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HALONA HILBERTZ

 

Born in Austin, Texas to German parents. Moved to Munich, Germany, at 8 years of age, to Düsseldorf a few years later. Studied Painting and Performance Art at Hochschule der Bildenden Kuenste Saar, Saarbruecken, Germany, and at Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, Halifax, Canada. Moved to New York City in 1996. Halona makes objects. Her work has been included in various group and solo shows in Germany, France, Canada, China, the UAE and the United States. Halona co-founded Full Tank, an all-female experimental band with all original songs; her current band is Fetzig, also a DIY band. She lives in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn.

MY ART (5 THOUGHTS)

 

1. Empathy

Empathy can transport people into other worlds; it builds bridges; it connects us all.

 

Our human living arrangements – and doubtlessly many other animals’– are based on Empathy. We live in the family, the group, the tribe, the society; we live with other humans. From the day we are born as helpless babies, we cannot survive without Empathy. It is crucial in human relationships.

 

Empathy is transcendent - it transcends borders. It enables us to feel what other creatures might feel, to see what other creatures might see. It lets us enter worlds that are different from our immediate physical surroundings. It asks us to use our imagination. It asks us to use our capacity for love. It also asks us to use our powers for good. Empathy and Spirituality are cousins.

 

I worry every day about what we humans are doing to our planet. Can we slow down the chain reaction of destructive forces we have created? Can we change what seems to be the fate towards which we are hurtling? Or are we doomed to be a virus, a parasite, living off this earth, so self-serving as a species that we cannot change our ways? ...Until we have made our host so ill it cannot provide for us anymore, and we die along with it? Any positive change can only happen if we employ Empathy. Empathy with our children, Empathy with life’s many forms, Empathy with the earth, Empathy with ourselves.

 

2. The so-called Natural World

I feel strong energy in wood, sea shells, snail shells, wool, hair, bone, and other remains of living beings. I am in awe of the long history of stones, the life force contained in them; the notion that they were once, very long ago, formed out of other substances; and will change yet again, if not noticeably in my lifetime. Imagine how after your death, your body inevitably goes back to the earth; and how it feeds other life forms...microorganisms - fungi - animals - plants…on to water - weather - stones. Everything is connected. The only difficulty in viscerally imagining this connectivity lies in the limits we place on our imagination, especially when it comes to time periods longer than a couple of human life spans.

 

3. The Artifice

On the other hand, I am fascinated with what we generally call Culture. The ideas, the inventions, the forms that abstract human thought can take such as books, theater, arts. But mainly of interest to me in my own immediate art-making are the physical substances that humans have added to the world, which probably wouldn't be there, were it not for us: The woven, died, printed, cut fabrics we wrap our bodies in; plastics; paper; human-made steel; human-made glass; etc. They attest to human ingenuity, to the human push to shape our surroundings.

 

4. My Art
My art is always about Empathy, whatever shape it takes. Some pieces are three-dimensional “collages” of sorts, bringing together diverse materials. Other pieces are "wall dolls", which viewers tend to infuse with specific personalities. Still other works are word-based, coming to life in a more abstract process in the viewer's mind, but still presented on human-made fabric that adds sensuality. Occasionally, I like to juxtapose The Natural World with The Artifice.

Always, my physical experience of making - touching - the art is of the utmost importance to me. I'm in this body for a limited time period and I want to use its sensual tools. I would imagine it might be similar for some viewers; unless they are very fragile, I encourage the touching exploration of my art works.

 

5. Art and The Viewer

Encountering an interesting art piece is like making a new acquaintance: They could turn into an important friend over time. It takes work, both from the art and the viewer. It requires an ongoing balance of giving and taking, in solid, long-term communication. When a true, deep friendship between an art piece and a person has occurred, we know there's a good chance that Empathy has brought them together.

 

 

Halona Hilbertz 2018