Stefanie Blum is studying a Masters in Fine Art: Contemporary Art Practice at The University of Edinburgh, and is in the second and final year of the course. She works in a range of mediums, including photography, and also creates installations, many of which invite viewers to interact with the piece. Her focus is always on the sculptural, more literally in her installations, but also with the subjects of her photography, which tend to be buildings or some form of structure. We caught up Stefanie to discuss her artwork and her experience on her course.
What made you want to study an MA in Fine Art?
I did a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Germany and I looked into many postgraduate courses in different countries. In the end I decided to study in Edinburgh because I had a really good gut feeling. That is partly due to the specific course, partly because of the wider context. Course-wise I was looking for an open, non-medium-specific understanding of art and a focus on practice, both of which I found. The atmosphere amongst students is also more collaborative and there is an enjoyable lack of hype around the college. Its location played another important role. I immediately felt at home in the city as well as the surrounding landscape.
What inspires you and makes you want to create?
I like mundane everyday things and situations; accidental installations that we encounter all too often. The quiet excitement of misplaced things, unexpected association and just how much thinking and design goes into even overseen things as pipes, switches, lights, and heating. Ideas that interest me, and that I work with include the body in its environment, and the shelters we build to live or rest in; shelters as a third skin, an in-between public and private, and as a nomadic home.
How would you describe your work?
My work is sculptural – whether in the form of installation or photography. It’s about body, form and material. It is informed by my perception of spaces. In sculptural installations there is an urge to restate the space or something in it so that body and architecture may encounter each other. My photographs capture overseen sculptural objects in everyday situations.
What compels you to create installations – what is it about this form you like?
Installations negotiate between sculpture and space. They are experienced physically and spatially. To me that’s exciting; where body and architecture encounter each other and what kind of experience that may be. It also gives me endless opportunities to take into account the particular exhibition space and reflects that I tend to work for specific occasions. That’s my playground and field of experimentation.
What projects have you completed on your course?
On and around the MFA I had eight exhibitions, so quite a lot of possibilities to try out new things and to work with different people as well as different spaces. For example, for ‘Do you believe in life after love,’ I worked with another artist as well as two MA Contemporary Art Theory students. In the run up of the exhibition we had meetings getting to know our individual practices. That format worked well for us. Somehow I was always interested in group processes and communal living/projects. We showed physical art works as well as a text piece each, negating the divide between theory and practice. The ‘Interim’ show at the Talbot Rice Gallery was the first time I exhibited a piece that you could get inside of, and over summer I had my first solo show in Germany, which allowed me to play with the entire space. Last week I made an installation that you enter on a mechanic’s crawler, on your back, rolling into another space.
Have you had a favourite project, or a piece of work that you’re most proud of?
Pride is difficult and I wouldn’t say that I’m proud of my work. If I was, I could stop making it so I don’t think it’s desirable to me to be proud. ‘Verschachtelt’ (Nested) is an important piece to me. It’s a large sculptural object that mirrors the depth of the embrasure of two skylights in Talbot Rice Gallery. White blinds shade the windows, and in the sculpture there are two large mattresses wrapped in white leatherette, and a white site-referencing piece in a white cube that allows the visitor to lie down. Looking up, they see the structure in which they lie in and of course the white cube.
What do you want to say with your artwork?
I make art because I want to say something that I can’t with words. It has to do with enabling physical experiences.
What are you currently working on, or what’s next?
I have two exhibitions soon, showing photography. Next year starts off with very exciting projects too. I’m part of Edinburgh Student Art Festival in February, there will be an exhibition in connection to a residency I’ve been on recently, and our Degree Show is in May – an intense six months coming up.
What has been the most valuable thing you’ve learnt on your course?
The course has helped me get rid of even more of my personal understanding of what kind of art I make. Forgetting what I tend to do and instead try out new things and experiment.
Do you have a dream project for the future?
My dream project is to manage to make art forever. That’s a big one, but the most important to me.
View more of Stefanie Blum’s work at www.stefanieblum.net.