November 20 – December 9, 2012
Opening Reception on November 20 | 7pm – 9pm
Accompanied with live music by Forrest Rosenthal & Eric North
Curated by Daniel Koppersmith
Interview with Gundula Kientzler
by Daniel Koppersmith
Daniel Koppersmith (DK): You often speak of how one of your senses, for instance an impression of colour, can be produced by a sound. Some refer to this as synaesthesia. Could you begin by speaking about when you first became aware of these experiences?
Gundula Kientzler (GK): Looking back, words were colours, forms were tones, and even movements were colours. Plants even had a sound.
DK: Where did such experiences lead you?
GK: Because of these interrelations of experiences, I was not only interested in painting but also expressions with music, movement (dance) and sculpture. This would have been in my teen years. At 18 years of age, there came another influence into my life. I visited a factory where workers did art therapy. This made such an impression that the decision to study art therapy came to me.
DK: Did you then start studies in art therapy?
GK: I only did a practicum. This involved children with learning disabilities. Also, I did a year of studies in sculpture and pottery. But then I did a big, big break! Five children came my way, so my interest in therapy was delayed. But this is not to say that I didn’t continue art and therapy. Dance, music improvisation, painting, drawing, and sculpture continued.
DK: In what way?
GK: It happened that when there in Germany, I met several poets and musicians. We responded to one another’s work. I painted to a poem or improvised music to a painting, for example. If I think about it, I now began to use the idea of synaesthesia in a more aware way.
DK: Would you care to talk about how synaestesia is useful in your art therapy work?
GK: When students are overloaded by thinking, for example, I give a task where synaesthesia is required. A sense impression is given, say a sound. Or different sounds. And then let them express in movement, colour, and words these sounds. The response they give to these impressions is enlivened.
DK: What do you mean enlivened? How is overloaded thinking not enlivened? What were such students like in the first place?
GK: They had an exhausted and dried-up quality. They were also stressed. The synaesthesia approach brought a playfulness and a lightness with it and a finer sense of sound and a stronger sense of themselves.
DK: In 2002 you moved from Germany to Burnaby, Canada. Four of your five children were grown. Did this work with synaesthesia continue here in Canada?
GK: Yes. I met some artists who had similar questions like me. For example: how does it look if art shapes the relationship to myself and to the world? We began by working together (there were five of us) responding through painting, sculpture, drawing, and sometimes sound, to sense impressions. Salt on the tongue, for example: what does it look like?
Over time we moved on to exploring moods, emotions, and ideas, like the idea of freedom. What does freedom look like? Sound like? What does its opposite look like or sound like? Often in our exercises we discovered similar forms and dynamics. This was an interesting discovery that in subjective expressions we found objective qualities.
DK: What can we look for in the exhibit here at the café for contemporary art that speaks to the qualities of synaesthesia?
GK: To take time. Not only to look but to listen to what you see. Or respond in your own way through writing or drawing.