Interview / Alice Peragine

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Tech &


Alice Peragine addresses these themes in her performances. For her, the Villa Romana Fellowship is both an honour and a career springboard

Alice Peragine

Her father is Italian, her mother German. The winner of the Villa Romana Prize was born in Munich in 1986 and grew up in Hamburg and Brooklyn. After studying

art and art history, she spent time abroad in San Francisco and Arnhem. Since 2011, performances have put her increasingly

in the spotlight.

How did you discover your artistic streak, Alice Peragine?

I went to the Rudolf Steiner School in Hamburg for thirteen years, where dance, movement as an artistic expression, crafts and music play an important role. This holistic approach shaped me. And my parents, both of them creatives themselves, have always supported and encouraged me to live “out of the box”.

What do you want to express with your art?

Pre-linguistic, intuitive, evocative things. At the beginning I usual- ly don’t know where the spark of an idea will take me. I often work with my body in space and with technology that supposedly pro- tects us. In the process, I would like to create a situation of togeth- erness, to establish a dialogue. In my performance “Soft Core – Protection Procedure” in 2016, for example, a uniformed group marched on the town hall market in a martial fashion, like soldiers or policemen. The spectators were urged to join in and were com- manded into increasingly narrow lanes using radio headphones. For the series “Hard Drive” I photographed accident cars, the limp airbags, the destruction – abstract collages that show the ambiva- lence between violence, vulnerability and security.

Does your androgynous appearance have anything to do with your art?

In a sense, it does. I see myself as a queer feminist artist. Earlier generations protested against power structures with movements such as flower power, student revolts or the AIDS activists group “Act Up”. Gender equality and gender diversity is an important is- sue in my generation.

What does the Villa Romana Prize mean to you?

It means so much, I am grateful for this honour. Due to the coron- avirus situation, I could only be on site from February until the lockdown. But the atmosphere in the villa, the city of Florence, the easiness of the Italians: I immediately had the feeling that “these are my people!” – my Italian side, a bit more open and dramatic, felt right at home. Even though I cannot be physically present in the villa for the time being, I am in contact with Ms Stepken and the other fellows. As an asthmatic, I simply can’t risk travelling at the moment. I am also grateful that the monthly allowance of the scholarship continues to flow. It made my life easier, particularly during the lockdown.

What do you hope for in the future?

Of course, I would like the Villa Romana Fellowship to give me more security, like many great artists before me. For two years now, I have been more or less able to make a living with my art, but there is a lot of unpaid work involved. I spend a lot of time apply- ing for a constant flow of funding and negotiating fees for art per- formances. My work usually doesn’t sell as something that you can put in your living room or hang on the wall. Except perhaps my photographic work.

Speaking of COVID-19 and its consequences: Will the world be a better place after the crisis?

As long as the prevailing power structures are not overcome, the corporations and consumption will always prevail. But surely many people will act more consciously and follow new paths.

Text: Barbara Friedrich

Photos: Benne Ochs

In her studio in Hamburg, Alice Peragine stores costumes and equipment. Like the bulletproof vest and dog leashes from the “Soft Core” performance (left) or a car mirror with copper wire (above), which will be part of an exhibition to be held in Munich in February 2021