Interview with Dobrila Denegri

occasionaly of the exibition "dolci" in the Galery Container,

Rome, 2006

Dobrila Denegri: First I would like to ask you since how long have you been working with ceramic and how this choice of the material occurred?

Aino Nebel: 2000 I started to work with porcellain. Before I used to work mainly with organic matterials like flowers fruits milk fabric eggs ecc. and I had always problems with conservation. So I was looking for something more durabile but in the same way fine and fragile. This time I was in Dresden, where the recipe of porcellain was discovered from alchimists first time in europe.

So I was surrounded by all this amazing barock porcellain things and by the wonder how they made it I started to follow this way.

D.D.: One could think on so many qualities that material like porcelain contains: fragility but at the same time hardness and durability, it alludes to preciousness, whiteness, translucence, resonance, brittleness… Are you interested in the intrinsic or symbolic meaning that can be attributed to the materials you are using and in which way?

A.N.: Yes, the material and his nature is always the starting point and of my work, the material himself is the subjekt. In the pocellain I like the ambivalence of dekadence and the innocence of the white. I need the pleasure for a material to have the motivation to work. Last weeks I started to learn how to treat glas. All my shapes are growing by trying out technics for a special material. I`m always looking for a line of lowest resistens, or, to say it positiv, I look for a tender treatment of the material: folding, blowing, melting, hanging, dropping…

D.D.: Thinking about the ceramic as the material, one immediately thinks on the long tradition of the use of this material in fine and applied arts… just think that one of the first female representations, Venus of Dolní Věstonice, dated about 29.000 BCE is made of weakly burned clay… so since than up to now we have so many possible historical references… I’m wondering if you are inspired by some of this antique or more contemporary examples?

A.N.: Actually I don’t give ceramic arts any preference to others. Contemporary ceramics are used mostly by aplied arts, wich I`m not particulary interested in. Well, I learned a lot from ancient aplied arts. I love madiaeval art. also the barock. I´ve got a lot of inspiration of the katholic art in the italien churches. All this reliquies…i capuccini… crazy! Such a morbid country, your italy! In contemporary art I feel connected to the Informell, how they treaded material.

D.D.:One can feel a sort of “archaic” sense in the form of some of your sculptures… is it connected in some way with a long tradition of use of the clay and china? What is for you important to evoke through this shapes?

A.N.:I never learned the traditionel technics of ceramics. All what I do I try out by myself. I think, if there is something new or special on my ceramic sculptures, then because I never avoid to make all the "mistakes" which you can do in the traditionel way. I love for instance very much the "help" of the killn, who is deforming with his heat the sculptures in a way I can`t controll. I`m always curious about the work wich has been done in my absence.

what do I want to evoke? I have a strong yearning for silence and surrender, this is something I try to make visible or feelable.

D.D.: Another association that raises thinking of the material that you are using is the fact that it comes from the earth, one of the basic symbols of the female principle… and there are other components in your work that alludes to certain kind of “feminine writing”. How intentional is this attention towards feminine attributes in your discourse?

A.N.: Mainly I use the china, and now also glas, with are not so much "from the earth", in contrary, they seem to me very artificial, because they are mixtures of elements and you need precise recives. Somehow it remains me to cooking, you need the feeling for compilation.

The motivation for my work has very biografical reasons. It is a way for me to clear myself my identity, and beeing female is a main fact of my identity.

D.D.: In the last years you developed few, lets say, series or cycles of the work. Could you tell me more in detail how the themes of your work changed?

A.N.: I think I always work about the same themes in different expressions. The themes are my female idendity, the lost childhoud, utopies of innocence, beauty and intimity.

About the series I could give you one example: Once I wanted to make dressed puppets in porcellain, but I did not know how to realise the bodies, I had prolems with technics and statics. So I let away the puppets and just made the dresses and so the serie "pleats" came out. Two years later I got an idea how to make the bodys and they where naked then. So everything is belonging together.

D.D.: You come from Eastern Germany, so I’m wondering if the cultural and social changes you undergone there in the last decade can find it’s reflection in the work you have been doing? One of the main issues that touched people in the contexts like the one you come from was a necessity to re-examine and redefine proper identity, so I’m wondering how you responded to this experience through the work?

A.N.: I don`t have any ambitions to express political subjekts in art (neither in any other way),

but I can say that the collaps of socialism was a big luck in my life. In GDR it was not possible to life a self-defined life as a free artist.

D.D.: On what are you concentrating your latest works? What will your Roman exhibition be about?

A.N.: Most diffucult question because it is not done jet. Lets say I`m making a kind of research about how to lend shapes. Backing for instance. I mix farina and lievito in the clay and try to use it like pasta. for roma I thought it would be nice to make something sensuous and delicious, it is my tribute to the barock city.

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