02/05/24 • Residency : Heather Jones

Meet CAS Resident: Maike Statz

02/05/24 • Residency : Heather Jones

Meet CAS Resident: Maike Statz

We are thrilled to welcome Maike Statz to Stavanger as one of our 2024 CAS Residents in Art Writing. Statz' practice spans architecture, art, writing and curation, and aims to open discussions around the inequalities that exist in space and space-making, offering alternative tools and methods based in feminist and queer spatial methodologies. Below, Statz speaks to CAS Editor Heather Jones about her interest in architecture, her inspirations (feminist sci-fi!), and the importance of critically questioning how and for whom spaces are created.

Heather Jones: You received an MA in Interior Architecture from the Studio for Immediate Spaces at the Sandberg Instituut of the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in the Netherlands. How did you first come to be interested in architecture and what about this industry continues to hold your interest?

Maike Statz: What I have always and still find interesting about architecture is that it is so embedded in our lives. It can be taken for granted as a background for everyday life but it plays such an active role in shaping our identities, behaviours and relationships. I am in part the spaces that I grew up in. Interior architecture, more specifically, appeals to me because I feel it speaks about a more intimate kind of space, that which immediately surrounds you.

The master in Amsterdam you mention was really influential on my practice today, in how it combined artistic and spatial practice. What appealed to me about Studio for Immediate Spaces was that it gathered students with varying backgrounds, from performing arts, graphic design, scenography, architecture, that shared an interest in exploring concepts related to space. As the name suggests there was an implied immediacy and urgency. I applied with a project to investigate the relationship between gender, sexuality and space. My mind was blown when I started discovering feminist and queer architects and thinkers, such as Katarina Bonnevier, Paul Preciado and Sara Ahmed, talking about exactly these connections.

Architecture holds my interest today because of what is at stake; it has the potential to change lives and a responsibility to play an active role in the ongoing environmental crisis. You can operate on so many different scales and with so many materials – building new spaces with concrete, with words and with people.

Hosting Space opening talk with fem_arc HKS 2023. Photo: Runa Halleraker.

HJ: You describe yourself as an interior architect and an artist. How do these two (seemingly) separate fields merge in your practice? Do you see these as distinct methodologies?

MS: It’s an interesting question, I want to answer both yes and no. There is definitely an overlap. However, when I think about the processes of realising a project, as I’ve experienced them, there are distinctions. For example, when I first started developing artistic projects, I struggled with the absence of a brief that usually accompanies an architectural project. With a project brief you have a clearer starting and finishing point, there are typically specifications of a site, a problem, a list of requirements or desired outcomes. Suddenly I felt like I was working with more uncertainty and in turn possibilities, both making and answering my own brief. There are of course many practices that inspire me, such as the Swedish collective MYCKET, who work in a way that synthesises methodologies from art and architecture, something I am also interested in doing.

Now I purposefully present myself as both an interior architect and an artist, sometimes feeling like neither and both at the same time. My motivation with this is to play with expectations and push a little at the edges of the disciplines. Another description that really resonates with me is critical spatial practice. The term was coined by Jane Rendell in 2003 who uses it to describe practices located between art and architecture, that both critique the sites into which they intervene as well as the disciplinary procedures through which they operate. I’m interested in thinking about the context of my work, how it fits, shifts or pushes back on the space around it.

HJ: You’ve stated that in your work, you “challenge the inequalities that exist in space and spatial practices.” Can you tell us more about your research interests, and the different ways they manifest in your work?

MS: I was struck early on in my studies by the lack of diversity in architecture. As a young queer woman I didn’t see myself in who we were reading, referencing or studying. Now I realise how troubling it is for a discipline that is responsible for shaping the material reality of individuals and communities with a multiplicity of identities and experiences. Just as the figure of the male-genius has and needs to continue to be problematised in other fields, it is the same in architecture. Such a myth leads to uncaring and unsustainable practices shaped by power, privilege and individualism.

This motivation has led me to research interests such as feminist science fiction. I see feminist science fiction as a genre through which we can not only critique architecture but also speculate other forms. I’m particularly interested in books by authors such as Ursula K. Le Guin, Octavia E. Butler, R.B. Lemburg, Ellen van Neerven and N.K. Jemisin, that reimagine bodies, social/political structures, and gender and sexuality. In the process of worldbuilding the author acts as an interior architect, architect, and urban planner. This research shaped my master thesis Out of Place, Out of Time and the project Rainbow Palace, a text published by Karmaklubb* that I have also presented as performative readings and a video work. 

The projects Dissident Publics at ROM in Oslo, co-curated with Exutoire and NOGOODS (myself and Danja Burchard), and Hosting Space at Hordaland Kunstsenter (HKS) in Bergen, which I curated, both stem from my interest in queer and feminist approaches to spatial practice. They explore other ways of doing architecture. Hosting Space, for example, began with an invitation from HKS to redesign their reception, bookstore and café. The brief from the art centre was to design a space that reflected their mediation approach, which aims to position the visitor and the institution on an equal level. In response, and over many conversations with HKS, I developed Hosting Space, with the understanding that it is both the material (furniture, doors, surfaces etc.) and immaterial structures (noise levels, communication, programming etc.) of a building that affects a visitor’s access to or experience of it. Through discursive events as well as a renovation, one focus of the project was to explore in what way space does or does not welcome, host and care for particular bodyminds. I invited guests to facilitate various events, amongst them fem_arc and Jos Boys (The DisOrdinary Architecture Project), who are both engaged in challenging the norms of how we create space and for whom.

NOGOODS workshop with Dissident Publics project group Bergen 2022. Photo: Bui Quy Son.

HJ: You also co-founded NOGOODS, which as I understand is a roving curatorial platform for performance, art and architecture, and also encompasses a publishing practice. What was the impetus behind founding NOGOODS? Can you describe the goals of the space and a few of the recent projects?

MS: Not long after moving to Bergen in August 2020, Danja Burchard and I were put in touch by a mutual friend. We very quickly realised we shared a lot of research interests, especially a curiosity about the relationship between architecture and the body. NOGOODS emerged from this shared interest and our individual expertises, Danja was engaged in the performing arts scene in Bergen. The impetus was to create an artist-run project space that was transdisciplinary, working across art, architecture and performance, and encouraged critical discussion. This was something we felt was lacking in Bergen. We struck a deal with the landlord of an empty shop to use the space for free while they were finalising renovation plans, where we ended up being for one and a half years. As the name implies it wasn’t a space for ‘goods’ but one for failure and figuring things out together.

I designed and built the furniture and a kind of meta project we had was playing with the arrangement of the space (cutting and changing the furniture over time), thinking about how it affected the dynamic of the events we hosted. We experimented with various formats, residencies, reading groups, film screenings, workshops, and exhibitions. The magazine bias: bodies in architecture and structures was also developed as a way of sharing and deepening our curatorial focus. The first issue explored the topic of empathy and the second pleasure. We launched the second issue in February this year with a day of events involving the contributors to the issue. For me this project has been one of the most exciting, working with texts that feed from and then back into other forms, lectures, performances, installations, readings etc. I love books and other types of printed matter and found the experience of working with the graphic designers Vera Gomes and Thanee Rene Andino really inspiring.

Danja and Francesca Scapinello (who joined NOGOODS in 2023) both moved from Bergen which means NOGOODS is now taking a different shape, and I am stepping out of it to focus on other projects. It was absolutely a learning by doing project which was intense but equally rewarding. In retrospect NOGOODS was also a way for me to get to know and make a space for myself in a new city, a process that can be exciting but also challenging and sometimes lonely.

HJ: You’re coming to Stavanger as a 2024 CAS Resident, and to give a presentation co-organized by NEB-STAR. What are your plans for your time in Stavanger? What do you hope to gain, and what do you hope participants take away from your presentation?

MS: I’ve never visited Stavanger so I am excited to explore the city, maybe go to a beach (!) and get to know people in the local  art and architecture scene. I’m also curious to visit the Norwegian Petroleum Museum. As the first article I wrote for CAS took NEB-STAR as a starting point, I am also planning on visiting their two sites and chatting with those involved in the project. My text was very much written from a distance, so I plan to develop a second text that takes the experience of being in Stavanger as a starting point. 

I will also be hosting a workshop during Nordic Edge Expo during which I aim to address the question of who we are talking about when we talk about ‘the public’ in design and city planning processes. A key interest in organising the workshop for me was creating a space of exchange between those attending the Nordic Edge Expo and local artists or designers. One of the goals of NEB-STAR is to learn from artistic methodologies so I am curious to hear if and how this has happened. I hope participants are prompted to examine their own position in and experience of space, as well as learn from feminist spatial practices that focus on empowering rather than only including those positioned as ‘other’.

HJ: Do you have any other current research or upcoming projects that you can share with us?

MS: Yes! Right before I travel to Stavanger there will be the first edition of INTRANSIT architecture film days happening in Bergen. This is a program I initiated and curated together with film and media researcher Maud Ceuterick and architect Aleksandra Ivashkevich in partnership with Bergen arkitektforening and Cinemateket Bergen. We wanted to share films that, rather than presenting architectural projects as static finished objects, show them as always changing, depending on the people, stories and histories that constitute them.

I am also working on a few ongoing projects, one which is called Table, Birch Ply. This project was inspired by Sara Ahmed’s writings on tables in Queer Phenomenology, and reflects on the practical and symbolic significance of tables. What interests me about tables, specifically dining and kitchen tables, is how they have been important sites for feminism and feminist writing practices, as a meeting or working place. Tables suggest equality and exchange, but your place or position at a table can speak to broader power structures. I was in Taiwan at the beginning of last year and have held writing workshops both in Taipei and Bergen that teach participants feminist writing methods, such as site-writing, to reflect on tables from their past and imagine future forms of tables. I plan on putting this research together into a publication and designing my own reimagined table. 

Maike Statz is an interior architect and artist with a practice spanning curation, writing, installation and design. Through their work they reflect on the relationship between bodies and space — understanding architecture as shaping our emotions, behaviours, and identities and vice versa. Inspired by feminist and queer spatial practices, Statz aims to open discussions around the inequalities that exist in space and space-making, offering alternate tools and methods. Situating theirselves and being site-sensitive is important to each project Statz undertakes. They see their practice not as an individual one, but building on collaborations and references.

Between 2021-2024, Maike Statz co-founded and ran the moving platform NOGOODS and the magazine bias with Danja Burchard and Francesca Scapinello. Recent curatorial and design projects include Hosting Space (June–August 2023) at Hordaland Kunstsenter in Bergen and Dissident Publics (May–June 2023) with NOGOODS and Exutoire at ROM in Oslo. Statz is currently based in Bergen and enjoys swimming, feminist science fiction and making furniture.

Maike Statz CAS Residency is made possible with generous support from and in collaboration with NEB-STAR.