Class of 1978, born in Tunis, Tunisia. Nadia Kaabi Linke is a young artist an inquisitive and vivacious mind. Her work is the expression of a constant emergence of different identities and codes.
A medley of cultures and stories seem to intricately come alive from the works of Nadia Kaabi Linke. An archeological reconstruction, the pursuit of cultural codes that become the elements hanging on walls of self-inflicted memory. Deeply connected with the intellect, overcoming the minutiae behind the details, the materials, from blood to nails, everything is a reconstruction of deconstruction. Meet Nadia Kaabi Linke, Phd summa cumma laude from Sorbonne. The poetics of artistic text, written and unwritten.
What is the first image that comes to your mind when you think of your childhood? What colors, landscape, a particular object?
Nadia: I see my Russian grand father “dedoushka”, feel his warmth and protection. The long hours drinking a tee in our small kitchen while he is telling me stories about the books he read, his childhood, the second world war, his love stories and his threatening father. I see the green all around, the fresh smell of the grass the huge streets of Kiev and the “tranvai” number 5 taking me and my mum back home after a long a very long day outside.
How and when did you first approach art?
Nadia: The first contact with the artistic expression started when I was 5 or 6. I loved dancing. I was seriously aiming to become a professional dancer. I went to a professional school till I was 12. But I moved with my family to Dubai in 1990 and that was it. My dream vanished cause at that time there were absolutely no institutions for art and culture. So I started to draw, paint and write.
Do you feel the countries you lived in influenced your aethetics? The conceptuality of your work?
Nadia: Definitely. Every work that I produce is related to a place, to a geographical or social context.
In a sentence how would you like to convey your art?
Nadia: My art has to do with history and stories. Local stories, pieces of stories, bits of spaces that I collect from the urbane space, put together to create new questions. I would say, my art is a kind of archaeology of the everyday life.
Is art a bridge between different worlds? Is it a personal take born from identity?
Nadia: The particularity of the visual arts is that they do not need translations. We can travel within different cultures without visas in terms of learning languages or using translations or better we don't nee to all speak bad English in order to understand each other. That's why, by the way, I consider the objects in the world like words in a dictionary. My work is about finding the right grammar to put the objects together in order to create a new meaning or a particular question that cannot be expressed in words but only in the universal language of images.
What is the central focus of your work? Does it create a space or leaves within one? How were you able to express your art and understand it thanks to the different places you experienced?
Nadia: I don't have one specific theme I work on. My works method, concept and materials vary according to the context in which I decide to work. But there is always a main concern of collecting things, saving traces. I actually don't really create new ideas or new objects. I meet every time a new situation, a new context or an object that gives me an idea of how to combine the material to the concept to the medium I will work with. In every country I find a very different problem or theme that triggers either my curiosity or irritates me. So the ideas as I said come from the different places and experiences that I make with the people and the traces they leave.
Can you tell us about your next exhibit?
Nadia: It's a project which deals with the theme of immigration which is current in my work. the title is “mein stein” which translates my stone. It's a project which will be build in a public space, in a square on the Karl Marx street in Berlin, this part of Berlin has the highest rate of migration in Germany. Inspired by unique pavement in Berlin, I decided to use the mosaic technique and represent the population of Neukoelln with coloured natural stones. These stones will be imported from the countries of origin of the population. “Mein stein” is about a public square made by the people for the people where the stones are symbols of bringing a part of one's own past and planting it in there new home.
Is culture a starting point of exploration?
Nadia: I think culture is in the middle of any artistic expression
Religion? Geography? How according to you these two elements influence an artistic evolution?
Nadia: I don't really know about religion, since I am not religious myself. But religion can be seen as part of culture. Let's put it the other way around: my culture is anchored in the Arab Islamic world, in the Arabic language, the Islamic north African traditions, but also in the Russian orthodox tradition and language and even in the soviet ideologies and traditions, all of this is part of my past, present and imagination. In this sense my art practice is influenced by religion and geography simply because they are part of the world in which I live.
A word to describe your vision of the world?
Nadia: I don't have one unique vision of the world, But I feel in general quiet negative about the future when I see how we humans have mistreated our earth.
Interview by Acelya Yonac