Interview Christmas Artwork: „I Find Quite Some Pleasure in Reduction“

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Beate Rathmayr designed the new edition of Netural´s annual Christmas poster. A thoughtful chat with the artist.

How much is small? How long can silent last? How white are values? Most of the time we forget to ask such questions, and if asked at all, we prefer to leave them unanswered. Which is why we admire people like Beate Rathmayr, who dive headlong into interpreting instead of us, inviting us to step closer at the end of the day. This artist and curator from Linz has designed this year´s Netural Christmas Poster, combining generous empty spaces with countless miniature photos depicting old friends.

Beate Rathmayr, born 1969 in Upper Austria, graduated from Kunstuniversität Linz. Her main artistic focus is on conceptual photography, video and installations. She initiated numerous artist-based initiatives and travel projects. From 2004 until 2011 she was member of the directorate of artist association MAERZ. Since 2007 she and Susanne Blaimschein are program managers of art space KunstRaum Goethestrasse xtd.

Beate, this year´s Netural Christmas Poster aims at the „sustainability” theme. As a very practically oriented artist, you approached this project by recycling characters that are familiar from your photo series „Dreamteams" of 2003. So many years later, these characters seem strikingly fresh, like shot today. How did you feel about this „reunion“?

I really enjoyed it. You need a solid motivation to reboot a project after so many years. „Dreamteams” has always been one of my favorites, and the poster design project opened a whole new perspective, which was exciting in itself. Another important point was that I met Lydia and Albert (Ortig) during the original Dreamteams project.

You created a “hidden object” artwork, and at a closer look it is some kind of sociotope, a network of fractional interrelations. What is the logic behind the spatial arrangement of the characters?

There is no strict logic. I placed these tiny figures allowing them to look at each other, move in directions, interact and conquer the format without introducing an obvious order or forcing them to accept rules.

For us, Christmas is about happiness - and a hope that we can contribute to it. What´s the state of mind of the characters in your artwork? They strike us as quite sociable, even though many of them seem to stand alone?

This is difficult to judge. Happiness may be in the eye of the beholder. I myself feel a growing happiness watching and editing these characters while I meditate on their relationships and lives.

Do you have personal favorites among the stories you are telling here?

I always felt special about some of these images, but I also noticed that these feelings changed during the design process. Some strike me as very charming, others as trivial, and a few are almost too unconventional to take the front stage as my darlings. Still, they are all indispensable in their very individual ways.

This is literally a microcosmos, with the characters so tiny they push the limits of printing technology. What do you think is the significance of size in a world that struggles to contain euphoric growth in a sensible way? Can reduction and inconspiciousness be valid survival strategies?

I like to work with quite inconspicious phenomena, like in this case with miniature characters, with minimal differences in color shades, or with hardly differentiable materials. I actually spend lots of time with tiny details and seemingly irrelevant things. I do not know if this can be a viable survival strategy, but I take quite some pleasure in reduction itself.

Will you carry on with this project, and how? Are those characters and their interrelations in for further rearrangements?

I was very pleased by Netural´s invitation to create their Christmas poster, and this project brought me many new ideas and inspirations. – Yes, I think I should carry on, and I don´t really know how, but I am open for surprises.

What is your biggest Christmas wish?

Hmm, good question.

Snow, maybe. Snow makes everything around a little more silent.

I would appreciate that.

Article: Ernst Demmel / 17.12.2019


Netural GmbH
Peter-Behrens-Platz 2
4020 Linz

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