Exploring Digital and Physical Space with Matylda Krzykowski

Every artist has different themes and ideas that come through in their work. For Matylda Krzykowski, a keen eye for digital and physical spaces, their objects and processes, and the question of representation, are all themes that she explores. She holds many different artistic titles, currently aiming to deploy methods from theatre production, if only so she can further explore her creative ideas on a larger stage and scale.

Our conversation with Matylda helped us understand why contemporary theatre is such a source of inspiration for her work, how her journey involves being surrounded by people while also simultaneously being alone, and what empowerment means to her. Read on and learn about Matylda’s creative journey through different artistic expressions like blogging, archiving, teaching, art directing, consulting and curating.

What kind of work do you do, and how do you see yourself?

‘I walk flawlessly through the world of ideas’ is what I once said in an introduction. Obviously that’s not what anyone wants to hear. But this is who I am: a designer, curator, artistic director, professor, mentor, host, scenographer, performer and ultimately, an artist (laughs). I have been self-employed since my teenage years, which trains you to be opportunistic. I find it rewarding to play various roles.

Who do you look up to?

Mary Poppins. She appears when she is needed; she surprises and moves on once she’s done.

Where do you find the most inspiration?

When I produce exhibitions I think of contemporary theatre. Making exhibitions means that people explore what is on show by themselves. Theatre means you have the attention of the people from the beginning to the end. My work relates to digital and physical spaces, their objects and processes, and the question of how to present and represent these. The increasingly blurred lines between the digital and physical experiences of our contemporary world intrigues and inspires me. I guess that’s why some of the exhibitions I worked on tend to look like renderings. It’s a contradiction to myself because in reality I think we need to have more messy spaces because certain kinds of disorder can make things fall in place.

Forum for an Attitude at Vitra Design Museum Gallery, Depot Basel
Forum for an Attitude at Vitra Design Museum Gallery, Depot Basel

Tell us about three recent projects you worked on?

I recently worked with Luke Archer on Depot Basel’s Online Depot, a digital archive that translated the mainly physical work we have done in seven years into digital content accessible for everyone.

A snapshot from Depot Basel’s Online Depot

I enjoyed the collaboration

 with Chamber and the commissioned collages by Sasa Stucin, Koos Breen, Builders Club and Wang & Söderström that capture the work from the exhibition in one image, referencing Richard Hamilton’s artwork from 1956.

Exhibition View, This Is Today at Chamber, Show II of Collection #3, curated by Matylda Krzykowski. Photo by Erik B.Kreider

Collage for This Is Today, Show II of Collection #3, by Koos Breen commissioned by Matylda Krzykowski for Chamber

Finally, the Desktop Exhibition; a format that I developed shortly after Depot Basel closed its physical space in August 2017. I frequently speak about contemporary culture within various topics and I choose to use my desktop as curatorial platform where I can open up files as I would if I were walking the audience through a physical space. Tom Hancocks did the first scenography for a Desktop Exhibition I did about Gender & Technology.

Desktop Exhibition on theme of ‘Gender & Technology’ for the conference ‘Is Technology Sexist?’ at Institut Kunst Basel. Scenography by Tom Hancocks.

What is your dream holiday getaway?

Traveling without luggage is the dream holiday situation. You can move freely and you never wake up in the same place.

If everyone in the world were made up of 2 elements, which would yours be?

A door and its handle.

What makes you feel empowered, and when do you feel most empowered?

I think feeling surprised can be the most rewarding and empowering state to exist in.

Do you feel that it’s important to stay up to date with technology? 

Yes, absolutely. My students at the Industrial Design department of the Muthesius University of Art and Design in Germany engage with current developments of technology every single day. Education is a privileged territory that keeps you up to date. The students I work with are skilled Medical and/or Interface designers, who use modern tools at hand while being sure to critically analyse their application. You learn as much from your students as they learn from you, if you allow your teaching to be not teaching.

How do you see your future?

I will be always a designer, but I would like to look into other formats to discuss and develop contemporary themes. I see the near future in Chicago as a visiting professor in the Architecture and Design department of The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. My plans relate to the development of active props and architectural structures. I imagine eventually withdrawing from the role of a professor and shifting towards the role of a theatre director. I think theatre could break with traditional expectations of design and architecture.

Portrait by Lauren Coleman with a sculpture by Rafal Dominik and Trix and Robert Haussmann

As someone who is always creating and expanding your network, how did this artistic journey begin? 

I was already a communicative, artistic child before Kindergarten. I wasn’t necessary interested in security, but rather in being challenged. When I was twelve I was the head of the dance group in school, where I developed choreographies. What I do today hasn’t really changed from what I have done as a child. I am still alone a lot while being constantly surrounded by other people.

Was MATANDME the start of your exciting career?

My brother Matthäus Krzykowski gave me the MATANDME domain as a gift in 2007. He told me to put all my encounters and observations on a blog, because he thought it was exceptional how much time I dedicated to studio visits while I was a student. I started collecting Drawn Interviews to convince people to let me see their studios and houses.

Screenshot, Graphic Design of MATANDME by Christoph Knoth

What is one of your biggest strengths?

James McLachlan from Icon Magazine UK says I am astute. Can we call it a strength?

‘Stretching the museum’, a debate organized by Design Academy Eindhoven at Palazzo Clerici in Milan. With Justin McGuirk, Aric Chen, Paola Antonelli and Alice Twemlow

How did DEPOT BASEL start?

With an encounter between Laura Pregger and myself. She was a Basel-based product and jewellery designer and I was already initiating cultural projects. We saw each other occasionally at various cultural events and at some point she said I should come to Basel. Together with Moritz Walther, a cultural manager, and Elias Schäfer, an economist, we founded the so-called ‘Place for contemporary design,’ because we shared a common vision. We felt that design should be developed and discussed beyond commercial organisations and already existing cultural institutions that urgently needed an update, because they deal with design of the past and rarely with design of today.

Photo by Matylda Krzykowski, Commission by Depot Basel, Poster by Common Interest

What ideas are you currently exploring?

I am into methods and formats. My interests are frameworks for discourse and development. One format I developed is Design Date. You might think it professionally matches people on stage, but its unrehearsed theater, maybe a performance, that shows how adulation manipulates us to make decisions.

Design Date, Graphic Design by Sepus Noordmans

Follow Matylda on LinkedIn and Instagram to keep up with the artist’s latest news and work.

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Header image photographed by Delfino Sisto Legnani

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