/ 24 September 2019

Week of the Festival: Krems, Austria

Lightening Shabby Places With Illusion

On Ada Kobusiewicz’s video and light installations

Ada Kobusiewicz’s video and light installations move between exploration, science, experimental and authentic and tend to focus on run down surroundings. From April to August 2019 her exhibition “illusion”, situated in the caves of Schlossberg, impressed tourists and inhabitants evenhandedly.


We meet on a Wednesday afternoon. For a few days now summer has been crouching over the city, which, nestled among the hills, stores the heat and radiates it to the locals and tourists. It is three o’clock, the ideal hour for being swallowed by the cool mouth of the Schlossberg (translated “castle hill”) that is located in the very centre of Graz.

Ada Kobusiewicz arrives by bike. In two hours she will have to pick up her four year old daughter from kindergarten, before that she wants to lead me through the exhibition personally. Since five years the multimedia and light artist has been living in the capital of Styria. Changing cities is something that is part of Ada Kobusiewicz’s life. After completing her studies in art, research and production at the Academy of Arts in Granada, she moved to Novi Sad, where she earned her M.A. in Light Design.

Before we enter the tunnel we stop in front of a dustbin. “Do you see that cube behindit?”,Kobusiewicz asks.I step forward, leaning over the bin, smelling rotting waste and cigarette ashes.The cube turns out to be an audio installation from the eighties. “It still works”,the light artist says. “It is this thoughtfulness I cannot understand. Why do they have to put that bin exactly in front of this wonderful installation?”

It has always been the less beautiful that caught Ada Kobusiewicz’s attention. “I am keen on places that are a little bit fucked up”, she admits and smiles. 

I remember her film project called “Danube treasures”. Dazzling, dancing plastic in silent film sequences. If there is anybody who is able to transfer shabbiness into poetry, it is Ada Kobusiewicz. 

We enter the tunnel. To our right a circle in blue, purple and orange is glowing in the darkness. While looking at the installation that is accompanied by the spherical sounds of composer Slobodan Kajkut, I get the impression of a visible pulse. 

“Some people are not able to see the blue colour”the light artist tells me.“They see a white circle instead. Colour is nothing but an illusion. It only happens in our brain.”

We continue walking. On both sides of the path the security lights are changing from violet to blue. Kobusiewicz programmed the L.E.D. lights in the colours of the spectrum. Even security can look beautiful if somebody cares.

Some of the installations are located behind glass plates. Due to the condensing water the glass sometimes gets so steamed that visitors have to stand at the gap between the plates in order to be able to see the installation. “But that can be exciting, too”, Kobusiewicz smiles. “Sometimes I come here to watch the visitors react.”

Today we are lucky, the glass offers clear sight. A man approaches us. He keeps watching the floating lines for some minutes, then he grabs his smartphone and takes a photo.

When people enter the tunnel, they do not expect anything. They take the tunnel as a shortcut and are surprised by the installations.

“This is why I prefer open spaces”, Kobusiewicz whispers. “Here it does not matter if one is interested in art or not. People do not have to pay an entrance fee, it is open to everybody.”

A school class passes by, peeping curiously at both sides of the cave. The teacher stops in front of one of the installations. In the meantime the tunnel walls are glowing shiny red, and also the installation in front of us (which I call light room) is changing its colour to pink. A colour that does not exist in the spectrum – the reason why Kobusiewicz wanted to have a specialfocus on it, as I am told. 

Two women are passing. They throw quick glances at the installations, merely slowing down a bit. Maybe they have a tight time table. Only some passers take the time to catch the poetry behind Ada’s installations. When asked if she wished that people would look more closely, the light artist shakes her head. “Everyonecan explore the tunnel in his or her own way. Many pass here several times, even tourists. Sometimes, when I’m here, I hear exclamations like: Look, this one was blue last time and now it’s pink!

We arrive at the end of the exhibition. Bright sunlight is flooding the tunnel. The word illusion, written in bright light,seems like a farewell. Here we are to leave the world of imagination and step out into reality.




A few hours later. 

Ada Kobusiewicz’s balcony reveals a great view of the Schlossberg. I am invited to drink a glass of wine at the artist’s place. Behind the balustrade the night is crawlingover the exhausted city. A gentle breeze tickles my cheeks while Kobusiewicz tells me more about the several phases of her project. She would have liked to engage more performers in her exhibition. At least there will be one at the finissage. Klaus Messner will come, sheannounces.

Movement, shade and light are the main ingredients that can be found in every one of Ada Kobusiewicz’s videos and installations. Her preferred setting: desolate surroundings and impermanent spaces. The dance between conscious and unconscious.

Together we look at the video of her last exhibition in the Schlossbergstollen. The wine and the dancing reflections on the screen make me feel easy, happy, comfortable,and astonished. Ada Kobusiewicz laughs. “My art and wine are good partners. I often drink wine when I am working.”

Asked if the regional wine has an impact on her art (after all, she has been living in Spain for some years), she shakes her head. “I like white wine from Burgenland, but when it comes to inspiration, I prefer red wine from Chile.”


By Margarita Kinstner, Austrian writer.

Proof readers: Kelley Ann Shelswell, Lisa Schantl