Bronwyn Lace and Marcus Neustetter

Interview

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Drawing by Marcus Neustetter

The following is from an e-mail conversation between Marcus Neustetter and Kennedy Engelstad, August 2015

 

Kennedy Engelstad (KE): Do you plan on expanding this project to other parts of the world?

 

Marcus Neustetter (MN): To date we have not had the opportunity to expand the project to other parts of the world, but we feel that the project has much to offer as a socially engaged practice between art and science. We imagine that its methodology and learnings can be adapted for different contexts and challenges. One needs to however acknowledge that the site-specifc response to the unique experiences in Sutherland is what has allowed the project to evolve. Response to other communities and contexts would most likely result in a very different project. 

 

KE: Have you learned anything from working with people of all ages on this project (especially kids) that have impacted your other projects?

 

NM: Yes, the process of engaging with people always provides new perspectives on ones own understanding of context and ones creative production. The wealth of the exchange with different communities for personal artistic growth becomes evident in other projects too and it provides new insight in making ones work relevant to participants and audiences.

 

KE: What made you want to used kites to convey the message?

 

NM: For us there was a need for announcing ourselves to the local community and to get people to look up for the International Year of Astronomy at the beginning of 2009. The kites were a simple and effective tool to start an engagement and create something beautiful and playful in the Karoo sky. 

 

KE: How did people respond to the kites?

 

NM: The moment we launched the first kite we had almost a hundred children around us wanting to participate. Following the activity of flying kites, participating children engaged in acts of making ones own, imagining and illustriating the perspective of a kite of the small town of Sutherland and eventually exploring other ways of activating the landscape and the sky. It is important to note that the kites, while reappearing in the 6 years to follow, were only one small component of the project. It gave us access and approach to the community. It was an activation that galvanised many relationships and opportunities. Partners started to understand the symbolic nature of what the kite flying spectacle was about and the project grew. Some of the children that first flew kites with us, now young adults, have also bought into the project and grown with us through various journeys following their first kite flying experience.