Katrin Hornek

Settled Travellers, Mobile Settlers

In her most recent video-installation Katrin Hornek continues to work with her key dialectic which organizes her works between movement and stasis, legal and illegal, administrative pragmatism and utopian dreaming, looking back and looking forward, using architecture as a materialization of social structures. This makes architecture a political construction, both an expression of the systems of which it is a part and a mechanism by which these wider social forces can be questioned, challenged and possibly rebuilt.

While on a residency in Cork, Ireland, Hornek began her research on the indigenous Irish nomadic people, the Irish Travellers. Due to the loss of no-man’s-land, modernization and strict new trespass-laws in the past few decades, they have been forced to settle down. Whilst Travellers are not ‘Gypsies’ by blood they lead related lifestyles and are similarly segregated from society.

Interviews were recorded with the Travelling community from a variety of generations portraying their stages of sedentariness chronologically. The camera follows their stories from life on the road in tents and hand-made barrel-top caravans, to trailers parked by the road side, to government-organized trailer parks on hidden halting-sites, to social housing and finally, for those who adapted to the modernizing of Ireland early enough, to privately owned houses. Settled Travellers talk about their former desires to move into a house, their need for mobility and freedom, their possible cleaner future, their boxed feelings whilst living between four walls and their shift in focus to maintenance rather than continuous flow. The imagery switches from architectonical introduction shots to interior details, portraying a capitalization of spaces and minds.

The history of the Travellers is set upon Ireland’s transformation from one of the poorest, rural countries in Western Europe to one of the wealthiest. It’s present day obsessions with property rites, mobility and land ownership is a fundamental part of Irish psyche rooting back to British canonicalisation. Between 1994 and 2006 Ireland had the fastest growing economy in the world, known as ‘Celtic Tiger’, built solely on exploitative property development and speculation. Supported by bad public governance, house prices rose by 519% in less than fifteen years. The fixation with putting down roots was officially manifested in the Housing Act from 2002, which protects private property over cultural traditions by criminalizing trespass and hereby illegalises the Travellers’ way of life. The Irish belief in bricks, mortar and mortgages led to the present financial destruction – leaving highly indebted house-holds, ghost estates and giant empty monoliths like the Cork’s Elysian complex, the tallest yet abandoned building of Ireland.

Katrin Hornek (Austria 1983) currently lives and works in Vienna. She studied at the Royal Danish Academy in Copenhagen and at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna where she graduated in 2008. Her work has recently been shown at Basis Frankfurt, Museum of Modern Art in Moscow and at Pori Art Museum in Finland.

On Thursday January the 13th at 7pm Katrin Hornek will give an artist talk in the gallery. She will also show excerpts of her project – If Architecture Could Talk. Here ideas of freedom professed by Austrians building yurts in their gardens in order to develop self-sufficient ways of living are paralleled with Mongolians who try to move from the yurt – their traditionally nomadic tent vernaculars – into a settled urban environment. The talk and screening on the 13th will be held in dialogue with Dorothé Orczyk, who works as gallery assistant to Ellen de Bruijne and is a project manager for War Zone Amsterdam. Next to that, she is writing her Master-thesis on the relation between financial and aesthetic value of contemporary art.

Opening at EdB/Dolores: Sat.08/01/2011 17 – 19 hrs.
Artist talk: Thu. 13th January 19 – 21 hrs.
Exhibition period: 08/01/2011 – 26/02/2011
Curator for Dolores: Karin Hasselberg

Ellen de Bruijne PROJECTS | Dolores
Rozengracht 207A
1016 LZ Amsterdam
The Netherlands