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Svenja Gräfen – Questions

Which topic turns up again and again in your artistic activities?

On the one hand, there is the issue of confronting one’s self: my own identity and perspective, its inherent privileges as well as experiences of discrimination. On the other, what particularly interests me in my prose is the psychosocial, interpersonal relationships and (power) dynamics, also against the background of societal structures and formative processes. In addition, for me, improvisation is not merely a recurrent topic but also provides access to writing and to language.

What do you seek to achieve with your cultural education activities?

I want to sharpen awareness of language not merely being a means to an end but something that also has to do with power. Words and stories hold power, and who utters or tells them also plays a role, as does whoever receives them. Here, regarding the development of identity as part of cultural education activities, I see a considerable potential for self-reflexion and self-empowerment. Since the research for the latest book I had published, there has been no question that the topic of self-care also plays a role: art and culture not as a luxury item but as part of self-caring practice.

What, in your view, is the essence of an artistic intervention in cultural education?

Less theory and more practice. For me, accessibility and making things accessible plays a central role. Approachable art and culture which can be experienced and lived by people with the most different backgrounds. So, in my case, approaching language and literature via my own writing, my own expressiveness, my own textual definition. Pausing for a moment and questioning, opening up new perspectives through one’s own experience — and new experience based on trying out, experimenting and improvising. These experiences have always also shaped my own approach to artistry.