Karina Smigla-Bobinski – “I am talking about a complex world.”

Karina Smigla-Bobinski standing next to her interactive video installation SIMULACRA, MoTA Museum of Transitory Art, Ljubljana, 2013.
Karina Smigla-Bobinski standing next to her interactive video installation SIMULACRA, MoTA Museum of Transitory Art, Ljubljana, 2013.

Karina Smigla-Bobinski also stages metaphors of memory in public spaces. In 2004 she installed three grass covered artificial ISLANDS (ill. 5) in the lake of the Munich Olympic Park near the Olympia Hill, beneath which the rubble from the destroyed city was piled up after the Second World War (it has now been greened over). At sunset reflections of light revealed women sleeping in the depths: they could be interpreted as personifications beneath the park containing hidden memories of the war. The artist intended the natural movement of the water to create the impression of a video in which the women could be seen breathing and moving gently. Her work with video techniques originally goes back to her paintings studies at the Munich Academy, during which she engaged with the theory of colours and form, and finally with light and space. The reflections in the depths of the lake not only paraphrased the transformation of individual images in a film turned into motion by nature; the sleeping female figures could also be interpreted, as in classic paintings, as allegories of nature or of the women who worked so hard to reconstruct the city (Thomas Huber, 2014). In 2008, the artist used a similar projection entitled DEEP TREE (ill. 9a, b) on the occasion of the sculptural project Ciudad de la Escultura (City of Sculpture) in Mérida in the Mexican state of Yucatán. Here she installed a network of living bamboo canes corresponding to tropical vegetation. The work threw up associations with the mythological Earth Mother Pachamama, who is admired by the indigenous peoples of South America because she gives them life, nourishes them and protects them, is capable of ritual communication and today symbolises identity, social and political resistance, and the hope of an all-round structured life.

Whereas SEE AND BE SCENE (2000) and ISLANDS (2004) implied social, critical, historical and political aspects, the projects between 2005 and 2009 were expressly motivated by social and political considerations. Sensing in advance the dramatic development of refugee problems she was treating the sealing of the outside borders of “Fortress Europe” as early as 2005. Here she reacted to the extension of the border fence around the Spanish enclaves Ceuta and Melilla with her room installation 7 METRES (ill. 7), in which chain-linked fences and barbed wire fences prevented visitors from moving freely within the gallery.

The dance theatre show LETTERS FROM TENTLAND (2005 in Teheran) caused a political uproar. Here the director Helena Waldmann visualised the lives of the Iranian women caught between veils (symbolised by life-size tents) and liberation (symbolised by spoken letters to correspondents abroad). Karina Smigla-Bobinski was responsible for the stage projections featuring images and film sequences from everyday life in Iran. The production was shown in seventeen countries around the world. When a shift in power prevented the Persian protagonists from travelling abroad any more the production was moved to the West with a counter-title RETURN TO SENDER (ill. 8a, b). Now exiled Iranians women from Berlin are living in the tents that have become a symbol of provisional housing: the letters spoken in Iran are passionate pleas for freedom. Alongside music, the video projections by Karina Smigla-Bobinski play a major role. She brings the Iranian world onto the stage with her stills and film sequences of family members of the dancers, urban panoramas of Teheran and lines in Persian writing. 

Mediathek
  • ADA, 2011

    An analogue interactive installation / kinetic sculpture / post-digital drawing machine, PVC balloon, charcoal, helium, Ø = 300 cm.
  • ROUTEN, 2002

    ROUTES, 2002. Single channel video.
  • DREAM JOURNEY, 2002

    DREAM JOURNEY, 2002. Single channel video, 25 mins. Copyright: Karina Smigla-Bobinski
  • WORMHOLE, 2008

    A video installation in a public space. Steel construction, glass, video, monitor, DVD player. Ø = 100 cm, H = 110 cm. Copyright: Karina Smigla-Bobinski.
  • SILVER SALT, 1999. Analogue interactive Installation.

    ill. 1a: SILVER SALT, 1999

    SILVER SALT, 1999. Analogue interactive Installation, photos, plexiglass, earth.
  • SILVER SALT, 1999. Analogue interactive Installation.

    ill. 1b: SILVER SALT, 1999

    SILVER SALT, 1999. Analogue interactive Installation, photos, plexiglass, earth.
  • EMERGING, 1999. Video installation in the floor.

    ill. 2a: EMERGING, 1999

    EMERGING, 1999. Video installation in the floor, ca. 30 x 40 cm.
  • EMERGING, 1999. Video installation in the floor.

    ill. 2b: EMERGING, 1999

    EMERGING, 1999. Video installation in the floor, ca. 30 x 40 cm.
  • DREAM JOURNEY, 2002. Single channel video, 25 mins.

    ill. 3: DREAM JOURNEY, 2002

    DREAM JOURNEY, 2002. Single channel video, 25 mins. Premiere 2002 (see video).
  • A CATWALK BANQUET, 2000. Video stage design for a dance performance.

    ill. 4: SEE AND BE SCENE, 2000

    A CATWALK BANQUET, 2000. Video stage design for a dance performance. Premiere: Haus der deutschen Wirtschaft, Berlin 2000.
  • ISLANDS, 2004. A light and slide installation.

    ill. 5: ISLANDS, 2004

    ISLANDS, 2004. A light and slide installation. Premiere: Olympic Park, Munich, 2004.
  • ALIAS, 2004. An interactive video installation.

    ill. 6: ALIAS, 2004

    ALIAS, 2004. An interactive video installation. Premiere: 2004 (Winner of the Bremen Promotion Prize for Video Art, 2003).
  • 7 METRES, 2005. A room installation. Wire mesh fence, barbed wire, clothing. 300 x 300 cm.

    ill. 7: 7 METRES, 2005

    7 METRES, 2005. A room installation. Wire mesh fence, barbed wire, clothing. 300 x 300 cm, Premiere: Galeria Edgar Neville, Valencia 2005.
  • RETURN TO SENDER, 2006. Video stage design for performance. Video, tents, stage screen, projector.

    ill. 8a: RETURN TO SENDER, 2006

    RETURN TO SENDER, 2006. Video stage design for performance. Video, tents, stage screen, projector. The Montpellier Dance Festival 2006.
  • RETURN TO SENDER, 2006. Video stage design for performance. Video, tents, stage screen, projector.

    ill. 8b: RETURN TO SENDER, 2006

    RETURN TO SENDER, 2006. Video stage design for performance. Video, tents, stage screen, projector. Premiere: the Montpellier Dance Festival 2006 (Detail).
  • DEEP TREE, 2008. A light installation in a public space. Living bamboos, mirror, maxi-slide.

    ill. 9a: DEEP TREE, 2008

    DEEP TREE, 2008. A light installation in a public space. Living bamboos, mirror, maxi-slide. Premiere at the City of Sculpture project in Mérida/Yucatán 2008.
  • DEEP TREE, 2008. A light installation in a public space. Living bamboos, mirror, maxi-slide.

    ill. 9b: DEEP TREE, 2008

    DEEP TREE, 2008. A light installation in a public space. Living bamboos, mirror, maxi-slide. Premiere at the City of Sculpture project in Mérida/Yucatán 2008 (Detail).
  • QUERY, 2009. An on-site, online art project. PVC balloon, helium, Ø = 200 cm high = 400 cm.

    ill. 10a: QUERY, 2009

    QUERY, 2009. An on-site, online art project. PVC balloon, helium, Ø = 200 cm high = 400 cm. Premiere: St. Luke’s Church, Munich 2009.
  • QUERY, 2009. An on-site, online art project. St. Luke’s Church, Munich 2009.

    ill. 10b: QUERY, 2009

    QUERY, 2009. An on-site, online art project. St. Luke’s Church, Munich 2009.
  • QUERY, 2009. An on-site, online art project, 2009.

    ill. 10c: QUERY, 2009

    QUERY, 2009. An on-site, online art project, 2009.
  • ADA, 2011. Analogue interactive installation / kinetic sculpture / post-digital drawing machine, PVC balloon, charcoal, helium, Ø = 300 cm.

    ill. 11a: ADA, 2011

    ADA, 2011. Analogue interactive installation / kinetic sculpture / post-digital drawing machine, PVC balloon, charcoal, helium, Ø = 300 cm.
  • ADA, 2011. Analogue interactive installation / kinetic sculpture / post-digital drawing machine, PVC balloon, charcoal, helium, Ø = 300 cm.

    ill. 11b: ADA, 2011

    ADA, 2011. Analogue interactive installation / kinetic sculpture / post-digital drawing machine, PVC balloon, charcoal, helium, Ø = 300 cm.
  • SIMULACRA, 2013. An interactive video installation.

    ill. 12a: SIMULACRA, 2013

    SIMULACRA, 2013. An interactive video installation.
  • SIMULACRA, 2013. An interactive video installation (Detail).

    ill. 12b: SIMULACRA, 2013

    SIMULACRA, 2013. An interactive video installation (Detail).
  • SIMULACRA, 2013. An interactive video installation (Detail).

    ill. 12c. SIMULACRA, 2013

    SIMULACRA, 2013. An interactive video installation (Detail).
  • CONE, 2013. A sound installation.

    ill. 13: CONE, 2013

    CONE, 2013. A sound installation.Tophane-i Amire Culture and Arts Centre, Istanbul 2013.
  • MORNING STAR, 2013. A sculptural installation made out of arrows.

    ill. 14: MORNING STAR, 2013

    MORNING STAR, 2013. A sculptural installation made out of arrows, Ø = 200 cm.