Contemporary Art @ Boğaziçi - Interview Project, 2010
Maria Korporal (The Netherlands, 1962)

Emre Gercel,

Maria Korporal is a New Media artist from Netherlands, living in Italy, focused mostly on video-art and net-art. Since 1998 she has dedicated herself to using the new media arts for her expression. She is a very active user of the internet and it was very easy to contact her. She has a comprehensive website, in which her artworks can easily be reached. She is continuously producing her work and informing her followers continuously via her up to date website, facebook, and twitter. She is a true animal lover; animals play a role in her artworks. Some of her works include concrete stories, and she sometimes doesn’t reveal the stories in detail to keep her works more affective. Sometimes she is inspired by Juan Ramon Jimenez, and at the same time her works may involve some Michelangelo although she is not directly inspired by him.
Recently she has participated in “How Much?” International Contemporary Art Exhibition in Cyprus with one of her video-art works. She was very kind; answering each question in detail, and informing me continuously about the state of the interview. She even didn’t refuse to sign a photo of my hand and send it back to me. (Hands; she is interested in and she uses in her artworks.)
Emre Gercel: First of all can you define new media art for me? How did you become a new media artist? What is the influence of your family and education? What is the effect of moving to Italy from Netherlands in your artworks?
Maria Korporal: New media art is a genre that encompasses artworks created with new media technologies, including digital art, computer graphics, computer animation, virtual art, Internet art. I became a new media artist very gradually. When I studied at the Academy of Arts, from 1981-1986, I started with graphics and painting, but during those years I got involved in photography, and I became interested in the moving image, in the use of sounds, in technology etcetera. I graduated with, among other things, a video installation with an animation movie. Of course this movie was still made by means of analog media: 16 mm film, later transferred on magnetic tape. Finished my studies I went to Italy and there I got back to painting and graphics, merely because I did not have the money to buy me an equipment for making movies. However I had the opportunity to use a small photography laboratory for quite a period. In the beginning of the nineties I began to work for a publishing house, directing the production and book design. In this environment I became involved with the use of computers, and I began applying digital techniques in my art work as well. Since 1998 I have dedicated myself to the new media arts for my artistic expression. My family and education have had very little influence on my artistic career; I am the only artist in the family.
Emre Gercel: What makes somebody's work a piece of art or in other words how do you call someone an artist? Must there be reasoning or an aim in the backgrounds of pieces of art?
Maria Korporal: That is not an easy question. I suppose some fundamental characteristics distinguish an artist from an amateur, but this is my personal view, I think many persons might not agree.
First of all, an artist is never completely satisfied with his or her work. Of course there is great happiness after a work has been finished, nevertheless there is always the feeling that he or she could do better still. That is why an artist never retires. Even if one is very old, there is always work to be done.
Secondly, for an artist his or her art is the most important thing in life. Thus there is a will to sacrifice, to give scarce importance to social life and to create a “normal” family, to care very little about material possessions; of course it is not always that extreme, but I think the will to sacrifice is present in each artist.
Thirdly, there is of course always reasoning or an aim in the background of a work of art, but it is the way in which it has taken shape which determines the quality of the work. If the message behind the artwork is too literal or too evident, it is not a good piece of art. Artists, also the very rational, do not only work with their intellect; intuition plays a very big role. That is why an artwork cannot be fully explained, there is much more behind it than just the rational aim of the artist. This brings me to the answer of the next question: an artwork ought to be open for different interpretations.
Emre Gercel: After I watched your videos, I showed them to several people and asked them what they think about the videos. I observed different comments as well as similar ones. This made me wonder your true stories and messages involved in your work; especially in "A Midwinter Night's Dream" and in "Passing By". Do you mind sharing these messages and stories if there are any?
Maria Korporal: I like it when people have different interpretations of my work. I also like to listen to them, because I can learn from them. When I create an artwork, I certainly have some clear ideas of the final result, but almost always things change during the creative process. As I said before, as an artist I do not use only intellect but also intuition, so it is possible that I discover other aspects after a work has been finished and the opinion of other people can help me in this way.
"A Midwinter Night's Dream" is a composition of several small video pieces I made in different periods. They are all very personal, but there is not a concrete story behind it. I merely wanted to create a very intimate, private atmosphere, which suggests a dream, but does not explain it. If I would tell the dream, the magic would be destroyed.
"Passing By" on the other hand was made in a completely different way. I created the footage appropriate for this video, and the point of departure was a confrontation between the animal and the human world. But the idea of introducing the till receipts came during the work’s progress, and I invented the final scene with the cars at the last moment. To conclude, the theme of consumerism did not exist when I started out with the work, but has been developed during the making of the film.
Emre Gercel: Can you tell me about your participation in "H?w much" in Cyprus?
Maria Korporal: I participated in “H?w much” thanks to VisualContainer, an Italian video art distributor, they curated it together with Nail Özlüsoylu. I feel sorry that I could not be present at the showing. Anyway, my work was shown at the public, and that is the most important thing.
Emre Gercel: Animals, especially cats play a big role in most of your works. How did they become this much involved in your works?
Maria Korporal: Cats play an important role in my life, I have had them for many years as pets, and I have a special relationship with them in terms of affection and communication. But I love all animals, I like to examine their behavior, see how they act in their world, parallel to the world of human beings. The project I am actually working on is called Korporal Zoo and it deals with the relationship between animals and human beings studied from several perspectives: cultural, social, environmental.
Emre Gercel: There is a lot to ask about specific elements in your videos, but there is one I wonder the most. In "Elegia di Marzo" when the rocks turn out to be hands, it reminded me of Michelangelo's painting "The Hand of God"; do you refer to this painting? This also made me wonder if religion is a part of your artworks.
Maria Korporal: I did not refer directly to Michelangelo’s painting in my video “Elegia di Marzo”. As often happens, I realized only afterwards the similarity with the work by Michelangelo. The video is inspired by a love poem by Juan Ramon Jimenez, situated in a garden in early spring where inanimate forms are anthropized in the imagination of the poet. I thought more about a meeting between two lovers when I made the work. But if someone sees in it a reference to the creation of man, I think this is correct.
Religion can be sometimes a part of my artworks. An example is the eye in the triangle in “A Cat Has Seven Lives”. It is a frequently used symbol in the Calvinist protestant religion of my childhood and was present in a painting in my grandparent’s house. On the Italian website Nuovetendenze I tell about this symbol and the role it played in my childhood. The story is in Italian, but you can see a sequence of three pictures, if you click on the image; the third picture is the painting of my grandparents:
Emre Gercel: Can you tell us about the role of hands and feet in your works, especially in your net-art pieces?
Maria Korporal: I like using hands and feet not only because they are interesting forms by themselves, but also because, with their particular movements, they are able to suggest other forms or situations. Virtual situations – in that sense, they are a kind of anthropized form of media, while media themselves are an artificial form of human acting.
When I work with hands and feet, I often think of the texts by Marshall McLuhan, the well-known communications theorist, who sees media as human extensions. For example, the hammer can be seen as the “extension of the arm” and the wheel as “an extension of the foot.”
Emre Gercel: In our course, we are interested a lot with net-art. Can you tell the difference in your point of view between net-art and web-art, and how you consider your works as pieces of net-art? Also can you give a brief summary of the techniques you use in your net-art?
Maria Korporal: There is much confusion about the difference between net-art and web-art and to tell you the truth, I do not have a clear opinion about it. I prefer the term net-art, because it is much more common.
I consider my work to be pieces of net-art only if they function by means of a web browser or program. The project Zweiart Mobile, , is net art because it is not possible to see/hear it in other ways than with the help of a web browser.
Emre Gercel: Can you tell me about Zweiart, how did it form the effect of exchanging ideas with Marina Buening in your artworks?
Maria Korporal: Marina and I met in the year 2000 and in the years to follow we developed a reciprocal interest in our artworks. Marina is a sculptor and her work is characterized by the use of a wide array of materials: from marble to paper, from plush to nylon thread. She creates sculptures but installations as well. The idea to collaborate came very naturally. Our first project was an installation called Interface, which is a common term in the computer world and has become almost synonymous for the linkage between two different hardware or software systems. But in fact the term “Interface” has existed for over a century and means in general the process or the method of connecting two units. Our work Interface consisted of a number of huge paper masks; they were built by Marina and were hanging from the ceiling. On these masks two different videos created by me were projected in sequences: one of them came from a video projector, the other one from a slide projector. They showed images of nets – elaborated by means of computer animation techniques – moving continuously, while playing with the organic forms of the masks. The choice for a net did not come by mere chance; in fact a net is a perfect representation of the concept “interface”, an entanglement of connections. The whole work was accompanied by suggestive sounds playing in the background. You can see a documentation video of the project on my Vimeo channel:
After Interface we made two other installations, “Is She Asleep?” and “Identified Moving Objects”, see our website
The collaboration with Marina had a very positive influence on my individual work. I am inclined to do everything on my own; working together with someone else, exchanging ideas, was a beautiful experience and I learned a lot from it.
Emre Gercel: Finally, can you tell a bit about your future projects?
Maria Korporal: As I said before, I am actually working on the project Korporal Zoo: a series of short movies which treat the relationship between animals and human beings from different points of view – cultural, social, and environmental. I already finished two episodes. The first one, called The Waltz, deals with women and birds and has a clear reference to women’s emancipation. It was projected during a festival in Rome at the end of April 2010. The second one, Desert Tree, is based on a Mongolian legend about camels, and refers to the environmental problem. It will be shown at the end of May. The final project will consist of 10-12 short films and be presented as a whole, available on DVD.