3.5 Billion Heart Beats, an Interview With Eva Petrič

Interviews, Lead Article

By Austin Kaiser, Staff Writer, All About Solo
 
Eva Petrič, born in Slovenia, has lived in New York since 2016. She works in photography, video, performance, installation and writing. She completed an IB with distinction in art at UNIS in New York in 2002, a BA in psychology and visual art at Webster University in Vienna in 2005, and an MFA in new media at Transart Institute in New York and Berlin in 2010. She has had over 40 solo and 60 group exhibitions in Europe, USA and Asia. Selected awards: 2017 Best Performance Art Award, United Solo Theatre Festival, NYC; 2017 Grand Prix 6th International Fine Arts Festival in Kranj, Slovenia; 2017 Grant of the Ministry of Culture of Slovenia; Red Carpet Tribute Award 2017 in Vienna, Austria; 2016 SNBA Silver medal for photography in Paris, France; 2011 Pfann‑Ohmann‑Preis in Vienna, Austria; 2010 Vordemberge‑Gildewart Award.
 
Austin Kaiser: How were you introduced to theater?
Eva Petrič: Theater, or better said, the stage, has always been a part of my life. When I was 4 years old I wanted to be just like my older sister Ana, who was training in rhythmic gymnastics. I became the youngest student in the class. This took me to ballet at age 6, which remained part of my life until age 18. After that, I began to focus on performance art, which culminated in my show at the United Solo Theatre Festival. I have also participated in theater through my work in costume, video, set design, and music.
 
Apparently, a human heart can beat 3.5 billion times in one lifetime. What do you find important to do during those beats?
It’s important to be aware that none of those beats is replaceable, and that they are not beating up, but instead beating down. With each beat we lose a beat, but at the same time, we gain irreplaceable experience. We should be aware of it and cherish it. Also, each of our beats keeps us alive, in harmony with the whole complexity of the internal workings of our body, so that we may partake in what we know as life. With each beat an electrical impulse is given off, meaning that we influence each and every thing with which we come into contact close enough to permeate our inner circle of electrical charge.
 
Imagine an alien has come to Earth and wants to know what the heart does, and why it’s so special. What do you tell them?
The heart is so much more than just a self‑energizing pump that keeps us going and going and going. It is also an incubator of emotions, a limitless internal sanctuary that goes beyond borders.
 
How many shows have you made? Including the ones you made when you were a kid entertaining your family. Can you list them?
Oh, too many to list, if I were to include my main practice of being a multimedia artist. But my most memorable shows have been at the performing arts center Cankarjev Dom in Ljubljana in 2018, where I performed “Eden, transplanted” for World Heart Day. The audience mostly consisted of international experts and surgeons from all over the world, so it was a very special kind of audience who I think appreciated the performance in another way. “Eden, transplanted” incorporates a lot of medical imagery and sound, in addition to being a reflection of my personal experience of having been in operating rooms numerous times, witnessing various liver and kidney transplants, and heart bypass surgeries. It was quite different when I performed the same installation barefoot, in a much smaller and more intimate venue, outdoors in the secret garden of the artist organization DLUL in Slovenia. This was for me, the most pleasurable performance ever, connecting with nature and truly losing myself in each piece. And yet another very memorable performance of this same piece, for which I created a different backdrop installation (I always perform “Eden, transplanted” in a different way visually), was in Ajdovščina, in their main theater. Afterwards there was a panel discussion about the presence of HEART in medicine and art with leading Slovene oncology surgeon Erik Brecelj. He is one of the most heartfelt surgeons, who really stands up for patients’ rights and a heartfelt approach to the patient‑doctor relationship.
 
What’s something crazy that someone has told you they felt or thought while watching your show?
That it is otherworldly and magical, and that it takes the viewer out of their everyday world into another tangible reality.
 
What would you like the younger generation to think of during your performance?
I hope they would appreciate the rawness of it, and how a lot can be achieved without much technology. I definitely feel that my piece speaks to the younger generation, in terms of the idea of exploration of other worlds. This is something that our and future generations sadly must deal with, since conditions for life on Earth are becoming troublesome. Furthermore, there is the layering of different mediums and ideas, and the phenomena of interconnectedness, which, through the presence of the Internet—which my lace backdrops allude to—has changed our lives and world, as well as our perception of it, to a tremendous degree. To a certain degree, this has created a rift between the younger and older generations, and their perceptions of life and interpersonal relationships.
 
If someone is in love with your work, how can they see more of it?
Currently I have two large installation works: ”Safety Blanket” and “Collective Heart,” at the group show, “The Value of Sanctuary: Building a House Without Walls,” at the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine.
 
Eden, Transplanted
Written and Performed by Eva Petric
Choreography by Janis Brenner
Monday, Nov 4th at 7PM
Photo credit: Meinrad Hofer
2019 United Solo Theatre Festival
Theatre Row
New York City
 
AUSTIN KAISER, currently writing a book called, “100 Questions Every Artist Should Have The Answers To.” His other book, “How To Go Viral & Put Wings On Ideas: A Book For Content Creators & Young Artists,” explains how ideas travel and which ideas travel best. More at www.medium.com/@KaiserMane.
 

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