CHECKING IN WITH TANIA FRANCO KLEIN

ART IN THE TIME OF COVID-19
April 8, 2020

Tell us about the latest piece you made.
I still haven't titled it  but I was thinking of the relativity of time  and how slow and confusing it feels during these strange times. I thought of slow movement and repetition, which in a normal routine could represent a small part of a minute but in our everyday life today in the middle of a pandemic could actually be a whole day, or just the idea of being out there on the same corner every day, waiting.

 

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Were you thinking about anything in particular when you made this piece?
I don't like discriminating any lighting source, and I love working both with natural light and artificial sources. But to be honest, for some strange reason,  counting on natural light these days has become some sort of joy. I am looking forward to the whole day for this very short moment in time where I can make the magic happen. Even if at the end I don't make any work and I just observe the light passing by, it just takes away how flattened the days can feel under lockdown. For this piece I did exactly that: there was a little corner where I have been hunting the light before the golden hour passes by for the past days before doing it and decided to do a small intimate setting for when the sun decided to come my way.  

 

Is making work right now keeping you sane in these days of anxiety?
Definitely! I would say creativity is what keeps me sane in general, but right now it feels a little bit like a survival tool. That being said, I am also very flexible with myself and especially now I am giving myself the pleasure of just experimenting not necessarily for any outcome, just for the sake of it. I think it is nice to keep our heads busy but I also think we should not put crazy pressure on ourselves to make this time “the most productive” of our lives when we are passing through a very hard collective experience. This is no time to punish ourselves if we are not making “the best of it”. We are all doing what we can.

 

 Is your process of working any different these days than it was before this crisis?
I am a loner. I almost always work alone for my personal projects, so I guess I was somehow prepared for this. It doesn't change my process as a whole, but I don't have access to a lot of sources like locations, or small places where I like finding props, fabrics, carpets. The good news is a have 20 yards of velvet and 30 wigs with me and a heater that [Rose] gave me as a prop, so not everything is lost. 

Knowing that you are an artist who can work anywhere, is being confined affecting the way you're thinking about your work?
I am questioning myself very often as to why I have been working as if I have been in quarantine for the past 5 years. Just kidding. Well, to be honest, it is interesting because I have been trying to expand my Proceed To The Route series to make a publication with it in the near future, and this series involves a lot of urban settings...working outdoors. It is very out of my comfort zone in general, but with the quarantine, I have been having to put that aside and go back to my normal “indoor me” which is scarily pleasing.

 

 Where did you make this image? 
In a small corner of a little guesthouse which I am now using as a studio.

 
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Many of us right now are looking for ways to not only 'keep calm and carry on,' but also for inspiration - be it in works of art or literature, or music + film.  How are you coping?
I have been going back a lot to the text of the Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein and thinking about how important is to be aware of this work in a global crisis. I am also reading an extraordinary Mexican writer called Valeria Luiselli and her new book Lost Children Archive, everything about her is a must. 


Silly question: I find myself seeking solace in 'stuffing my face' with anything salty or sugary, knowing you are a vegan, what are you eating these days?
I am crazy for sweets and I honestly can't blame the quarantine for that. I think a lot of people are buying vegan things lately because I haven't been able to find any of my normal meals at the supermarket. I guess I will have to live off chocolate, which is fine. 

 

Are you finding 'funny' or poignant images or words online that resonate with you?  Can you share with us some links?
Yes. If sense of humor is lost, everything is lost. 
This is me: 

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Knowing that your family resides in Mexico City, is there anything you'd like to share with us as per what's going on in Mexico?
Yes, incredibly a lot of fake news. It's honestly shocking how badly the media is doing their job in Mexico. I feel disappointed for the most part. Mexico was one of the first countries to react to the pandemic. We have Dr. López-Gatell, one of the most incredible epidemiologists, handling the crisis. The government appointed the health sector to be in charge of the pandemic and has been giving every day a conference for the last 3 months at 7 pm explaining the phases, what and why the measurements are being taken (most people only started watching it in the last 2 weeks). We can also see every day another conference of the president for one hour for other topics, the best part of it is everything is being filmed and you can see how the media distorting everything that is said and done and taking things out of context. Unfortunately, most people don't watch both conferences every day and only read the sensationalist headlines. I think we are in good hands. For the first time we have a president who is not corrupt but, unfortunately, the country right now will face a lot of reality of so many years of corruption and all the unfinished hospitals and money for the health sector that was stolen during past governments making rich very few people. That will have huge consequences, for the majority of the population which is poor. 

 

Assuming that we will survive this most horrific virus, what are you looking forward to in the near future?
I can't wait to hug people and to see my family. I might even start taking photos in the streets ha.

 

Portrait of Tania Franco Klein by  Kovi Konowiecki

Portrait of Tania Franco Klein by Kovi Konowiecki

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Sophi Winnikoff

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