Traveling with Vienna artist KAY WALKOWIAK / by ZELLER VAN ALMSICK

Ever thought about how the form of an object automatically triggers certain emotions and thoughts in your mind? Like how we automatically think, ‘sit,’ when we see a chair; how we think 'grand beauty' when we look at the opera house, or how a large polished wooden floor makes us want to dance like this:


And did you ever think about how if a European and an Asian stand side by side looking at the same object, they’d have completely different thoughts about it?

Young Austrian artist, Kay Walkowiak, current exhibition, “Forms in Time,” at the MAK plays with the theme of form. The brilliant and creative use of this topic in the central film of the exhibition, and the complimenting sculptures and pigment prints, will also play with your mind.

We spoke with Kay about the discoveries from his travels in Asia which inspired the exhibition, and what it’s like to be a young artist in Vienna.

Vienna Würstelstand (VW): Describe the exhibition in a few words.
Kay Walkowiak (KW): It focuses on different topics I’ve been working with in the last 5 years. I use film, pigment prints and sculptures to explore the difference in how Europe and Asia perceive space and form. I’ve always been very interested in how we experience an object in a space, based on our backgrounds. For example, if we see a chair, we know what to do with it because of our memories of how we interact with the object. So what is triggered in our mind when we see an object in space is what this exhibition explores.

VW: A lot of the inspiration for the exhibition is from travel. Let’s talk about traveling
KW: My love for travel already began during my years at university. I’d take the chance every break to go traveling and I was always drawn towards Asia. It didn’t matter if I had wanted to go elsewhere, I always ended up in Asia. It began as just a hobby, but then I began doing small photography projects on the side and after university I applied for a residency in India, in Varanasi, a city between New Delhi and Calcutta. It’s one of the oldest and most traditional cities in India.

I was able to go deeper into the place during this time. I’ve realised since doing my residencies that to really get to know a culture, you can’t just travel through, but you need to stay in the place for a longer time. It also takes time to digest all the new experiences you’re having when traveling.

Getting back to the exhibition, what I’ve tried to do is to explore how form and space is perceived in different cultures. So some works deal with the intersection of European and Asian thoughts.