Chris Zippel meets Liz Kueneke – hier das Original-Interview auf Englisch/here the original chat between Liz and Chris.
Liz brings people together, I remember many dinners with friends in her house and long talks the world and everything. For example we discussed weekly a different religion or spiritual path while inviting masters or priests of that disciplines to get a genuine insight. Liz Kueneke is a multidisciplinary artist from Chicago and has lived in Ibiza since 2009. Still she very active gathering and managing our little Ibiza tribe to stay connected and creative… Photos: Tasya Menaker (@tasyamenaker)
Recently you expanded your creativity even further with synchronized swimming … How did that come about?
Liz Kueneke: Yes! It was an unexpected twist, but I had some extra time on my hands during the first summer of the pandemic and I began to do experiments with synchronized (or artistic) swimming, just for fun, and in nature. I had been on a team as a young person but hadn’t done it in 30 years. I randomly discovered that my good friend Annabelle, artistically known as ellebannA ( @ellebanna_art ), an incredibly inspiring artist who grew up in Ibiza, also knows how to do synchronized swimming… as she had practiced it some years before in Berlin! I was a bit embarrassed at first to do the artistic swimming, but she encouraged me to start doing it where people could see me. And so I did. And even started making little video vignettes which I posted on my Instagram, as a way of challenging myself. I like to think of these little experiments as using artistic swimming as the medium and my body as the tool… drawing shapes onto the surface and into the depths of the water, while also exploring the essence of each place and how it can be expressed through movement. (@artistic_swimming_in_nature )
You teamed up with an photographer shooting awesome pictures with drones…
Liz: A wonderful photographer and friend living on the island named Tasya Menaker ( @tasyamenaker ) had seen my artistic swimming experiments and proposed to both ellebannA and I to do a project together. We named the project Aguascopio ( @aguascopio ) and Tasya is filming with a drone as we do artistic swimming in the beautiful Mediterranean sea . The word Aguascopio refers to both the camera lense and the water, as well as the kaleidoscopic effect that is created by the swimmers. EllebannA is an international award-winning costume designer, and we wear her beautiful and contemporary costumes while swimming in different locations around the island, that we choose because of their interesting rock formations as well as colors of the sea from the sky. Various musicians from the island and abroad have offered us the use of their music in our videos, which we will be releasing on our Instagram over the springtime. Basically, the three of us are attempting to create an experimental art form, which fuses together artistic swimming, drone photography, costume design, music, and featuring the stunning beauty of our planet. Our goals are pure artistic creation and experimentation, as well as provoking awe and deep respect for the earth. We think the videos can be especially interesting, since they begin with women swimming in the sea and seem to be focused on that aspect, but then as the drone flies upward, the swimmers become smaller and smaller, and begin to look like tiny marine organisms instead of humans, and eventually it just becomes about the incredible beauty of the sea and the island.
How do you do this sport in winter?
Liz: That is a good question! We have become inspired by cold water swimmers throughout the world and are trying to train ourselves by taking a dip in the sea as often as possible during the winter, but we are not filming too much in the winter. We can practice our swimming skills in a pool of course in the winter, but for us, the beauty of being in the sea, with all of its dangers of jellyfish and sea urchins, and challenges such as waves and temperatures, is what we love.
Are there any new currents in synchronized swimming or is it an oldschool sport?
Liz: The current artistic swimmers of the world are incredible athletes… if you saw the sport in the Olympics you can see how strong they are, all with limited oxygen and with a smile on their faces! The sport does have a very specific style though, both in its choreographies and its costumes, which we are trying to diverge from. They three of us are artists and are trying to bring in our own aesthetic and conceptual ideas… something more abstract and more connected to nature.
Any new stuff happening with your mapping project or Hola Pepita?
Liz: My mapping project, The Urban Fabric ( @the_urban_fabric ), which I have taken around the world, in which people gather around hand-embroidered maps of different places and participate by marking their own opinions with needle and thread, is a bit on hold. Inviting strangers to be close to each other and to be touch each other, is a bit of a challenge during the pandemic, so I hope to begin again when that is easier.
The children’s books which I illustrated, “¡Hola Pepita!” and “Verdi and Bella” are still available in stores around the island such as Galeria Elefante. They were made with writer Miroesja Peeperkoorn ( @miroesja ). I am about to publish another children’s book, called “¡Hola Vida!” ( @hola.vida.project ). The writer is a young environmental scientist from Barcelona, the book will also have an ecological theme and be in various languages.
What are your future plans and where do you get inspiration?
Liz: Ibiza’s nature inspires me in every season. In the warmer months I am constantly exploring the coastline for secret swimming locations, and in the winter I am always searching for new hiking trails. Besides Aguascopio in which I am merging my art and the nature of the island, I also recently co-curated an art trail, alongside local artist and kombucha maker Bex Hronek ( @bexi.hronek ) of The Fermentistas ( @losfermentistas ). Transitions Art Trail ( #transitionsarttrail ) was a secret, underground art happening in which small groups were led by futuristic forest bathers on a magical journey through nature. There in the forests, fields and ruins near Sant Carlos, they experienced performance art and other site-specific installations by extraordinary local artists, such as Arnoud Lala ( @arnoudlala ), Roseline de Thelin ( @roselinedethelin ), and Annalisa Rinaldi ( @lichigraphy ), among many others. Stay tuned for future immersive art events that we have in the works!
With Aguascopio, we plan to continue experimenting and creating interesting images. We also may do some live shows. I recently did a performance for an event called The Mermaid Dance, by Vandana Hart ( @vandanahart ), an inspiring woman trying to positively change the world through dance. She will organize more of these events in the springtime as she is slowly moving to the island herself.
As soon as my new children’s book ¡Hola Vida!, is printed I will be giving readings around the island.
I am also very inspired by another artistic group on the island, Theatre of the Ancients ( @theatreoftheancients ). Joanna, the head puppeteer and mastermind, creates incredible events based on the mythology of the island. As I find her work so compelling, I am collaborating with her, both on production and with small performative roles whenever I can.
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