Jeroen van der Hulst: How did you find this past month at Agora?
Tracy Abbott Szatan: It was a singular experience, collaborating with someone you meet on the spot and from another part of the world. Then, you are in Berlin, with its own particular culture, offerings, and surprises. Agora like Berlin is a great place of and for encounters. It has been lovely.
Itamar Inbar: It was an interesting experience for sure – going away from my daily environment meeting new people, having the freedom to do whatever I want and see how others respond to it. I wish that was my daily environment
JvdH: You both have a versatile use of different media in your practice, how has this affected the way you worked together during the residency?
II: it worked well, we didnt try to force our usual medium on each other, we enjoyed searching and exploring new mediums to express ourselves like electronics, audio and video mapping
TAS: We both work in video and that was something we worked with from the beginning of the residency. I have worked with some sculpture and objects in video installations and performances, but this was a new venture in responding directly to the environment here with found objects, which is something Itamar really inspired. I had been interested in found, collaged, and appropriated text so that definitely influenced how the postcard pieces were created, which was another early part of the work, but none of this would have happened if it were not for the particulars of this residency.
JvdH: How did the work for Moderately Comprehensible come to exist?
II: It was like sex, we didn’t talk before about how we going to do it, we just did it. The name afterwards, we were looking for something not too specific or that will obligate us to a narrow concept.
TAS: I feel that Itamar and I had some similar themes we previously dealt with in our own work that organically synergized and came to new iterations in Moderately Comprehensible. The work really sprung from our experiences, responding to the materials and the environment, moving between construction and concept.
JvdH: Is the overlay of contemporary media onto used objects and act of appropriation of these found objects or do you see it more as a comment on media itself?
TAS: I don’t see it as a comment on media per se so much as communication and proximities. Voicemails and postcards are really one-way very essential forms of communication, nearly diaristic or confessional; although they do not frequently divulge very much. Perhaps we highlight the ephemerality of such material, but the overlay of new(er) media has more to do with engaging contemporary media and materials in the work itself. Anyway, contemporary media too is ephemeral; even with new means and reasons to archive, everything is reiterable and reiterates. It is an appropriation insofar as we made these materials our own. The original personalities and owners have been rather erased in our creating, though that the objects are seemingly quite common leaves them and the individuals behind them familiar. It is a comment on media itself in that it perhaps questions the types of intimacy or personality we can achieve through such forms of written, spoken, or digital communication, although of course all interactions are mediated.
II: It goes both ways, I think. Maybe because we didn’t know each other in the beginning it was easier to take somebody else’s objects and belongings than putting our own out there, but also we are using a lot of old and vintage objects like postcards and dial phone because they have element of time, the pre internet/ ‘global village’ - back when physical distance was more significant
JvdH: You, the artists, are present in the actual work. Are you equating the images of yourselves to the snippets of memories and information in, for instance, the postcards?
TAS: The postcard is universal, even banal. We look for and see something of ourselves in these forms and materials. It is also about a sense of weight regarding the things we do hold on to – whether that weight is quantifiably measurable or not, which is something everyone deals with. I believe it is also important to implicate ourselves in the work, even though if you did not know us, our bodies, our voices, our languages, you would not know it was us.
II: Definitely. It took us some time but in the end we where ready to put ourselves out there. In the videos there are parts of our naked bodies. Like the postcards, which we also cut up and mixed around to make something new. Sometimes the outcome make sense and sometime not.
JvdH: Do you see themes from your individual practice recurring in the work you collaborated on here?
II: Yes. For me doing what I do is an alternative to going to a psychologist – by taking ideas or issues I have an interest to deal with, exporting them to 2d or 3d, hearing what others think or feel about it, I can understand myself.
TAS: I have been somewhat caught upon the form and forms of language, communication, and notions of place/space in the past, and while these can certainly be seen newly reiterated here, really these are quite universal I think.
JvdH: What will you take home with you from this past month?
TAS: I would like to see the reaction at Tegel [Airport] if I arrived with a suitcase full of cement.
II: Tracy has a really nice overall, I think I will take that….
If you want to know more about their work: