Kay Cowley is a practicing artist and lecturer in the Art Department at UNAM
ARTWOLFE: How have you found the process of being here?
Kay: It was scary. There was quite a lot of antic- ipation leading up to it. All the Namibians were trying to find out who the other Namibians are. I think that having an opportunity like this on an international platform was something that I couldn’t miss out on. When the PDC organisers approached me, because I had done an interactive installation (Desert Rain) for Land Matters, 2013, I could not pass up the opportunity.
ARTWOLFE: Who did you find interacted most with your work?
Kay: Well obviously the comedian, Chicken, and then the student assistants. They helped me set up the installation. They did the stencilling. They helped me with the weaving. They also saved catering packaging they had collected over the last week that we incorporated into the work. Children are obviously the most spontaneous participants – they still remember how to play.
ARTWOLFE: Yes, in participatory art emphasis is often put on audience experience, but there is also the participation of collaborators making the work. What do you make of this?
Kay: You can’t make interactive art on your own. When I was a student at university, during apartheid, there was the concept of ‘the Artist’ living alone in an ivory tower. When I moved back home after independence I discovered Namibia’s art community, the diversity of skills and interests that tie it together and I was able to engage with so many different materials and processes and environments. Art became a social and interactive process. As an artist this was a really valuable experience. Interactive installations require you to be creative with other people, a range of people, not just artists. You collaborate with students, with people from other professions and with digital interfaces. It amplifies the energy. You get ideas from others and you can come up with a much more multi-dimensional work.
ARTWOLFE: Do you have any other comments? Kay: It was also really great to participate in the other installations – being a participant – not just the conceptualiser or creator. In fact I am so excited that I’m finally going to be exposed to interactive installations by the contemporary international community. I feel so blessed to have had this experience. The PDC organisers were wonderful, supportive and also inspirational!