Kristina Borg – “I’m Always Interested in Encouraging the People I Work with to Become Co-Creators, Not Just Participants”




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Nov 02, 2017
by Mirva Villa
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Kristina Borg – “I’m Always Interested in Encouraging the People I Work with to Become Co-Creators, Not Just Participants”

Visual artist discusses You Are What You Buy project and what inspired her career path Kristina Borg at the fourth Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators

People and community are at the very center of Kristina Borg’s work. Through her career as an independent visual artist and arts educator, she has supported people in creating their own art and has invited others to take part in her art projects.

“I’m interested in working with specific groups of people, different communities… People brought together either because of a particular place they come from, like their town or city, or particular working place,” Borg tells Salzburg Global, speaking at the fourth meeting of the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators.

“I’m always interested in encouraging the people I work with to become co-creators, not just participants,” Borg says. Her deep interest in bringing art to ordinary people’s reach and creating a dialogue is evident in one of her latest projects, You Are What You Buy,  an interactive performance set in a supermarket that she shared with other participants of this year's Forum during the open space showcase.

During the playful performance, performers would move around the store like robots, piling their carts full of items. Sometimes the group could be seen using the ordinary items in unexpected ways such as musical instruments or makeshift shelters.The confused and curious ordinary shoppers who watched these exploits as they unfolded became part of the audience.

The thought-provoking act aimed to highlight issues of sustainability and ethical consumption. The interdisciplinary project also contained an element of research on consumption habits with the main collaborators being social anthropologist Virginia Monteforte and academic Silvia Simoncelli. The year-long project culminated with a live performance.

“To a certain point it was an intrusion in this private, semi-public space, with an element of shock, maybe,” says Borg. “It was participatory at times, depending on how the clients reacted to it. Hopefully, it allowed us shoppers to reflect on what we buy and how we buy.”

Simple moments of connection

When asked what inspired her to take up her career path, Borg stops to think.

“This is a very interesting question because I’m in a transition phase. Three months ago I had a teaching post at a secondary school – so that’s one side of my career. But parallel to that, I always, as long as my memory takes me back, I remember being involved in the visual arts,” says Borg, adding that she had always been passionate about socio-community projects.

These parallel versions of Kristina co-existed, but for some reason, she never thought she would be able to merge the roles.

“But two or three years ago I started realizing that all this could merge. After all, it’s just me and part of my personality.”

Borg also felt the need to move away from “rigid” world of art schools for a while and focus on her own projects and freelancing.

Borg has recently combined her love for arts and people by coordinating a community project, entitled Naqsam il-MUZA (Sharing the muse), as part of the Valletta 2018 European Capital of Culture program. The project aims to bridge a connection between the national fine art collection of Malta and the local community, finding ways for art to become a tool in everyday life and conversations.

In the project, Borg meets locals and discusses art with them. Meeting new people and being introduced to their lives is one of the most rewarding aspects of her artistic practice, she says.

“I always start off by having one to one meetings with the participants… I find it so fascinating that I meet this person. I have no idea who he or she is; they have no idea who I am… There would have only been some communication via email or the phone… and I find it so beautiful how they open up.”

Borg fondly remembers a time when a participant felt the need to share something very personal with her to set the ground for their conversation. She often finds herself being invited to people’s homes and being offered food they have prepared. “I find these simple moments beautiful,” says Borg.

Citizen of the world

The chance to attend the fourth meeting of the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators came at the right time in Borg’s life.

“It’s an awesome experience on so many levels. It’s a learning experience and a self-reflective experience which I think I needed at this phase in my life,” Borg says. “I always had this dream in my life to be able to answer the question, ‘Where do you come from?’ and say, ‘I’m a citizen of the world.’ And for the first time in my life - in these few days here at the seminar - I’ve felt the possibility to say that.”

The Forum has also given Borg the willpower to realize her ideas. Before, she had a lot of ideas, but she never thought it was quite the right moment to put her them into action.

“What I’ll take away from here is, ‘Just do it.’ It’s either now or never,” Borg laughs.

“It makes you realize that what your worries are, and what you might perceive as a weakness are just common things with other participants, and just form part of the process,” Borg says.

“Without support, we can’t get anywhere. It’s important to exchange ideas, to exchange fears and experiences, and offer solutions.”

The Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators IV is part of a ten-year multi-year series. This year's program is supported by the Albanian-American Development Foundation, American Express, Arts Council Malta, Cambodian Living Arts, Canada Council for the Arts, Edward T. Cone Foundation, Fulbright Greece, Japan Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, Lloyd A. Fry Foundation, The McKnight Foundation, Adena and David Testa, and the U.S. Embassy Valetta, Malta. More information on the session can be found here. More information on the series can be found here. You can follow all the discussions on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram by using the hashtag #SGSyci.


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