Wien Kunst

Interview with Hanna Burkart

Hanna Burkart was born in Vienna, where she graduated in Industrial Design and Site-specific Art. In her performances, she takes a step back from accepted certainties and practices, exercises abstinence and concentration, and explores the spatial and social aspects of walking, sleeping, and living.
"MOVE AND STAY"_ selfportrait © Hanna Burkart
„MOVE AND STAY“ selfportrait © Hanna Burkart

In 2017, she gave up her permanent home to live and work temporarily in various places around the world. Her works are generated while traveling and in specific places that she wants to explore more closely. She creates photographs, drawings, and texts, as well as installations, sculptures, and interventions. Her current solo exhibition at ksRoom runs until 18 January 2024.

Are there certain places that have had a particularly strong influence on your artistic work? Could you tell us about them?
I would say that my work is characterized by the many different places. By that, I mean that being on the road and constantly getting involved in new situations has a big influence. The duration of the stay also plays an important role. If I stay in one place for three months, it influences my work more than if I spend a few nights there. I realized that the further away I am from my familiar surroundings, from the culture and people I know, the more intensely I immerse myself in my work. When I spent four months alone on a piece of land in Senegal, in a 3 x 3 meters hut without electricity, running water, etc., this naturally had a strong influence on me and my artistic work. But I don’t think it has to be the exact place where I was; it’s more about the circumstances. Being alone, nature, seclusion, reduction – these conditions foster my creative processes.

"SLEEP WALK SIT“, Installation. Photo © Hanna Burkart
„SLEEP WALK SIT“, Installation. Photo © Hanna Burkart

Since April 2016, you have been living without a fixed abode and moving to the places where you work. How does this way of life influence your artistic work?
In the way that I create a lot of works and very different ones. The local conditions are decisive, as is, again, the length of the stay. By living on-site, I developed a feeling for the space and its surroundings; certain themes became clear to me, and further work then arose from this. This, in turn, is also determined by the size of the workspace, the materials available, the people in the neighborhood, and the context.

"STAY / MOVE"_tent, installation, Photo © Hanna Burkart
„STAY / MOVE“ tent, installation, Photo © Hanna Burkart

How have you spent the day so far? And where do you currently live?
I sleep eight to nine hours, and as I tend to go to bed late, I also tend to get up later. Then I have my morning rituals, which I do as well as I can in each place. I only switch on my mobile phone once I’ve finished them and had my coffee and cigarette. So I’m usually only available in the afternoon. Today I sat down at the computer afterward to work on this interview. I just had this exhibition in the ksRoom in Styria and lived there for the last week; unfortunately, it has no heating and no running water, which is too much of a strain in the long run.

Can you tell me more about the studies on spatial and social aspects of sleep?
I made my first sleep performance series in New York in 2014. I was living there for half a year, working in a gallery. In the last month of my stay, I didn’t have a flat anymore and didn’t want to look for a new one again. I decided to store my luggage in the gallery and find potential resting places in the city. When you want to spend the night in previously unknown places, your own/basic human needs become very clear. I want to feel safe. Warmth is important. Darkness. Dryness. Peace and quiet. Privacy, even from prying eyes. Although it is only one night, these conditions are essential for a good night’s sleep. They also provide information about places and their conditions in a very short time. As far as the social aspects are concerned, it often happens that I spend the night with people I didn’t even know before. Intuition and trust play a big role here. I only get involved if I have a good feeling. And then it’s not so much about the place where you sleep, but about the time you spend with these people and the stories that emerge.

"EAT"_ living at ksRoom. Photo © Hanna Burkart
„EAT“ living at ksRoom. Photo © Hanna Burkart

Which future projects or directions in your artistic work are you particularly enthusiastic about?
In my artistic work, my own direction is the most important thing to me. It has always been essential for me to be independent and to establish my work beside a dominant art market. An important task of my art is to scrutinize existing systems and point out new paths. There is enough to do. I am currently working on the question of how we as artists can manage to position and sell ourselves better, how we can turn precarious life situations into valuable ones, how we can generate new formats and businesses. Why is there no artists‘ lobby? We should join forces to have more success and more influence on society. There is much more power in art than what I can currently perceive and feel from it. I am enthusiastic about activating these forces.“

"MAY WE MOVE MAY WE STAY"_exhibition view. Photo © Hanna Burkart
„MAY WE MOVE MAY WE STAY“ exhibition view. Photo © Hanna Burkart

What are you working on at the moment? Do you already have plans for 2024?
I usually work on several projects at the same time. Currently, I am focusing on the second booklet for my exhibition ‚May We Move, May We Stay.‘ I’m also working on a few projects that haven’t been finalized yet. These include a film project which I developed in Japan and an accompanying publication, as well as other travel material that I want to process. And then there are ongoing projects. These definitely include my performance series ‚SCHLAFEN INTERNATIONAL‘ and more recent projects, such as a piece of land in Senegal and its utilization, planting, and development. That’s also where I’ll be for the first few months of 2024.

Hanna Burkart –,