualisation of the problem of sexual harassment. I’m also developing my own audio project that deals with Indian and foreign women who have moved to Bangalore and have different living situations. I want to draw connections between different forms of living and personal space,” she shares, adding that she has also worked on a similar project called ‘Still here, sometimes there’ earlier.

“It was an audio walk where I sent the participants an mp3 recording about growing up in different places and directions about what to click while walking. Afterwards, they sent me the photographs and drew a map of the trajectory that they had walked. I enjoyed it because as an artist, you don’t have always have control over the people you work with. I’m also keen on working with spaces and creating them artificially through different mediums,” she says.

Another fascinating project of hers is ‘Detournement’, an ongoing photography series. “In Germany, it’s common to leave clothing you don’t want in front of your house for the Red Cross to pick up. I once returned to find all my discarded clothing scattered around and this made me feel very uncomfortable because though I was disposing them, they were personal belongings and I could suddenly see all the memories associated with them. So I started collecting images of clothing that I’d find on the streets and even created situations where I left them on purpose and took photographs,” she shares.

While she has travelled and lived in places like Brazil and Germany, where she studied at the Academy of Media Arts, Cologne, India has also been her ‘home’ for a short while. “I’ve lived in Mumbai when I was three but that was over 20 years ago and I never returned. The experience of India as an adult has been completely different.

Sometimes, I’m reminded of the past by smells or sights when I walk down the road but since I was so small then, I can’t rely on my memory. It’s interesting because it’s mixed with my experience of places like Brazil in terms of the plants, architecture and way people relate to each other here,” she points out.

Asked about her experience this time, she answers, “It’s nice because Claudia (another bangaloREsident) and I are sharing an apartment in Malleswaram, where there are lots of shops and you can walk around. We were a bit worried initially about safety and how to get around but it’s become much more comfortable now. I’m not afraid to get lost! I’ve been to Lalbagh, Yelahanka, Cooke Town, Shivajinagar and Dollars Colony but there’s still a lot more to see!”

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