Mbizo CHIRASHA How long have you been working with the international artist and writers?
Antje Stehn Three years ago I met Ana Pedroso, a Cuban poet who lives in Milan. She worked in the association Poetry is my passion which organizes events with the international artist community in Milan. Straight away we found out, that we were a perfect mixture of working-mentality, she has the Latin spontaneity and I have the German organization. In these three years we have organized more than 50 events in different places in Milan. We brought poetry to strange places like Jazz clubs, fashion fairs, in the courtyards, on the street. The aim is to bring poetry to people who normally don’t listen to poetry. We now are 5 In our team, Betty Gilmore , an afro -american blues poet singer, Rufin Doh a poet, and famous actor from Ivory Coast, Meisam Seraj from Iran, Ana Pedroso from Cuba and me the only European.
Mbizo CHIRASHA You have done a lot of work in arts curatorial, collaborative arts projects and translations, what are your major artistic highlights since your entry into the creative and literary arts fraternity?
Antje Stehn The first big artistic collaboration I did was with the University in Milan,2016, with the compartment of Philosophy which sponsored an interesting collaboration with the students who made a philosophical research about my art work . This was presented In a big event where I showed an art piece called : “5000 dandelions waiting for future” ,it was a huge ball made of these flowers that you call “blow balls” because you blow and the seeds go all over. This was an extremely fragil work and I was very scared that something would go wrong. But you won’t believe it , this blowballs are still entire.
Mbizo CHIRASHA What are your current and forthcoming projects?
Antje Stehn At the moment we are exhibiting the project Rucksack A GLOBAL Poetry Patchwork, in the first and only Museum of Poetry in the world which is placed in an old baroque deconsecrated church in Piacenza in Italy. It’s a project that I curate together with the famous Indian poet Mamta Sagar. We invited poets from all over the world to send us teabags , their poems, and an audio where they are reading their poems in their mother tongue . With the teabags I constructed a big Backpack and the poems are exhibited all around it and you can hear the voices of the poets in all different languages echoing in this church on a long audio loop. 250 poets from more than 50 different countries participated. It’s so wonderful to see a teabag from Ghana next to a teabag form Iceland or Mexico. This art piece is emphasizing the value of closeness, so significant in this historical moment marked by distance and confinement, and it shows how important human networking is.Next year there will be a second edition of the Rucksack. We will send out another call to integrate new poets .
Mbizo CHIRASHA What does poetry mean to you, what are your best poets and why?
Antje Stehn. Living with poetry is a kind of life- attitude. It means to consider the marginal things that nobody considers. As an artist, one has the task of analyzing the habitus of one’s own time , which are the collective forms of thinking of the contemporaneity and trying to understand what’s going on. There is term which actually comes from the Buddhist tradition ,which is “mindfulness”, it means, receptive attention to current processes and experiences to do this you need curiosity, openness, acceptance .The wide angled view , but then of course you have to focus on certain things , restrict the attention without leaving the abundance of perception .
I don’t have any best poet, my life is a continuous discovery, that includes poets of all kind, everybody can teach you something. For example I feel related to dadaism, but my own poetry is not Dada, it’s important to be open.
Mbizo CHIRASHA. What’s your message to rising and established creatives?
Antje Stehn It’s important to develop your art, become a good artist, be highly creative but it is also very important to do networking, to use art as a means of communication to go beyond the traditional places which are consecrated for art. We have to change this world before it’s too late The artists have an important role in this.