A CONVERSATION BETWEEN CARMEN RUETER AND LUCIA BABINA AND HENRIETTE WAAL
CR: How did your come together as a team? I know, you`ve both been involved in this awesome project “The Cook, the Farmer, his Wife and their Neighbour”…
LB/HW: We met indeed because of a research we carried out in Amsterdam West which generated the project “The Cook, the Farmer, his Wife and their Neighbour”
CR:What are your professional backgrounds? Where do you come from? And what brought you to Vienna?
LB/HW: I am (Lucia Babina) a cultural producer based in Rotterdam and Henriette Waal a designer of public space based in Amsterdam. We have been invited by the Wiener Festwochen – Into The City exhibition and in particular by the curators Birgit Lurz and Wolfgang Schlag to realize a site-specific project in the Naschmarkt.
CR: From your perspective, which role does a market play in nowadays city-life? Which features are important to keep the long tradition of the market alive?
LB/HW: Traditional markets have still an important social and cultural role in the city, whereas their economies are getting weak, especially in the case of the Naschmarkt, if there is a lack of strategies to relaunch and reinvent a sustainable market.
CR: What`s your impression of the Naschmarkt in its current state? What do you like, what would you change?
LB/HW: Naschmarkt is a beautiful market, which is unfortunately eaten up by pure speculative logics. Naschmarkt has the potential to be an important meeting place, a laboratory for testing new products and for experimentation, but to achieve this, a collective effort is needed : from the market standholders, from Vienna citizens, from experts and public authorities. Only by building this collective awareness it is possible to change something.
CR: How did you develop the idea of the Market Academy Naschmarkt? Would you describe the process of your approach to the Market Academy Naschmarkt? What does the term ‘monumental market’ mean in this context?
LB/HW: When we got the invitation from the Wiener Festwochen we decided to go to Vienna in March 2010 for a first investigation. When we produce a project we study the context in which we have to work and we see what are the problematics and potentials. Only then we come out with an idea to develop. So we did, for the project in the Naschmarkt. We got in touch with the Marktamt, with politicians, with the Naschmarkt Union, with the single market standholders, with many local citizens. Considering this first investigation we thought that a Market Academy might be an interesting tool to combine a bottom-up and topdown perspective of the market able to relaunch it from an economical, cultural and social point of view. But it is also a device for the production of ideas and knowledge regenerating the market and a platform for an open debate about its future and sustainability.
Naschmarkt is “The Market” in Vienna, it is considered a monument and it is monumental. The treatment reserved to monuments usually kills informality and spontaneous livelihood by giving way to the rediscovery of authenticity: how it used to look like before, in the past. If we are not able to rethink markets and to translate their functions in the city in a more contemporary key, they will simply die.
CR: Which purpose would you like to effect with the Market Academy Naschmarkt?
LB/HW: The project we realize within the Wiener Festwochen: Into the City is the launch of a process we would like to continue after the exhibition time. In the week time of the exhibition we would like to question the issue of a sustainable market, but in a second and long-term stage (we hope we can continue working on it afterwards) we would like to spark off a process of transformation of the market from inside.
CR: Do you consider the interaction with people as a constant part of your artistic practice? If so, why do you consider it as important for your work?
LB/HW: Yes it is an important and fundamental part of our work. Henriette and I started working together in 2008 on the project “The Cook, the Farmer, his Wife and their Neighbour”. This project – which forged our practice – and Market Academy Naschmarkt are both concerned with city dynamics and the way we citizens, at different levels, want to live and cohabit. Citizens have to reconquer their rights to the city by coming together and reflect how to reshape a future that belongs to all of us. When you know the practice and needs of a place and its users you can develop concepts and spacial design together with the people, from inside.
CR: What do you think of the infrastructural renewal of the Naschmarkt, which will start in September 2010?
LB/HW: It is good they are refurbishing the Naschmarkt, but public and private investors consider only the material aspect of a regeneration, they don’t take into account the social aspect, the soul of the market that has to be stimulated and turned to better account.
CR: Which difficulties do you generally consider for infrastructural renewal in nowadays action of urban planning?
LB/HW: Infrastractural renewals reveal how much the “democratic” system we created and we still believe in differentiates between a citizen of category A and a citizen of category B. It is extreme segregating as poorest and weakest citizens are constantly evicted, ghettoized. The main difficulty is to work against that social injustice.
CR: You mentioned that you wish the Market Academy Naschmarkt to be a long – term project. What kind of development can you imagine for the Academy`s future?
LB/HW: It would be incredibly interesting to turn the market into an experimental workshop space where standholders are able to reinvent their market! In order to achieve this, we would like, as a next step, to open up a permanent space in the market that can be used by market people, citizens, artists, experts. A free space to generate ideas, aspirations and dreams.
CR: Thank you for answering my questions!