Interview with Kurt Perschke for Oasis MagazineOasis Magazine
Interviewer: Maha Majzoub
Published Issue #20, Summer 2012
PDF of Full Article in Oasis
-Having exhibited in the Middle East for the first time, in Abu Dhabi, did you feel reactions/interactions were somehow different from those in Europe/U.S.?
Actually every city is different – you never know how the public will react, but there are patterns. In Abu Dhabi many things felt the same as a city in the West or East, the taking of pictures, the surprise, the joy of the kids. What was specific to Abu Dhabi is that this was the first time a work like RedBall had been performed, and in general it has a shyer culture in public space than most cities I have visited, as well as more focused on family. When the work was in a place like the Corniche with tons of families the reaction was quite intense all at once. Some of my favorite sites in Abu Dhabi were outside of the main city where the piece could operate less as ‘art’ and more as sheer wonder and surprise. In one spot we stayed into the night with the local shopkeepers. Art work in a gallery or museum has a ‘context’, but if you venture far beyond it with a bit of luck you get something magical. We certainly did in Abu Dhabi.
-Would you like to see Redball run wild in the Middle East again?
Absolutely. RedBall is about people, and the things that give us joy and surprise or let us play are quite universal.
-Where else would you like Redball to travel?
Well, I have ideas, and sometimes the project has its own ideas. I would love to come back to the Middle East, I learned a lot in Abu Dhabi so I would be excited for that. But it’s a big place – some sites I spotted in Dubai are still in my mind – and all the Emirates are in a fascinating period right now. I have fond memories of Cairo when I lived there as a student, who knows what is possible? Globally, South America would be new, and there are some interested folks in Brazil. Asia is overflowing with great cities, I have just done a visit to Hong Kong for RedBall, and Kyoto has always been a dream. The project responds to invitations, I don’t push it, so it has its own flow.
-Has it been physically impossible to squeeze Redball somewhere (you had in mind)? What of other challenges?
There are always challenges, and some things don’t work. Others seem impossible but become fantastic, like the Sheikh Zayed Bridge in Abu Dhabi. It is only by pushing the edges that you find such things. But of course you need support. In the case of the bridge the person at the Municipality who found RedBall, Abeer Al-Mutawa, made that iconic installation possible. I am very grateful for the chance to try.
-If Redball were a person, would it be a male or a female? And why?
I don’t think of a gender for the work, because art is a reflection of the viewer. So I guess it depends who’s looking.
-Do you think Redball likes being squeezed, shoved, kicked, and played with so much?
I think so. Play is energy, it’s life, who wouldn’t like that?
-Why do you think it’s important for Redball to take to the streets of England this summer?
The lead up to the Olympics is an exciting time, building with people and energy. It will be a great time for RedBall. It also presents an opportunity, we will be able to do some sites in England, especially London, that normally might be impossible. Keep an eye out this June, or track RedBall on the web, because we’ll tweet a pic of each site daily.
-When do you think it will be time for Redball to end its journey?
Right now I am focused on what is still to come, the future. The world is a big place and RedBall never goes backward, never the same city twice, so for everyone it is new. Journeys do end, but I’d rather put energy into what RedBall can do while it lives. Also, I am about to be a father, so I think she will be quite upset if I take RedBall from the world before she also gets a chance to play.