Althea Thauberger, Zivildienst ≠ Kunstprojekt, 2007. Production still. Courtesy of the artist and MACM © Althea Thauberger
Vancouver based artist Althea Thauberger’s video “Zivildienst ≠ Kunstprojekt (Social Service ≠ Art Project)” has recently been showed at the Museum of Contemporary Art of Montreal, an eighteen-minutes black and white film produced with the collaboration of eight young Germans who devoted part of their civil service to this project. Prior to Zivildienst ≠ Kunstprojekt, Thauberger has been working together with varied and often enclaved groups of people or communities such as young Canadian female singer/songwriters, U.S. military wives, Canadian tree planters and Vancouver-based reserve soldiers. Through diverse media such as performances, films, video, audio recordings and photography, and within the process of the production, Thauberger and her amateur performers co-develop and co-create the narratives through their spontaneous and imaginative self-expression. The resulting works consistently pose pointed questions about self-identification and social belonging.
M-KOS [MKOS]: “Zivildienst ≠ Kunstprojekt” was made in 2007. Have you shown this work in different places before?
Althea Thauberger [AT]: Yes. I’ve shown this work in a number of places prior to Montreal. It was first shown in Berlin where it was made and the production of the video was actually presented as a public exhibition. So the public was more or less able to come and observe the filming of the work and as well participate in the discussions that we were having, in terms of the development of the work. And then the first time the video was shown in its entirety was in Utrecht in the Netherlands in early 2007. Since then this work has been shown in New York, Vancouver, London and Guangzhou in China.
MKOS: So, is this work a result of your residency in Berlin?
AT: Yes. It’s a result of a yearlong residency. It’s the one probably many Canadians [artists] know about because it’s one many Canadians have done since it started in maybe 2004. It’s run through the Canada Council and also through Künstlerhaus Bethanien, an international residency organization and art space in Berlin.