Ruth Anderwald and Leonhard Grond have been working as a collective since 1999, creating innovative, interdisciplinary and diverse art and research projects. Subjects range from the question ‚how do we want to be governed‘ to local remembrance and resistance cultures as well as historical artists’ oevres and poetic figures. The intersection of arts and audience is a recurring issue. Many commuters on the Viennese metro will know their project Der Rohbau der ZukunftTM (The Frame of the FutureTM, with Anna Kim). Anderwald + Grond are members of Smart since 2018.
Update: In September 2021, Ruth Anderwald and Leonhard Grond were appointed to the professorship for the PhD program Artistic Research at the University of Applied Arts Vienna. They remain connected to Smart, which makes us very happy!
Smart: How would you describe your professional profile to someone who doesn’t know you yet?
Ruth Anderwald: We are visual artists, but we also curate and do artistic research. That’s why our projects are mostly long-term and interdisciplinary – cutting across, for example, film, video arts and literature.
Leonhard Grond: The artistic research part requires detailed planning and adequate financing as we have to be able to afford long phases of research and interdisciplinary cooperation. Acquisitions are a good source of income.
At the moment, you are dealing with ‚Dizziness as a resource‘, but also with arts in the context of liberation in 1945.
Grond: Dizziness – a resource Taumel – Ein Ressource has been on-going since 2014. It’s an interdisciplinary and artistic research project that engages a lot of artists, philosophers, innovation researchers and psychobiologists. We ask ourselves whether dizziness, which is mainly associated with negative experiences like insecurity or disorientation, can be productive.
Anderwald: Another important issue is the role of art in our culture of remembrance. Construction Site Memory Baustelle Erinnerung is an artistic project that accompanies the renovation of block 17 of the Museum and Memorial Auschwitz-Birkenau, dealing with the accurate representation of Austria’s role in the Nazi regime beyond the victim myth. Art Works! European Culture of Resistance and Liberation (developed together with Roman Fröhlich and Stiftung wannseeFORUM Berlin) is an EU project at the intersection of political and cultural youth work as well as artistic research. Zeithistorisches Zentrum Melk in Austria, wannseeFORUM in Germany, Museion Bozen in Italy and MSU Museum of contemporary art Zagreb in Croatia all participate with one group of youngsters. We aim at co-creating collective works of art that convey, in the here and now, the value of the liberation from fascism for European history.
Dizziness and the liberation from fascism, how does that go together?
Grond: We believe that there are strong relations between these two! Like, do we have a common ground –
Anderwald: – or do we need one, to deal with fundamental changes.
Grond: This is a sociopolitical question, of course.
Juggling with several parallel projects at a time sounds like it’s quite a challenge. How do you cope with everyday working life under these conditions?
Anderwald: Preparing interdisciplinary projects takes a lot of time and work, especially in communication. For planning purposes, we need to consider the different project phases. What is more urgent? What is more in the background? On a typical work day we get up very early (laughs), prepare our kids for school, go for a walk to discuss the different tasks – and then we get those done.
Grond: That might sound unspectacular (laughs), but we like it a lot this way and we also see project development itself as an artistic process, like a social sculpture in the broad sense. We vastly enjoy conveying positions and creating a basic project structure.
You are both Smart users and members, which makes you proud co-owners of the coop. How did this come about and how does it influence your work?
Grond: Fifteen years ago, we came across a similar model in France, but we lost sight of it.
Anderwald: In Vienna, I learned about Smart at a professional training. When we had the opportunity of a larger scale acquisition, we joined the Coop – we like the concept of the collective. We used the money from the acquisition for employment with Smart, which again enabled us to prepare for the EU project.
Grond: This sense of security, especially for a family, is also a sort of quality assurance for artistic work. Creativity needs certain conditions to flourish.
Anderwald: As Virginia Woolf already said– ‚A room and money of one’s own‘!
Interview & text: Xenia Kopf