Brigitte Kowanz, Austrian artist from Vienna. Photography © Alfred Weidinger

1.In your opinion what is the role of a museum?

The role of a museum is to ask questions and ignite a different point of view on the past and the future through the present.

2.What are your favorite museums in the world? Why?

I essentially love museums, yet there are some I have a particular connection to. I love the Guggenheim, the Metropolitan and the MAXXI. The Louvre and the Kunsthistorsches Museum are also very special places to me.

There is a private museum in Austria, the Museum Liaunig that I find architecturally quite interesting as well. The Museum Haus Konstruktiv, located in a former power station in Zurich is another favourite of mine, I guess that might have something to do with my work.

3.How important are social networks in your business? And which platform do you prefer and why.

Social networks are good for communication, exchange and the sharing of information. I mainly use Instagram, and enjoy following different cultural institutions, galleries and artists from all over the world. Instagram did change the so-called art world tremendously – for better or for worse.

What I also like about it is that people often do text me, giving me feedback, sending me their impressions and thoughts on my works. I appreciate that. Often, institutions tend to create a barrier between recipients and artists and social networks tend to break that up.

4.In particular, due to the coronavirus emergency, how have you changed your business on social networks?

I didn’t. Since I teach at the University of applied Arts in Vienna, I just spent a lot of time on Zoom, which was an interesting experience. But other than that nothing changed.

Within the context of my work, I have been reflecting on the impacts of digitalization and recent technologocial and media developments such as the Internet and so-called social networks for a few years now. Covid-19 seems to be a huge catalyst for digitalization.

5.To create greater engagement among museums, artists and professionals, do you have any advice for cultural projects such as #MuseumWeek?

Actually I am a big fan of your initiative. The past few years have shown that we as a society are facing global challenges that can only be tackled in a collective manner.

On the one hand, the Internet has brought us closer together. At the same time, although one of the key moments of the internet is its democratic approach, societies are being more and more divided.

We have a responsibilty. Therefore I think it is of high importance to cooperate, to support and challenge eachother in order to collectively generate discourse. 

Interview by Fabio Pariante, journalist


Brigitte Kowanz on social networks: Instagram

Brigitte Kowanz (Vienna, 1975) is an Austrian artist and since 1997 she has been a tenured professor at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna. The artist began using artificial light in her art in the early 1980s, her work since then has investigated its relation with space, language and time.

Kowanz continuously examines the different qualities and manifestations of light in objects, installations and spatial interventions using various illuminants. The medium of light is thereby made tangible and treated as an autonomous phenomenon, material and information carrier, thus a metaphor for a search for new forms to portray a visible reality.

In her works, political statements and information transference merge with a formal aesthetic to illustrate that light is not only a neutral vehicle for information, but also plays a decisive role in shaping it. Kowanz was awarded the “Große Österreichische Staatspreis” in 2009 and represented Austria at the 57th Venice Biennial in 2017.

She has had numerous exhibitions all around the world including the Venice Biennial (1984 & 2017), the Biennale of Sydney (1990), the Bienal de São Paulo (1987), the Cairo Biennale (2019).