This past September The Talking Cure opened at the Weisman Art Museum combining the work of New York-based artist Melissa Stern with local artist, UMN faculty member, and 2016-17 Target Studio artist-in-residence, Rebecca Krinke. The Talking Cure features 12 sculptures by Melissa Stern combining found objects, written monologues, and digital recordings into personified archetypes of emotion. In addition to Stern’s sculptures, Rebecca Krinke was commissioned by curator Laura Wertheim Joseph to create an interactive installation allowing visitors to respond directly to the sculptures and share their own stories. Krinke’s resulting work, entited What Needs to Be Said?, allows the viewer to “speak” by leaving a public response pinned to the interactive charred pine and cedar installation. Alternatively, viewers who are more comfortable responding privately are prompted to leave their response in a concealed glass vessel. The installation will conclude with a burning ceremony on April 26th 2017 during which the contents of the vessel will be destroyed. I recently caught up with Rebecca to briefly discuss What Needs To Be Said.
Anya Udovik: What themes do you pursue in your work?
Rebecca Krinke: My practice works across sculpture, interior installations, public art, and social practice - creating spaces, objects, and encounters. In broad terms, my work deals with issues related to trauma and healing. My sculptural practice focuses on embodying trauma - using the body as a starting point - while my installations and site specific works have focused on ideas of healing through contemplative, transformative environments.
My most recent projects have moved into the realm of temporary, participatory public artworks that use writing, mapping, and talking as ways of public engagement/catharsis. My larger practice is both highly personal and collective and seeks to explore what is private and what is public, what is spoken or unspoken, seen or unseen.
Anya Udovik: You previously had a different version of What Needs To Be Said as part of the St. Anthony Park Pop-up in a vacant storefront in St. Paul. How has the project evolved?
Rebecca Krinke: The project in St. Paul contained both a writing room, where private messages could be written and deposited, as well as a wall outside the writing room, where public messages could be clipped.
For the WAM commission, the curator Laura and I discussed creating a space similar to a reading lounge for quiet contemplation. The lounge we created contains a library and is the place where gallery goers sit and write their messages. In designing the display structure, I was inspired by the Japanese tonoma after a recent trip to Japan.
So the intentions and the format is very similar - but the form has changed as it is site specific to WAM. Even if someone doesn’t engage directly with the work, it is of the utmost importance to me, as a visual artist, that my work has the aesthetic impact and aura I am looking for. As I stand back in the gallery, I find my piece to be not only very satisfying, but a compelling and mysterious object in the gallery space.
Anya Udovik: What memborable responses have you had to your work?
Rebecca Krinke: I have had so many memorable responses to my work, each of which have been so gratifying, surprising and wonderful. This is one of the aspects of my practice I truly love. To answer your question, in the context of What Needs to Be Said?, I will give you an example from when the project was installed in St. Paul.
One night as I was closing, a fellow walked in saying he had seen the project’s title in the window and was curious. He said he was a carpenter and we talked about the construction of my project. He loved the burning wood I used. We talked about the idea behind the project and he said he thought it was very powerful. He suggested I take it to other places such as a cemetery, because there is so much left unsaid to those who have died. I thought this was a profound idea and still do. Maybe one day What Needs to be Said? will visit a cemetery.
It has recently been suggested to me that I bring the project to the meetings in Falcon Heights, MN centered on the killing of Philando Castille and police-citizen relations. There are many contexts where I could see the work being recreated.
This Wednesday, November 2nd at 7:00 pm Rebecca Krinke will partake “Reflections on the Unspoken” an interdisciplinary dialogue with Imagine Fund recipient Leslie Morris and Grammy Award-nominated countertenor Ryland Angel. For more information on this event visit z.umn.edu/unspoken
What Needs to Be Said? will be on on display as part of Talking Cure at the Weisman Art Museum through May 1st. The Weisman Art Museum is open from 10 am to 5:00 pm Tuesday through Sunday, with hours extending to 8:00 pm on Wednesday evenings. For more information on the exhibition and visiting WAM, visit wam.umn.edu
Rebecca Krinke is a local artist and University of Minnesota professor, for more information on her current endeavors visit www.rebeccakrinke.com
Anya Udovik is a third year Art History and History major with a particular interest in alternative gallery spaces and museology. Although her primary focus is contemporary Eastern European art history, Anya also enjoys reading up on postwar print culture, transi tombs, and Conceptualism.