Ursula Scherrer is a Swiss artist living in New York City. Her work has been shown in festivals, galleries and museums internationally. Her aesthetic training began with dance, transitioned to choreography and expanded to photography, video, text and mixed media. The poetic quality of Scherrer’s video work is one of moving paintings, drawing the viewer into the images. She transforms spaces and landscapes into serene, abstract portraits of rhythm, color and light – inner landscapes in the outside world where the images have less to do with what we see than with the feeling they leave.
Visionaire: Can you explain a little about the event tomorrow? What is the audience signing up for?
Afloat is an installation / performance. For the audience it is an installation, one can come and go, stay as long as one wishes to. There is no beginning nor end. One is invited to sit, stand, lie down, walk around (fortunately there is floor heating). Brian, Kato and I will be performing live continuously, starting before the audience will be there.
Visionaire: Pioneer Works is a massive space, are you taking it over entirely?
The piece is installed by the entrance, one could say in the small space, small only in relationship to the large space. First we wanted to do it in the large space but decided to stay more intimate in order to keep the concentration. I want the audience to have the feeling of being enveloped by the images and the sound. If the space is too large that can get lost.
Visionaire: Why only one night/four hours?
The space is used in different ways, that is what we were offered.
Visionaire: Describe your process of creating your videos and performances?
I started out as a dancer / choreographer. Space was always very important to me. How do I situate myself in a room, am I facing a wall, am I diagonal to a wall, how much space is behind, in front and to the sides of me. And beyond that how does it feel to be in the center of an open space, do I move differently then if I am close to a wall, do I feel differently. How does a small space make me feel in comparison to a large space. So far I have never worked in an artist studio except for a few times when I was in an artist residency. I work in my small New York apartment. The work is created in my head, in my inner world. When I get into the exhibition space I bring that inner world into the outside space. First I feel the space. Then I let the rest unfold.
Quite a few years ago Michelle Nagai invited me to perform with her at Issue Project Room when they were still at the silo. The round space was very difficult for video. I gave myself the task to use it to my advantage. That was when I first used transparent fabric to project into with several projectors. It breaks the space and creates an immense depths. Every angle one looks into the piece is almost a different piece.
For afloat I will use black semi transparent fabric with silver sparkles woven into it. It is magic. It lets the images float in mid air as the outline of the projection disappears.
I film all the video footage myself. A lot of the footage I find in nature, architecture is another source of inspiration. Mostly every day things, nothing spectacular. Leaves in the wind. Reflection of the sun in water, on metal. Glass windows filmed from the inside. It is just as much about how it is filmed, how I move my body when I film. The camera being the extension of my eye. There the dance is coming back into the work.
In performance I mixed these pre recorded images live with an old video mixer from the early 90ties. I love the video noise it creates. So far I have not taken the leap to use a vj program, I need the knobs and sliders of this old instrument.
Visionaire: Your performances are sort of all encompassing/immersive experiences for your audience. What do you find rewarding about creating that?
I am very interested in trying to find a way for the audience to look into themselves while experiencing the work. Looking/listening out and looking/listening in at the same time. I don’t tell stories and yet one can find endless stories in it. Our images and sounds hope to invoke and inspire to explore ones inner worlds. It is less about what one sees and hears then about the feeling it leaves behind.
Visionaire: What’s the favorite installation you have ever created?
That is very hard to say. Every piece has its own life. Some unfold with more ease then others, the ones that get stuck teach me the most.
Visionaire: How did you get into creating these video/performance installations? Any artists in particular you look up to/are inspired by?
Time is an amazing thing, how do I feel time, how long does a minute feel depending of what I do? I like to expand and contract it, play with it. Performing over a long period gives one the space to go deep, to stretch perception, to find more and more subtlety in what at first might seem to be always the same. I like the challenge for us as performers to be able to hold the space over the period of several hours. It needs the trust and knowing of each other that lets us carry each other and the audience through.